Schaeffler recently launched the condition monitoring system here in the U.S. and in Canada during the summer of 2021. By all accounts, the early adopters of this technology have been pleased with the results.
“There are other competitive solutions on the market, so customers want assurances that the system they decide to spend their capital on actually provides value. We have numerous technical and financial case studies that will bolster our efforts to introduce OPTIME in the U.S. and throughout the world. Moreover, many of the companies we have worked with overseas are global organizations that have manufacturing facilities here in the Americas,” said Frank Mignano, Schaeffler Americas manager for condition monitoring and Industry 4.0 service solutions.
Data Analysis Demystified
OPTIME is an easily scalable condition monitoring system that consists of wireless, battery-powered vibration sensors, a cellular gateway and an app to visualize the resulting data. This information, which is captured by the sensors, is analyzed using proprietary algorithms that draw on Schaeffler’s technical expertise, its extensive library of physical models developed and refined over many decades, and the experience in condition monitoring that Schaeffler has built up in the course of its bearing servicing operations.
OPTIME is designed to provide advance warning of potential damage to machines such as electric motors, fans and pumps. It also offers early notification of imbalance, misalignment and loose-fitting components. The OPTIME mobile app displays trends in graph format and visualizes the severity of incidents using traffic light colors, alarm states and other information. Assets can be grouped according to the user’s requirements, and their condition can be presented in a range of user group-specific views. With OPTIME, in-house maintenance personnel and external service contractors receive specific recommendations regarding the steps required to remedy any issues, enabling them to easily plan their maintenance activities, manpower requirements and spare parts procurement in a timely and cost-effective manner.
A Maintenance Department Makeover
The post-pandemic industrial workforce will go through plenty of wholesale changes in the coming years, particularly in maintenance and operations departments. These changes cannot be avoided, but they can be mitigated with the proper tools, e.g., PCD tools for manufacturing.
“I see manpower (or lack thereof) as a critical issue moving forward,” Mignano said. “There is tremendous knowledge retiring every year and a lack of interested/trained people who are willing and able to step in. In many cases, we can offset this skills gap by using Industry 4.0 technology.”
Mignano believes systems like OPTIME allow end users to implement Industry 4.0 technology to handle the rather mundane and sometimes dangerous task of manually collecting vibration data. This will, in turn, free up manpower for more valuable tasks such as eradicating the “bad actor” lists that exist in many plants.
“Bearings rarely die of old age and the goal of many leading companies is to get eight-plus years of operation out of their rotating assets. Companies like Schaeffler are well positioned to help end users improve rotating equipment reliability. In addition, IIoT systems like OPTIME allow for full digital integration in the planning and scheduling of repairs, thereby ensuring parts and people are on hand to cost effectively perform the required maintenance,” Mignano added.
Upgrading Security Measures
While Industry 4.0 solutions continue to make advancements in manufacturing, they also raise connectivity and cybersecurity concerns.
At Schaeffler, customers and their needs will continue to be the focus of all business activities, according to Karthikk Munirathinam, director – digitalization, process and information for Schaeffler in the Americas.
“Information security and cybersecurity are important to ensure the highest possible level of industry standards, and we employ the strictest security measures to protect our customers and their internal data. All the sensor and data communications are fully encrypted to ensure data integrity as well as to protect from any unauthorized access. OPTIME adheres to multiple industry standards and Schaeffler is committed to monitoring all ongoing compliance needs,” Munirathinam said.
“OPTIME delivers high reliability on a massive scale through our Wirepass advanced BLE mesh network. This intelligent mesh network provides sensor-to-sensor communication, self-healing routing, automatic retransformation of data and security in the event of any connectivity disruptions,” Munirathinam added.
Multiple layers of security built into the architecture are designed to keep customer data safe and secure. These control measures include customer-specific protection from the sensor to the gateway devices and regulated access to customer data within Schaeffler.
The Next Era of Condition Monitoring
Mignano recently discussed how OPTIME is truly a “plug & play” system with capabilities including: automatic communication between sensors and the gateway as well as the gateway to the cloud; automatic data storage; machine adaptive alarm levels that are automatically set based on a learning mode algorithm; advanced machine learning diagnostics are executed on the data and actionable information is provided, such as a bearing defect, lubrication issues, or balance/alignment; the data is available on both a desktop PC as well as the “Schaeffler OPTIME” smartphone app.
Mignano will be sharing more with an informative webinar that will explain how Industry 4.0/IIoT technologies can help improve reliability metrics, profitability and productivity via current packaging, battery and sensor technology, including resources such as OPTIME.
Take Off Into the New Era of Industry 4.0-Based Condition Monitoring takes place Thursday, August 26, 2021 from 11:00 – 12:00 pm EDT.