Smart Sensors

ABB among companies to roll out new line of solutions

Like it or not, maintenance is maturing. There are just as many solutions being unveiled now that use cloud technology and remote capability as there is everything else.

In what some are calling a “new era”, spearheaded by remote condition monitoring for low voltage motors, seeing touchscreens and servers near or on the floor is becoming increasingly common. Those who still trust the old ways, if begrudgingly, can still save money on expenses and service their customers loyally. The many others who advocate new technology like smart sensors and remote capability will contend that it’s a no-brainer: because these devices (in addition to picking up data on vibration, temperature, and other parameters, which is their main job) can ultimately reduce motor downtime by as much as 70%, extend overall lifetime by as much as 30%, and lower energy use by up to 10%.

ABB's remote conditioning monitoring systems are among those being touted as the future of motor and generator control.

ABB’s remote condition monitoring systems are among those being touted as the future of motor and generator control.

Companies such as ABB, Siemens, and Schenck have developed compact sensors, attachable to the frame and wireless, for low voltage induction motors. These units gather on-board algorithms, compiling statistics and records of the motor’s usage that is subsequently relayed from the smart sensor to show workers information about the motor’s health. Workers can view this information any time, whether on the floor or off, via a smartphone and over the internet, as it is kept at a secure server. This solution can make huge numbers of motors into smart devices, enabling them to benefit from intelligent services.

ABB’s version of the solution will be initially launched in the North American market, with subsequent roll-outs to other markets. Following the launch, later versions will be released to “gradually increase the breadth and depth of the functionality,” the company states.

Some understandable doubts tend to sprout from new tech like this. It’s hard to trust something that is all in a computer, that you can’t see, touch, and assess yourself. It’s also a hard fact that the more digitized and connected our country’s network has become, it’s vulnerability to cyber attacks is now higher. Senators, like Angus King from Maine, have read this writing on the wall and proposed mediums that could enlist more traditional solutions as defensive backup. Senator King and three other members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence have proposed these ideas to Congress as recently as June.

Some solutions may be more preferable for a smaller shop. Certain businesses might feel more comfortable with everything integrated, and no variables. Picking a side is not mandatory. But understanding that these technologies have gone from the ’emergence’ phase to mainstream solutions is.

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