The future of predictive maintenance arrives in time for Christmas-New Year machinery service season

New technologies open a window into future reliability of machinery, motors and systems
The last thing companies in competitive markets need are unscheduled unexpected shutdowns. The same applies to suppliers of essential services, such as energy and water utilities. New technologies open a window into future reliability of machinery, motors and systems

What sounded like science fiction just a short time ago is now a reality in the new predictive maintenance systems becoming available from members of the global Schaeffler Group such as Schaeffler Australia.

The company's automated rolling bearing diagnostics and the calculation of the remaining useful life of bearings are important components of Industry 4.0, which refers to a fourth industrial revolution (following water/steam power, mass production and automation through IT and robotics). Industry 4.0 introduces the concept of 'cyber-physical systems' to differentiate this new evolutionary phase from the electronic automation that has gone before.

"All machinery - all motors, drives, shafts, conveyors, wheels - depend critically on bearings, whether you're in an outback mine, city factory or an urban water or energy plant supplying the population," says Mr Mark Ciechanowicz, Industrial Services Manager, Schaeffler Australia.

Plant maintenance and operational staff were given an insight to the future at this year's Hannover Messe 2016, the world's biggest industrial trade fair, where Schaeffler presented to the 250,000 visitors its new predictive maintenance solutions that provide machine operators with information about the future condition of their machines.

Schaeffler technologies flowing on into Australia in time for the Christmas New Year maintenance season included the FAG SmartCheck diagnostic system, which transfers data to the cloud. "The cloud provides greater processing power and a wider range of analysis options than existing purely local calculation systems", says Mr Ciechanowicz.

"This type of predictive maintenance allows not only the capacity utilisation of factories, processing plants and utilities to be optimised, but also makes it possible to plan maintenance intervals, says Mr Ciechanowicz, who is responsible for advanced technologies such as the early warning system FAG SmartQB.

Haulotte Australia General Manager Mr Keith Clarke, left, with United Equipment CEO Mr David Maxwell
FAG SmartCheck from Schaeffler. With around 84,000 employees, Schaeffler is a global bearing technology authority with approximately 170 locations in 50 countries including Australasia, which has access to a worldwide network research and development facilities that complement extensive local capabilities.

This user-friendly technology comprises a FAG SmartQB sensor unit (a variant of the existing FAG SmartCheck), a cubic housing with a touch panel, and a cable for power and data transmission. The system was specially developed for detecting irregularities in electric motors, pumps, fans, and their rolling bearings, and is supplied with a ready-to-use configuration suitable for Australasian conditions.

"An important prerequisite for predictive maintenance is automated rolling bearing diagnostics, a function that is used in motor gearbox units, for example. These units are used not only in machine tools, but also in belt conveyors, presses, water and energy infrastructure, paper and cement plants and resources, processing and manufacturing and bulk handling processes, as well as steel mill rollers.

"Because such machine drives may be operated virtually without interruption, they require intensive maintenance in order to prevent production downtimes. This is why it is so important for operators to know the condition of the drive components at all times, and why the bearings are becoming particularly important as a central machine element."

The new generation of the FAG SmartCheck diagnostic system represents a further step forward for Schaeffler which, with 85,000 employees worldwide, is a global leader in bearing manufacture and maintenance. In addition to identifying the threat of bearing damage, wear, and irregularities such as imbalance and misalignments based on vibration pattern changes, FAG SmartCheck's cloud connection can be used to create an automated diagnosis in the cloud. This uses raw data supplied by the FAG SmartCheck and from additional data, e.g. from the machine control system.

From condition monitoring to predictive maintenance

Data stored in the cloud from condition monitoring systems such as FAG SmartCheck also allows the information to be used for other calculations, such as drive train and rolling bearing simulations relating to their static and dynamic strength.

"Using the real load spectra gathered during operation, Schaeffler can continuously calculate the bearings' remaining useful life on the customer's behalf at freely definable time intervals," says Mr Ciechanowicz. Schaeffler's BEARINX calculation tool retrieves the data from the cloud. The customer can then view the remaining useful life of every bearing in the machine using an internet-capable end device.

Schaeffler's solution is based on three central elements:

  • A suitable system of sensors gathers reliable load data for the machine and its bearings.
  • Simulation models calculate the remaining useful life based on the dimensions of the machine and the actual loads.
  • A software platform through which the customer can access the calculations and retrieve information about his or her machine individually.

Schaeffler's BEARINX calculation tool retrieves the data from the cloud and calculates the nominal rating life of the individual bearings. The calculation is based on loads such as speeds, torques, temperatures, and vibrations. To back the system, Schaeffler Australia offers a full range of maintenance tools and condition monitoring equipment and services from a single source. Included in the range are hand-held data collectors for patrol monitoring, to modular online fixed vibration monitoring systems and easy-to-use acoustic emission monitoring devices. Services include vibration analysis, thermographic imaging, oil analysis and complete after-sales service by fully qualified engineers and for any application in any industry.

Optimum Maintenance Interval Planning

While condition monitoring provides information about a machine's current condition, predictive maintenance also looks into the future and allows the optimum time for maintenance to be predicted.

Dr. Hans-Willi Ke├čler, Vice President of Service Products at Schaeffler, says this allows factories' production planning to be optimised. "For example, production can be increased if this is required to meet increased order and sufficient machine capacity is available. Alternatively, production can be reduced when there are fewer orders pending in order to match a specific maintenance interval."

In this way, production machine maintenance can be carried out based on the load conditions and according to requirements instead of specific time intervals and acute malfunctions, he says. This provides numerous benefits, including increased productivity through correlation between the level of capacity utilisation in production and the condition of the machine elements. What is more, replacement parts can be ordered on a just-in-time basis, which reduces warehousing costs. Last but not least, the overall operating costs can be lowered through optimum utilisation of maintenance intervals. Even in the event of incipient bearing damage, predictive maintenance can still help: If the operator knows how long a bearing will continue to function, he or she can make a valid decision as to whether or not production should be continued. By carrying out maintenance work in accordance with the actual operating conditions, Schaeffler is ushering in a paradigm shift in mechanical engineering. In a second step, the measured load spectra can be used to completely redesign and reconfigure both individual components and entire machines to match the relevant load conditions.

About Schaeffler

Schaeffler is your powerful partner for sustainable solutions concerning maintenance and quality control - from the selection of the optimal tools to machine monitoring to the maintenance services such as mounting or reconditioning of rolling bearings. In co-operation with the system manufacturer or operator we develop individually tailored concepts independent of manufacturers.

With our products and services our clients are able to reliably avoid or immediately detect and restore machine breakdown / trouble. This increases service life and performance of production lines and significantly reduces total costs. In addition to a permanent on-site support of our clients by means of servicing contracts, we also offer our clients emergency services on call whenever they are needed.

Our high quality products and services along with the profound Know-How of our employees guarantee, that we can offer the ideal solution for your maintenance and monitoring jobs. With our global network of service engineers, we can serve our clients around the world quickly and efficiently. The service sector supplements the portfolio of the Schaeffler Industrial Aftermarket with services and products concerning the maintenance:

Products
  • Tools for mounting and dismounting rolling bearings
  • 100% tested rolling bearing greases Arcanol
  • Lubricant solutions for special rolling bearing applications
  • Hardware and software for monitoring the condition of bearings
  • Vibration measurement
  • Tools for aligning and balancing
Services
  • Maintenance and repair of rolling bearings
  • On-site and remote machine diagnosis
  • Vibration measurement
  • Thermography
  • Balancing service
  • Alignment service
  • Video endoscopy
  • Consulting, TCO
  • Training courses on rolling bearing technology, mounting/dismounting, vibration measurement technology
SCHAEFFLER - A PARTNER OF CHOICE

The Schaeffler Group is a leading global integrated automotive and industrial supplier. The company stands for the highest quality, outstanding technology, and strong innovative ability. The Schaeffler Group makes a key contribution to "Mobility for tomorrow" with high-precision components and systems in engine, transmission, and chassis applications as well as rolling and plain bearing solutions for a large number of industrial applications. The technology company generated sales of approximately EUR 13.2 billion in 2015. With around 85,000 employees, Schaeffler is one of the world's largest family companies and, with approximately 170 locations in over 50 countries, has a worldwide network of manufacturing locations, research and development facilities, and sales companies.

Schaeffler technology is backed by comprehensive service in Australia and New Zealand, with research and bearing application and maintenance training from Schaeffler operations established for more than 35 years Down Under. Schaeffler offers a wide range of services in Australasia and globally including support, diagnostics, and maintenance and assembly for rolling bearings and systems.

Haulotte Australia General Manager Mr Keith Clarke, left, with United Equipment CEO Mr David Maxwell
FAG SmartQB is a ready-to-use condition monitoring solution for electric motors, pumps, and fans that is very easy to install and use. Five causes of faults can be identified and displayed using the condition monitoring system: bearing damage, imbalance, friction/cavitation (for centrifugal pumps), temperature increases, and all general changes in vibration patterns that cannot be clearly attributed to one of the aforementioned causes that require additional analysis. Due to this automatic fault assessment performed by FAG SmartQB, the system can be operated by maintenance personnel without any knowledge of vibration technology. The fault assessment enables users to immediately initiate maintenance work and order replacement parts where required. In case of an alarm due to a change in vibration signals that cannot be attributed, FAG SmartQB makes a recommendation to maintenance personnel via the display to send the measurement data to Schaeffler's technical support, for instance, for a more in-depth analysis.