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Integrated condition monitoring

28 November 2019

Leading manufacturers of drive systems, NORD has developed a new condition monitoring solution that is fully integrated into the frequency inverter. The solution provides a boost for those looking to implement (or improve) predictive maintenance systems, helping to reduce downtime and increase efficiency across the entire plant.

Condition monitoring can deliver extensive and relevant information for predictive maintenance strategies. Through the adoption of the latest condition monitoring innovations, drive and status data can be recorded periodically or continuously in order to optimise the efficiency and operational safety of machines and plant equipment. This functionality handshakes perfectly with the IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) and the ethos of Industry 4.0 (the fourth industrial revolution). After all, the principles of Industry 4.0 are purposely devised to help companies increase operational efficiency, reduce costs and accelerate processes.

With these thoughts in mind, condition monitoring has many advantages to offer, not least the detection and avoidance of impermissible operating states at an early stage, as well as the replacement of conventional periodic maintenance with strategies based on current status. Such an approach also means that machine and plant downtime can be planned and actioned when convenient. Further benefits include a reduction in service and material costs, longer machine and component service life, greater system availability, and plannable, cost-optimised repair.

The latest condition monitoring innovation from NORD is based on the use of an intelligent, modular, flexible electronic drive system. Here, the pre-processing of drive data in the integrated PLC can offer significant advantages for those looking to improve the efficiency of their maintenance operations. As a point of note, the NORD system is IIoT/Industry 4.0 ready, with data offered via all common communications interfaces. Furthermore, threshold values or general status information can be communicated externally (via normal Industrial Ethernet dialects).

Virtual sensors

To provide an example of the system´s capabilities, this drive-based approach leverages sensorless determination of the optimal oil change time based on virtual oil temperature. An actual temperature sensor is not needed because virtual sensors calculate the current oil temperature continuously by way of drive-specific parameters. This thinking is based on the fact that oil temperature is a key factor for oil-ageing in gear units. 

Some hardware sensors are deployed as part of the solution, including NORD-qualified vibration sensors, and a PT1000-based temperature sensor for the motor. Furthermore, customer-specific sensors (analogue or digital) can be connected as required. Sensors and sensor data play a central role in developing a strong foundation for condition monitoring and predictive maintenance strategies.

The integrated PLC is clearly a key component, and is available for all NORD frequency inverters and motor starters. Alongside the pre-processing of drive-specific parameters and drive-related sensors, and the evaluation of drive conditions, the PLC serves many important functions, including the provision of access to parameters, access to Industrial Ethernet or field bus data, and the implementation of application-specific tasks.

Deploying the right PLC software architecture is also important. Here, NORDCON software offers user-friendly parameterisation and programming of several drives, as well as multi-axis access via Ethernet tunnelling. The PLC editor has been created in accordance with IEC 61131-3 and supports Structured Text (ST).

Also available for busy engineers on the move is the NORDCON APP, which provides dashboard-based visualisation of drive monitoring activities and fault diagnosis. In addition, users can make use of parameterisation with a convenient ´Help´ function. 

Ultimately, the adoption and exploitation of predictive maintenance just became far easier than ever before. Taking a drive-based approach, as facilitated by the new condition monitoring solution from NORD, helps manufacturing and process plants take the next step to higher efficiency and less downtime.