Sensors & Transducers


Predictive maintenance can drive costs down

November 2023 Sensors & Transducers

Omron assists companies in tackling these challenges by migrating from preventive maintenance to more effective predictive maintenance strategies. Unlike preventive maintenance, which is performed according to a schedule, predictive maintenance monitors asset conditions in real time and prompts interventions before failures disrupt production.

Advances in sensors, analytics, and communication technologies are making predictive maintenance increasingly practical and affordable for small, medium and large manufacturing companies. Let’s take a look at four use cases that demonstrate the value of this type of strategy.

Use case 1: Electric motor condition monitoring

Worn components are a leading cause of three-phase electric motor failure. One beverage company manually inspected its bottling line motors at intervals of three and six months, and overhauled its motors once a year. Although workers replaced parts frequently, this approach was expensive and still failed to eliminate unplanned downtime.

Retrofitting the motor with a current sensor made it possible to run a distortion analysis in real time, detect abnormalities, and analyse the failure mode. With this insight, the company was able to eliminate time-consuming inspections and rely on alerts that signalled a service requirement.

Use case 2: Recirculating pump condition monitoring

Industrial recirculating pumps run almost continuously. One semiconductor manufacturer used manual inspections to check a motor in its water treatment plant, but conducting accurate inspections was difficult without shutting down the pump. Scheduling maintenance was always challenging because of the ongoing production requirements.

Retrofitting the recirculating pump with a vibration sensor made it possible to measure high-frequency vibrations, detect abnormalities and analyse the failure mode. Alerts enabled maintenance engineers to monitor pump health remotely, judge the potential impact of abnormalities, and solve problems without being on site.

Use case 3: Hydraulic system condition monitoring

Hydraulic valves are essential to the normal operation of many industrial machines. A leading auto manufacturer relied on manual thermal inspections to monitor the condition of the valves on its body panel hydraulic presses. Because maintenance engineers could not monitor valve temperature continuously, unplanned downtime lasting days or weeks sometimes occurred.

By retrofitting the presses with thermal image sensors, the company could continuously measure valve temperature, detect abnormalities and analyse the failure mode. Increases in surface temperature generated automatic alerts that allowed maintenance staff to take immediate action if necessary.

Use case 4: Power supply with onboard monitoring

Maintenance engineers for one automotive manufacturer were using digital voltmeters to check power supplies for conditions that were out of spec. These inspections were time consuming and imprecise since components sometimes degraded between inspections. To limit downtime, the manufacturer often had to replace power supplies, regardless of device health.

Retrofitting control panels with intelligent power supplies brought AI functionality to the factory floor. Each power supply calculated its remaining service and sent a real-time health grade to a built-in display. Onboard networking also supported remotely monitoring multiple power supplies from a central location.

The solution

Industrial equipment requires proper maintenance to maximise its lifespan, whether it is legacy or new. Ageing equipment is one of the top causes of unplanned downtime, but manufacturers experiencing high maintenance costs can now benefit from a new strategy. Predictive maintenance is a proactive strategy that involves evaluating your equipment’s condition through continuous monitoring. The goal is to use real-time data to identify component failures early, reduce unplanned downtime and avoid costly repairs.

The situation will vary from factory to factory. The first steps to installing sensors can be daunting, but Omron’s support teams are always on hand to offer guidance, whether you have already implemented predictive maintenance or are just starting out. Other factories are further down the road and have embraced automation in all stages of production. Those who enjoy the support of an Omron robot, for instance, will already be experiencing the reassurance of having a system that knows exactly what kind of maintenance is required, and precisely when. With integrated smart equipment, there is no more guesswork in the complex world of maintenance.


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