Maintenance, Test & Measurement, Calibration

Condition monitoring systems from ifm

Technews Industry Guide: Maintenance, Reliability & Asset Optimisation 2020 Maintenance, Test & Measurement, Calibration

Condition monitoring systems are used for condition-based maintenance of machines and installations. They help to detect machine damage in good time and prevent costly consequential damage. The ifm product range comprises systems for monitoring vibration, oil quality, compressed air and water consumption. Vibration sensors detect damage to rolling element bearings and gears or unbalance in drives and rotating machine parts. Systems for oil quality monitoring assist in the early detection of water and abrasion particles in hydraulic liquids and lubricants to prevent operational disturbances or damage to hydraulic power units, pumps, valves, cylinders and machines.

The new VVB sensor with IO-Link – simple to implement industrial condition monitoring

• Effective, on-line condition monitoring for simple machinery.

• Seamless integration directly into Industrial Ethernet systems.

• Simple real-time indicators for automated alerts.

• Improved performance thanks to IO-Link.

• Raw signal capture for advanced analytics.

• No control cabinet or extensive wiring required thanks to IO-Link.

Real-time maintenance for industrial machines

Industrial grade machine protection integrates directly into your existing control platform. Machine condition is continually monitored for common fault conditions of impacts, component fatigue, and friction. This allows the timely and predictable scheduling of maintenance before major damage or failure and production downtime. Machines are continuously and permanently protected unlike intermittent monitoring systems.

Easy connection thanks to IO-Link

The industrial proven IO-Link system simplifies integrating Industry 4.0 technology directly into existing control platforms. Expensive secondary networks, gateways, and IT support is not needed. IO-Link masters send status signals to the controls and have the ability to send calculated and raw vibration signals to higher-level systems for advanced analytics.

Process values

The vibration sensor VVB0xx internally acquires and analyses various process values that are used to detect machine errors:

• v-RMS (machine looseness conditions): effective value of the vibration velocity, identifies component fatigue.

• a-RMS (machine friction conditions): effective value of the acceleration, identifies mechanical rubbing.

• a-Peak (machine impact conditions): maximum acceleration, identifies mechanical impacts.

• Crest-factor: a-Peak/a-RMS, is one of the important measures of overall machine condition.


Identifies a rising temperature caused by excessive friction or other effects (e.g. electrical causes, lubrication problems, etc.).

Raw data

The sensor also provides raw data recording of the acceleration time waveform for detailed analysis or cause analysis in case of damage. These are issued on request as a BLOB (Binary Large Object) and transmitted using IO-Link. The system can record the operating condition at 4 second intervals and transmit the data during several minutes to higher-level systems.

Online condition monitoring with fieldbus interface

The VSE15x from ifm electronic is a 6-channel diagnostic system designed to evaluate four dynamic signal inputs (e.g. accelerometer or analogue signals) and two analogue inputs (e.g. digital or analogue signals). The VSE15x family provides different fieldbus interfaces to exchange data with a PLC. This makes it possible to display the measuring values directly on the control system and optimally adapt the monitoring functions to the operating states and processes of the machine. In addition to the fieldbus, two fast digital switching, hardwired outputs are provided for time-critical alarms, one of which can be configured for an analogue output (for example a display).

Programming and analytical software

The VES004 software is an easy-to-use, free downloadable software used to program the VSEs, collect historical data, view and record live spectrum and time waveform data and also allows sharing of configuration and data files with colleagues.

Key process values

• Frequency domain: easy adjustable monitoring of frequency specific or overall vibration values.

• Time domain: easy adjustable monitoring of time related events for fast reaction (e.g. crash detection).

• Other: easy setup for monitoring objects such as gear mesh frequency, misalignment, etc.

Reduced network complexity saves time and money

The direct PLC connection via fieldbus allows auxiliary parameters (e.g. rotational speed and triggers for operating states), as well as non-critical alarms from condition monitoring to be exchanged over the bus. This not only reduces wiring complexity but also saves the cost of providing the corresponding inputs/outputs on the PLC.

Machines with varying processes, such as machine tools, have high demands on condition monitoring systems. To recognise deterioration in quality at an early stage and avoid scrap, or even damage, a process-dependent detection of even the smallest change is necessary. This can ideally only be achieved by interlinking the operating parameters (e.g. rotational speed, power consumption, feed rate, tool, etc.) and the vibration data into the PLC. This combination of control and condition monitoring data enables process-dependent monitoring, leading to a considerable increase in quality and process reliability. The same applies to diagnosis (rolling-element bearing condition, ball screw, unbalance, gear mesh problems, etc.), where, in many cases, a high degree of diagnostic validity can only achieved by combining the vibration monitoring data with the machine/process parameters of the PLC.

Influencing process factors must be minimised and the measured data evaluated systematically. Here, too, integrating condition monitoring with the PLC is an enormous advantage and a direct fieldbus connection provides the optimal solution.

Rapid response protects machinery

If machine protection is part of the monitoring concept, a fast response is critical to minimise potential damage. For time-critical alarms, the diagnostic electronics provide two additional digital outputs with a response time of 1 ms, which can be used to initiate an immediate machine stop to minimise, or even completely avoid, consequential damage.

Machine protection and remote maintenance

The monitoring of wind-power gearboxes or pumps in the water supply concerning wear and stress make it possible for the operator to organise efficient maintenance. Alarm outputs serve to protect the system, to trigger remote maintenance and to facilitate targeted analysis.


The ongoing wear of machine parts cannot be prevented. However, ifm electronics’ permanent vibration monitoring and diagnostic solutions use the technologies of Industry 4.0 to ensure that such degradation is reliably detected in time. Predictive maintenance can then be scheduled and expensive plant downtime prevented with comparably little investment, which in the end has positive effects on energy efficiency, overall equipment effectiveness and product quality assurance.


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