October 10, 2014
For businesses in sectors where profitability relies heavily on efficiency, like the ports and process industries for example, mitigating downtime is crucial.It may even be the single most important pressure underlying daily operations, as an hour’s delay in one part of any process can easily lead to additional costs in the five figures.
If these businesses had the ability to predict where and when faults would occur and thus prevent these expensive unexpected breakdowns, the benefits would be dramatic.This is where Konecranes’ condition monitoring solution for hoisting gearboxes and hoisting motors enters the picture.
Vibration reveals all
The technology behind fault prediction in this case lies with sensing vibrations, which can indicate that a problem within a component is developing.
The condition monitoring solution employs a number of vibration-focused sensors (see above). These are positioned depending on the size and specification of the gearbox and motors. Avoidable faults typically begin with parts such as bearings and gear wheels, and trends identified within the sensor data can show when such a problem is liable to occur.
Above: Diagnostic units mounted in the electrical cubicle trigger measurements based on sensor configuration. They also gather data from the vibration monitoring sensors and store it in the database.
The sensors must first be installed and configured depending on the components in question. The data they provide is then transferred to Konecranes’ Remote Center. There, along with the rest of the customer’s TRUCONNECT remote monitoring and reporting information, the data is stored, compiled and either displayed on the TRUCONNECT interface or communicated in the form of reports or safety alerts.
Threshold limits are pre-defined for each of the components being monitored, and when they are reached, the system triggers an alarm to alert the customer. Two different threshold levels help the user to establish the current status of the issues: one at which they are advised to take caution and contact the service organization, and the second, which indicates that the equipment is in a critical state and may soon result in a machine failure.
In addition to savings in downtime, another key benefit of this solution is that it allows customers to optimize their maintenance activities. In the past they would have been required to operate a schedule of calendar-based preventive maintenance to check for and correct faults. But with this solution in place they can simply act on the actual condition of the equipment when necessary. This represents significant cost savings for the customer.
But perhaps even more importantly, condition monitoring saves customers from the costly practice of keeping spare gearboxes on site, the current norm in downtime-conscious maintenance practice. With a spare gearbox costing in the region of 25 to 30,000 euros – not to mention storage, which comes at a premium, for example, in port environments – this is a very desirable saving indeed. One that can be avoided altogether thanks to condition monitoring.
Text: Raheel Farhat