IIoT System Monitors Rotating Equipment Health in Real Time

By RFID Journal

A wireless energy-harvesting solution offered by Everactive continuously streams and analyzes rotating machine data to increase uptime, equipment effectiveness and energy efficiency.

Everactive, a provider of wireless, battery-free Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) systems, has offering its Machine Health Monitoring (MHM) solution. The technology is designed to deliver real-time, maintenance-free insights into the health of rotating equipment, such as motors, pumps, fans and compressors.

Everactive's wireless sensor network operates without batteries, using the company's proprietary Eversensors, which are powered exclusively from low levels of harvested energy, such as a warm machine surface or dim indoor light. The company says the system requires no upfront expenditures or ongoing battery maintenance, while providing a continuous monitoring service.

The MHM solution detects machine faults by transmitting vibration, temperature and magnetic field data to the cloud. Utilizing batteryless sensors that require no maintenance, MHM allows plant personnel to deploy limited maintenance resources only when and where they are required. This approach lets operators monitor all machines, Everactive explains, regardless of size, in order to optimize factory efficiency. 

"Our Machine Health Monitoring solution alerts plant operators to critical machine issues in real time and across all machines, resulting in increased uptime, improved equipment efficiency and reduced energy usage," said Bob Nunn, Everactive's CEO, in a prepared statement. "Without the maintenance and waste that comes with batteries, plants can implement predictive maintenance at scale, delivering the type of pervasive remote monitoring that has become all the more vital in the wake of COVID-19." 

With hundreds of millions of rotating machines consuming 53 percent of the world's electricity at the heart of the industrial sector, machine failure can have significant consequences. Mitigating the impact of these events, Everactive reports, can help an industrial firm's bottom line. The most consequential failures result in unplanned downtime, costing manufacturers approximately $260,000 per hour in lost productivity, according to Aberdeen. At the same time, aging and poorly maintained equipment increases not only electricity bills, but also routine maintenance costs; repair costs are typically higher the longer it takes to identify and address machine faults, Everactive notes.

According to Everactive, this ability to pinpoint and address machine failure events as they occur can reduce industrial operating costs by billions of dollars per year and dramatically improve a plant's sustainability record. Doing so with zero-maintenance, self-powered sensors enables widespread coverage without any battery-management costs, boosting the return on a company's IIoT investments.

MHM is designed to reduce upfront and ongoing costs. The system includes Eversensors that transmit machine health data every minute via an IoT gateway to the company's Evercloud cloud-based analytics platform, which provides analysis and trend data across a variety of parameters. Evercloud sends real-time alarms via email and/or SMS text messages as issues are identified, based on the specific profile of monitored machine and/or user-configurable thresholds. 

Traditionally, plant operators have relied on intermittent manual equipment inspections, an inefficient process that leaves a factory vulnerable to any issues that may arise between inspections. MHM provides reliability professionals and vibration analysts with real-time visibility to prevent unanticipated events. "Everactive's batteryless energy-harvesting sensor, coupled with their proprietary low power, long range, high bandwidth communication and advanced analytics, are highly complementary to ABB's vision of the future of Industrial IoT," said Franziska Bossart, the group VP at ABB Technology Ventures, a manufacturer of industrial motors and related equipment, in the prepared statement. 

"Using that technology platform to remotely monitor rotating equipment is extremely compelling and widely applicable," Bossart explained. "It offers customers a granular, up-to-the-minute look at their equipment—without the added layer of battery management—that could very well feed the deeper motor analytics developed by ABB over several decades."

Everactive's devices are rated for twenty years, the company reports, without the need for maintenance. A non-invasive installation process, using either a magnetic, bolt-on or epoxy attachment, is intended to minimize the need for specialized tools, and the process can be completed in less than ten minutes per device. The wireless network's range is from around 500 feet in heavy-interference industrial settings to more than half a mile for line of sight, Everactive reports, and the system's scalable network provides a light infrastructural footprint of gateways throughout a customer's facility. 

The Eversensors are Class I, Division 2-certified to operate in hazardous locations in which explosion or fire hazards exist due to the presence of flammable liquids, gases or vapors. The devices are  IP66-rated for protection against dust and water ingress, and they feature temperature ranges for outdoor and indoor applications of -40 degrees to +392 degrees Fahrenheit (-40 degrees to +200 degrees Celsius).

The MHM solution is available for field trials now, with plant-wide production availability expected at the end of June 2020. The solution is sold to customers with no upfront capital cost as part of an annual service agreement.