EQUIPMENT BREAKDOWN PREVENTION

We are all familiar with preventive and reactive maintenance. Some of us might be even interested in Predictive Maintenance, foreseeing when equipment will fail in the future. This prediction is based on large sets of data collected by sensors. This scientific domain is still in development and most companies are, understandably, reluctant to base their maintenance plans on any form of uncertainty.

Monitoring the condition of a deteriorating piece of equipment, sending early warning signals, is currently as close as we can get to predicting possible future failures. At B-Synergy we refer to it as "Equipment Breakdown Prevention". Condition monitoring is not a new concept; production plants and storage terminals, for example, have been using sensors for quite some time in their production processes. Sensors detecting unwanted vibrations, abnormal temperature changes, leakage spill or any other kind of signal which is alarming but not yet causing an actual breakdown.
These situations require intervention of your Maintenance Team but have remained undetected in the past. There are, however, some interesting technical challenges that require attention when implementing this technology:

- Collecting data from sensors installed on equipments in remote area’s where there is no Wi-Fi coverage or power source;
- Sometimes operating in ATEX (Atmosphere Explosible) zones;
- Retrofitting old types of equipment with sensors in an easy to install, cost-friendly manner;
- Analysis of signals and converting these signals into concrete actions to be performed by maintenance engineers.

What if all of these mentioned technical challenges were a thing of the past? Wouldn't it be great if your maintenance team is notified completely automatically using your company’s own legacy software such as SAP or Infor LN? In fact, this is already possible incorporating a Packaged OutSystems Solution for SAP, named B-Synergy's Plant Maintenance Platform, with LoRa and LoRaWAN technology.

INTERNET OF THINGS: THE NEXT STEP IN PLANT MAINTENANCE

SENSOR CONNECTIVITY USING LORA-WAN TECHNOLOGY

LoRaWAN or Long Range Wide Area Network is designed to allow low-powered devices to communicate with Internet-connected applications over long range wireless connections without the need for a 4G or Wi-Fi Network. Battery consumption is low, the range is wide and the bandwidth required is limited. In other words: perfectly suitable for the Internet of Things (IoT) and use in environments with explosive atmospheres (ATEX).

LoRa is intended for equipment that does not constantly require an internet connection, but needs to pass on some data from time to time. It makes use of a license-free radio frequency bands like 868 MHz in Europe or 915 MHz in Australia and North America. LoRa enables long-range transmissions up to 10 km or more with low power consumption which can be supplied by two simple penlight batteries, providing up to 5 years of power. In some instances it is even possible to replace these batteries with a high efficiency light-energy solar cell, optimized for low light absorption. Devices equipped with LoRa have geolocation capabilities used for triangulating positions via timestamps from gateways. 
Create Plant Maintenance Notifications automatically through the LoRaWAN network
LoRa's architecture consists of gateways, network servers and application servers. Radio frequency chips (RFID) are used to transmit a spread spectrum. Spread spectrum is a form of wireless communication in which the energy of the transmitted signal is deliberately spread over a certain frequency domain. These signals have a much larger bandwidth than the information they contain, creating a noisy signal that is difficult to detect or intercept. Moreover, it is difficult to disturb a spread spectrum signal with another signal. Because of these properties spread spectrum is ideal for applications and environments where a high reliability of the signal is required.

USE ON EXISTING EQUIPMENT

At production sites, many installed equipments such as valves, are manually operated. They require to be regularly checked and controlled. This process can be facilitated by digitisation. Monitoring these valves will avoid leakage spill and/or contaminations, increasing on-site safety. Communications of the valve sensors via a LoRaWAN - IoT network, ensures IT security and the total cost of ownership can be minimised. The gateways are made for the same industrial conditions and requirements of the valve sensors globally.

Reliability is the first thing to consider when providing insight based on new technologies. Therefore, valve sensors have been specifically designed to only communicate the essential: closed or open. The sensor units can be easily bolted on to existing valves and taken in to operation swiftly. 

SIGNAL TO ACTION

Now we have covered the (retro)fitting of existing equipments with sensors that can operate in remote, ATEX zones, using LoRa and LoRaWAN data transport technology, we still need to focus on the data interpreting and taking action when required. This is where B-Synergy comes in. The B-Synergy Plant Maintenance Platform can integrate seamlessly with any system of records. It can create Notifications in your company's ERP software - such as SAP - automatically based on custom defined business rules. In that way, the equipment might me prevented from breaking down.

If you would like to learn more, please contact our Plant Maintenance Specialist Koen van Halder using contact details below. Or click the button above to schedule a demo immediately.
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