Keep your production line running efficiently with advanced predictive maintenance services from Schreier Industrial. We use state-of-the-art technologies to identify, diagnose, and resolve inefficiencies and faults before they grow into full-blown failures.
Predictive maintenance is one of the most effective approaches to equipment maintenance scheduling. Predictive maintenance is a more efficient, cost-effective solution that doesn’t waste the time, energy, and materials that preventative and reactive maintenance often do. Rely on the capabilities of predictive maintenance while still using preventative and reactive maintenance as secondary measures, and you can streamline your facility care schedule and optimize your production.
Continue reading for a primer on predictive maintenance and some of Schreier’s diagnostic technologies. Want to learn more or hear how these technologies could be integrated into your production? Contact Schreier Industrial today and we’ll work to implement a strategic predicative maintenance program suited for your business.
Manufacturing operations that utilize predictive maintenance are functioning as “accuracy-controlled enterprises.”
An accuracy-controlled enterprise (ACE) uses a “3T” system of “target-tolerance-test” as a quality assurance program. This 3T system specifies a target goal for improvement and standardization throughout the production process. Once a target is outlined, an acceptable range of tolerance in quality is determined. When that tolerance is decided and implemented, the changes are tested to guarantee their effectiveness in a functioning work environment.
An example of an ACE 3T in action is the implementation of a time-saving machine in the production schedule. The machine type must physically and logically fit into the production line without compromising the equipment and employees while also serving its time-saving purpose. After the new machine is tested for an effective period of time in the production schedule and any integration issues are eliminated, the ACE system can determine if the new equipment will improve manufacturing systems as well as the product. ACE 3T systems use state-of-the-art predictive technologies to determine whether a newly integrated solution will perform to expectations. These predictive technologies also provide you with the tools needed to pinpoint potential problems in your facility overall.
Moving and working equipment creates heat in several areas, whether that heat is a result of friction, combustion, electricity, or otherwise. In most cases, heat is generated in safe, predicted situations in the daily function of a facility. Cooling systems are integrated in areas that generate heat at higher levels, and other areas that create heat while functioning are monitored for irregularities using non-invasive predictive technologies like thermography. If heat-generating areas are not meeting acceptable levels, thermography technologies provide critical information about the location, degree, and potential cause of excess heat or component failures.
Thermography diagnostics can analyze equipment while in operation to examine areas that are generating excess heat. Thermographic imaging systems gather information about the varying temperatures in a manufacturing setting by reading emissions of radiation in the long-infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum. This system of diagnostics provides information about surface temperatures as well as internal heat emissions, which is why it is such a useful tool for non-invasive predictive maintenance.
Thermographic diagnostics prevent a wide range of failures that would otherwise be treated using reactive maintenance that leads to lost production time and resources. For example, thermography identifies and helps you prevent failures due to overheated motors, loose or overly tight bearings or connection points, lack of lubrication in a working system, misaligned belts, electrical surges, damaged electronic components, old parts, and much more. Thermography diagnostics also provide maintenance technicians with valuable information about overly cool components that should be meeting higher temperatures. This information helps you eliminate manufacturing issues from components or equipment not meeting the correct temperature such as welding tools, plastic fabrication, power supplies, metal working, machining, kilns, semiconductor or other chemical components, uneven heating, and more.
Thermographic predictive diagnostic systems are critical for catching heat anomalies in your production line and alerting technicians that some form of maintenance should be performed.
Another key technology used in effective predictive maintenance programs is vibration analysis. As components move, they create a resonance vibration that can be measured with vibration analysis software programs and equipment. If a component or full system is operating correctly, they will have a vibration pattern that meets standards for that specific equipment. Because of the variance in these standards, vibration analyses are adjusted based on the peak vibration any given system can sustain and maintain operations effectively.
When it comes to predictive maintenance programs, vibration analysis provides valuable diagnostics and data on the current state of a machine or component in operation. Like thermography, vibration analysis is a highly effective diagnostic measure for non-invasive predictive technologies.
Vibrations are measured with accelerometer that emits a signal voltage calibrated to be proportional to the vibration’s resonance signal and frequency. This records the vibration level and frequency both during the vibration and as often as the vibration occurs. If a vibration fluctuates intermittently, the accelerometer reads the changes and translates the information to a vibration analysis software program. The analyzed vibration is recorded in a format that either reads as “amplitude vs. frequency,” “amplitude vs. time,” or both. Since vibration analysis has been available in certain formats for centuries, such as an analog seismograph, there are specialists who can read the information an accelerometer provides, but most contemporary systems utilize software that gives more detailed, precise information. State-of-the-art vibration analysis technologies can pinpoint any issues in a component or system with extreme accuracy, and certain programs can even specify the source of an abnormal vibration.
Sources of abnormal vibrations can come from a range of failures in a system or component. Serious damage can come from even the smallest imbalance in vibrations as they gather resonance and create increasing unwanted force. Problem-causing vibrations can come from an imbalance in weight with a rotating component or a component with lateral motion; issues with lubrication such as debris, age, or a lack of a proper lubricant grade; damage to connection points; too tight or too loose bearings; errors made on equipment components in the fabrication process; misalignment of belts, shafts, and other components; broken or bent components; poor installation; and many other anomalies. Vibration analysis gives your maintenance technicians a non-invasive inspection process that can target issues before they pose a potential for serious failures on the production line.
Motors, gear systems, and other types of moving systems make up the bulk of floor equipment for many different types of manufacturing industries. Just like a combustion car engine, these systems need oil-based lubricants to function efficiently and without damaging themselves. Whether oil or synthetic compounds, these lubricants need to be replaced periodically as they break down and gather debris at varying rates, depending on the amount of use the equipment gets. Regularly scheduled oil changes are an industry standard for maintaining the quality and integrity of any moving system, but utilizing oil analysis can reveal a lot more about the condition of a lubricant and the moving system itself.
Oil analysis provides a way of examining the state of a moving system without having to take apart or destroy components of that system. In a predictive maintenance program, oil analysis is a key diagnostic technology that allows technicians to quickly learn detailed information about a moving system and its lubrication without having to stop the production schedule. Even with regular oil changes, a routine oil analysis checkup can offer valuable information about the performance of an equipment between maintenance. The information a predictive maintenance technician can gain from an oil analysis check includes specifications about the lubricant properties, any contaminants in the lubricant, and the level of debris collected from the motion of the equipment over time.
An analysis of lubricant properties gives maintenance technicians a foundation for further examination of the equipment in question. Industrial lubricants are made up of several compounds formulated to provide optimal lubrication in various temperatures with different viscosities. Different formulations of lubricant can break down more quickly than others depending on their use. Some equipment requires highly specific formulations, while others can operate efficiently on a range of oil grades. Determining the properties of a lubricant through oil analysis can tell technicians whether it will be effective when applied to a certain equipment or if it will lead to excess wear and tear or serious damage down the line.
With a foundational understanding of lubricant properties, technicians can apply that knowledge to troubleshoot with further analysis. Specifically, maintenance technicians can examine any contaminants that might be present in the lubricant. Whether in the formulation or packaging process or at some point during use, lubricants can occasionally be exposed to contaminating substances outside of the standard introduction of debris. In most cases, that exposure comes from the leaching of chemicals from a container or with the introduction of a contaminant from another source in your manufacturing facility. Oil analysis can diagnose problems caused from contaminant exposure and help technicians remove the source in the event it came from your own facility.
Industrial lubricants are designed to collect and suspend debris that naturally occurs in a moving mechanical system. Points of contact in a moving system will gradually removes flakes and shards of metal as the components are slightly worn away. Ideally, a clean lubrication will prevent this wear and tear from happening too quickly, but it’s impossible to prevent a small amount of debris from being scraped away. As lubrication collects this debris over time, a periodic oil analysis provides information on the rate of wear. If your components are wearing away too quickly or if your lubricant needs to be changed out, a thorough diagnostic will alert your technicians that action must be taken.
A standard oil analysis includes a spectral evaluation that examines the wear levels and the condition of silicon and other additives, a viscosity test that determines the oil grade, a test that measures the level of insoluble solids in the lubricant, and a flashpoint test that tells technicians if a contaminant is present based on the temperature that oil vapors ignite. A comprehensive oil analysis test adds significant value to your predictive maintenance program.
Ultrasonic Air Leak Detection
Many components of a working manufacturing facility require a sealed chamber that contains gas, a specific pressure level, a vacuum, or air flow. If the seal at any point is compromised within these types of systems, your production line can experience critical failure. Because of this, it’s highly recommended to have predictive technologies that can pinpoint and evaluate air leaks as soon as they occur, no matter how small a leak may be. While large air leaks are easily detected, tiny holes in a system can go unnoticed until a failure occurs if proper diagnostic technologies are not applied. Implement ultrasonic air leak detection technologies to find and fix even the smallest air leaks.
Ultrasonic air leaks emit sounds at frequencies outside the range of human hearing, which averages around 20 kilohertz for healthy adults. Ultrasonic air leaks meet frequencies of 20 kilohertz up to several gigahertz. Using ultrasonic air leak detection to monitor sealed systems like pumps, vacuum containers, ducts, ventilation, clean rooms, and more provides maintenance technicians with a way to quickly target leaks with non-invasive tools. In addition to this fast, effective way of detecting ultrasonic air leaks, this predictive technology can operate without requiring the shutdown of the production line, depressurization of systems, chamber exposure to contamination, or disassembly of parts.
Leak inspection technology detects the movement of gases, vaporized liquids like steam, or other air bodies out of a contained system through a flaw in that container. Flaws can occur as cracks, tears, or holes in a component, poorly sealed connection points, weakened areas prone to porousness, or any other cause of damage to a contained system that relies on a delicately balanced pressurization. The movement of that fluid air body through a flaw in the system creates a change in frequency and pressure that affects all the air in your facility but shows highly localized changes at the point of the leak. That localized shift generates ultrasonic frequencies that predictive leak inspection tools can target using turbulent flow readers. These readers translate sonic information through specialized headphone systems or into an imaging system that records decibel changes.
Scanning for leaks in contained systems with air or gas flow, pressurized environments, or vacuums is especially critical in manufacturing areas where the sound of the fluid motion of air saturates the workspace and leaks are impossible to detect otherwise. Ultrasonic air leak detection technologies in any facility with contained atmospheres are critical for the prevention of system failures and the protection of employees from exposure to air contaminants.
Any manufacturing facility generates different noises throughout the production line. Even in the quietest facility, the sounds of equipment and production can be used to diagnose the health of the workspace and manufacturing components overall. In a predictive maintenance program, acoustic monitoring of your equipment offers a wide net that catches many types of issues that could lead to a failure or shut down your production schedule. Though there are some more specialized acoustic monitoring technologies, the majority of standard monitoring systems are designed to process, analyze, and translate the acoustics and noises generated by electrical and mechanical equipment with moving parts.
For many years in industrial settings, listening to equipment as it functions was a primary way of troubleshooting issues and determining what maintenance to provide. In an effective contemporary predictive maintenance program, auditory diagnostics are still a highly useful way to understand what components have the potential for failure. Unlike the standby of just listening that many manufacturing technicians of days past may have employed, acoustic monitoring technologies today offer a much more accurate, well-informed report of equipment conditions. Industrial grade acoustic monitoring technologies are also designed to read acoustic emissions even with a large amount of background noise that is common to a manufacturing setting.
Predictive acoustic monitoring technologies include various tools such as acoustic cameras that identify the source of the sound in a moving assembly and quantify that sound into a visual. To do this, microphones on multiple axes around a component read the acoustic measurements generated while the equipment is operating. This information is then translated into an acoustic camera software program, the data is rendered into a light spectrum similar to infrared heat detection, and that rendering is overlaid on a digital image of the component being monitored.
Another common example of acoustic monitoring technology is the use of vibration measurement systems. Similar to vibration analysis technologies, acoustic vibration measurements are highly useful in any predictive maintenance program. When equipment must be monitored on the production floor and background noise levels might contaminate another type of acoustic diagnostic, vibration measurements can still be successfully applied. With any acoustics generated from potential issues in a working system, vibrations will accompany that sound. Using accelerometers, just as with other types of vibration analysis, maintenance technicians can translate data through a measurement program and compare the tolerance of the current acoustics with the measurements that should exist in a stable, correctly functioning system. The information can also be applied to a vibration spectrum to measure changes in the acoustic patterns over a certain period of time.
These types of acoustic monitoring and others provide predictive maintenance technicians with a way to understand patterns in vibration and sonic movement as an electronic, mechanical, or other system operates over time and in the face of various stressors. Acoustic monitoring technologies are effective in determining several issues on the manufacturing floor including fluid leaks, damaged connection points, slipping belts, poorly aligned components, weak weld points, incorrectly fabricated parts, lack of lubrication, imbalanced rotations, and much more.
Thermal Overload Relay
Some predictive maintenance technologies can be built into manufacturing equipment before it is even installed in your facility. These types of technologies are a reactive measure that plays a role in any effective predictive maintenance program. While not normally called a predictive technology, the thermal overload relay can play an important part in your overall predicative maintenance program.
Today, most electronics system fabricators are beginning to install thermal overload relays as a standard into main circuits of electromechanical equipment, and it is strongly recommended that facilities support all main device circuits with a thermal overload relay. If an electrical surge or overpowered source sends excess voltage to your equipment motors, a thermal overload relay closes the “doorway” of that electricity to the machinery. Thermal overload relays are designed to activate and cut off the power source to a motor at 115% to 125% overage, while circuit breakers and fuses only protect equipment at much higher and sudden increases in electrical current.
Thermal overload relays are not a new technology, but their design has developed significantly within the last 20 years. There are two standard formats of thermal overload relays: solder melting point and bimetal strip types. Both function with a heater that directly conducts from the temperatures generated by the current running through the motor. If the equipment’s temperature reaches levels above the equipment’s design specification, the relay heater engages the close switch.
A solder melting point (or solder pot) relay trips the disengage switch when the soft solder begins to melt from an overheated engine. A bimetal strip relay, on the other hand, uses strips of two metals with different heat expansion rates bonded together. If the metals are heated, they will begin to warp because their expansion rates twist them apart from each other. The warpage shifts the relay switch, causing it to disengage the motor from the power source. Bimetal strip relays are useful for calibrating different warpage rates depending on the metals used and the length of the strips.
Both types of thermal overload relays are highly effective ways of preventing equipment damage from an overheated engine and promoting longevity in your facilities. While thermal overload relays are not typically considered a predictive maintenance technology, they are one example of the many precautionary solutions you can implement in your manufacturing facilities that bring predictive, preventative, and reactive maintenance practices together.
Contact Schreier Industrial for to Implement Predictive Maintenance
Predictive technologies like these are changing the way manufacturers structure their maintenance programs. With the implementation of these state-of-the-art practices and diagnostic technologies, you can promote positive growth in your workplace and streamline your production and maintenance schedule. To learn more about predictive maintenance technologies and how you can start improving your maintenance programs today, contact Schreier Industrial at (218) 402-0838 or firstname.lastname@example.org.