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Construction : Components Accessories Spares Hardware | January 2019 | Source : Equipment India

Predictive Maintenance: A Paradigm Shift

IIoT is opening new doors in terms of accuracy and efficiency for companies when it comes to predictive maintenance. Pooja Patil elaborates more...

Timely and quick maintenance is a key factor in off-highway equipment. Trucks and equipment used in the construction and mining industry are expected to operate 24/7 at remote locations. However, higher acquisition costs and budgetary constraints make it difficult for fleets to optimise the operations and productivity. The extreme environment conditions can create havoc on fleets if they are not regularly maintained. In the event of a breakdown, fleet owners could incur high costs and it takes substantial time and effort to repair. More often than not, the costs of downtime can be avoided by leveraging next generation technologies.

Automotive, off-highway and mobile industries are on the front foot when adopting approaches to digitisation. This high level of digitisation has resulted in vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-cloud connectivity. These connected vehicles utilise advanced automation technologies and hardware such as modular controls, sensors and I/O system, equipped with condition monitoring functions are bringing all kinds of new functionality to drivers, operators and fleet owners.

Opportunities and challenges
Benefits of predictive maintenance are substantial! Many manufacturing set-ups have already realised its importance and employed this Industrial IoT (IIoT) solution to maintain optimal product quality, improve equipment reliability and increase overall efficiency. IIoT is opening new doors in terms of accuracy and efficiency for companies when it comes to predictive maintenance.

Off-highway equipment are used in a wide range of operations in agricultural, construction and mining industry. Smallest issue in its operations can snowball into serious problems if it is undetected. Off-highway fleets' works 24/7 and operators or owners cannot afford vehicle breakdown, nor can they waste time in troubleshooting the fault. In such cases, condition monitoring not only allows to determine areas for improvement, but also help manufacturers identify potential problems and take necessary actions before issues occur. Condition based monitoring can detect even the smallest impending failures early enough avoiding unplanned equipment downtime, which clearly saves money and time. Condition monitoring is an efficient, accurate and reliable solution to keep fleets up and running providing a perfect picture of the assets operations. By identifying areas for improvement, OEMs can boost productivity and efficiency while reducing operational costs.

Unlike stationary machinery, monitoring off-highway equipment brings substantial challenges. Digitisation in mobile machinery and connected vehicles daily generate and exchange huge amount of data, which is expected to further grow in future. Safe and secure transfer of data is a major concern for OEMs and fleet owners. Off-highway equipment generally operates in extreme weather conditions. Sustainability of hardware and sensors in harsh environment is one of the challenges OEMs face while implementing condition monitoring. With the right tools and strategy, there are ways to overcome these challenges.

Advanced condition monitoring solutions
B&R solutions allow automation concepts for construction equipment and municipal vehicles as well as for agriculture and forestry applications to be implemented easier than ever. OEMs benefit from an easy-to-operate development environment, high-performance real-time operating system and ready-made software components. The modular X90 control and I/O system provides machine builders with highest degree of performance, scalability and cost competitiveness for such heavy- duty applications.

The modular X90 control and I/O system is equipped with condition monitoring functions. Problems can be detected in their early stages and corrected before they result in unplanned downtime. Condition-based predictive maintenance can maximise machine availability and save the considerable cost of outages and unplanned service calls. The X90 module allows operators to continuously monitor the status of mobile equipment. The results help determine exactly which components require maintenance and when. Typical applications include continuous monitoring of rotating components such as hydraulic assemblies, belts, gears and motors. The processed sensor data is also available for further use in the application.

The heart of the X90 mobile control system is a powerful ARM processor and multifunction I/O channels. Basic features include interfaces for CAN, Ethernet and the real-time POWERLINK bus system. The extremely robust cast aluminium housing provides space for up to four option boards. These can add additional I/O channels, interfaces and even a full-fledged safety controller with safe I/O. Additional option boards for WLAN, Bluetooth and GPS interfaces are in planning. GPS monitoring has become a standard feature on many construction vehicles. Not only does this allow them to be located, it also makes it possible to track their movement and record their hours of operation. Many large mines situated in very remote areas, and are difficult to monitor from a company's central control base. In such cases, GPS can provide the information of failed vehicles to on field so that nearby vehicles can move to help resolve the failures to minimise downtime.

All products in the X90 mobile family are designed for use in harsh industrial environments. They can handle operating temperatures from -40 to +85¦C and are resistant to vibration, shock, salt, UV light and oil. Adherence to specific industry standards for agriculture, forestry, construction and municipal vehicles ensures maximum flexibility when using mobile automation products. In addition, the X90 mobile control system also carries numerous certifications.

High availability with safety and security OEMs are using big data analytics tools to convert enormous volumes of data into valuable information. Big data, cloud connectivity new challenges of safety and security of the data come to the fore. For safe and secure data transfer between field and cloud, B&R relies on the vendor-independent OPC UA communication protocol. OPC UA is an open source communication protocol widely used in industrial automation applications as well as has made its way into off-highway equipment. It is based on the client-server principle and allows seamless vertical and horizontal connectivity. The protocol is platform-independent and features built-in safety mechanisms. Since OPC UA is flexible and completely independent, it is regarded as the ideal communication protocol for the implementation of Industry 4.0.

Pooja Patil is Corporate Communications Manager at B&R Industrial Automation.

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