Condition monitoring: a success factor for digitalization in mechanical engineering
Condition monitoring, the system-supported monitoring of machines, is an important component of the digital transformation in industry. So far, however, most machine manufacturers offer only basic options for condition monitoring. In contrast, end-to-end solutions that meet more complex requirements, such as condition monitoring across entire machine parks, are still very scarce.
What can machine manufacturers do to help their customers make progress with machine condition monitoring – and what benefits can they themselves derive?
Condition monitoring makes it possible to continuously monitor the technical condition of machines. To this end, machine data is collected with the aid of sensors, transmitted in real time and evaluated. This data includes, for example, technical measured values such as speeds, temperatures, fill levels and vibrations. As soon as these parameters move outside a defined normal range, this can indicate progressive wear or an imminent defect. Based on these findings, responsible parties can immediately order maintenance measures and repairs.
These are the benefits of a condition monitoring system
A condition monitoring system helps to increase plant efficiency and also safety. Specifically, permanent machine monitoring has the following benefits for machine operators:
The goal: End-to-end condition monitoring solutions
Many mechanical engineers today equip their products with basic condition monitoring options. For instance, operating companies have the option of recording and documenting specific sensor values of an individual plant. However, the full potential of condition monitoring is not yet exhausted. With the help of end-to-end approaches, it would be possible, for example, to compare the conditions of several machines in order to derive improvement measures from the findings. Similarly, modern maintenance approaches such as predictive maintenance can only be implemented with comprehensive solutions. But what are the technological prerequisites for this?
Cloud solutions are necessary if machines from different manufacturers are to be monitored centrally at different sites. First, different data sources have to be networked with each other. The aim should be to combine, process and evaluate all relevant operating parameters. In machine parks which have evolved over many years and are thus usually very heterogeneous, however, this represents a tremendous challenge. Medium-sized industrial companies in particular have neither the financial resources nor the IT expertise to implement central machine monitoring themselves. Consequently, they need compatible solutions that are already prefabricated, easy to integrate, and cost-efficient.
What roles do AI algorithms play in condition monitoring?
Compared to manual process monitoring, system-based condition monitoring already offers considerable added value. However, even this approach can be further optimized. For instance, the challenge of a classic condition monitoring system is that the recorded conditions must be permanently monitored by qualified personnel. However, specialists of this kind are hard to find on the labor market. Employing them 24/7 is also difficult to realize. This is where AI algorithms come into play. Not only can they take over machine condition monitoring and sound the alarm in the event of deviations from the norm. They are often also capable of learning, so that over time they can provide increasingly precise forecasts regarding critical incidents. On this basis, inspections and maintenance can then be planned in a targeted and forward-looking manner. In other words: Thanks to AI, classic machine monitoring becomes predictive maintenance. This maintenance approach is in turn an important component of the smart factory, in which not only production but also maintenance largely organizes itself.
Important step towards digital production
Condition monitoring and predictive maintenance are two fundamental elements of Industry 4.0. Until now, corresponding apps and systems were usually limited to a specific machine manufacturer. It was only possible to implement interoperable solutions with a great deal of effort. With bundled expertise and the neutral technology platform, ADAMOS is eliminating this obstacle. The alliance is thus making an important contribution to the digital transformation of German industrial companies.
[Translate to English:]