Protecting automation through predictive maintenance

Specialists in the design and manufacture of accelerometers for monitoring vibration and temperature levels of industrial machinery, Hansford Sensors Ltd reveal how they can play a key role in predictive maintenance
 Vibration monitoring is a powerful maintenance tool

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Manufacturers might describe automation as a powerful means by which machinery can carry out the work of a human being to achieve a significant economic advantage. However, for many companies in the manufacturing or processing sectors, gaining that economic advantage has not always been possible, as the costs of designing, specifying, purchasing, maintaining and running automated systems has been prohibitive. 

The advance of technology and a reduction in purchasing costs has, in recent years, enabled more operators to capitalise on automation, allowing a broader range of manufacturers to take advantage of the many options available. As a result, more and more manufacturers are looking to vibration monitoring to support their investment.

Automation delivers increased productivity, consistent quality and cost reduction, but by depending on physical rather than manual assets it places greater emphasis on effective maintenance. Vibration monitoring offers a powerful tool with which to maximise machine uptime, extend operating life beyond recommended maintenance intervals and avoid catastrophic failure. 

Vibration sensors, or accelerometers, offer the potential for continuous vibration condition monitoring and analysis – an inexpensive option when balanced against the potential cost of downtime. There are two main categories: AC accelerometers and 4-20mA accelerometers

AC accelerometers are typically used with data collectors for monitoring the condition of higher value assets, while 4-20mA components are commonly used with PLCs to measure lower value assets, such as motors, fans and pumps. Hansford Sensors offers AC and 4-20mA accelerometers that are intrinsically safe, being ATEX and IEC Ex certified, and can be used to detect pump vibration, motor vibration, fan vibration and machinery vibration in all other types of rotating equipment.

To enable the correct measurement of vibration occurring in casings and/or the radial and axial vibration of rotating shafts, accelerometers are mounted on the casing itself. By monitoring, for example, the individual frequencies within the signal that correspond to certain mechanical components or conditions, such as shaft imbalance, the location and nature of a given problem is swiftly identified. 

A well installed vibration sensor willindicate deteriorating operating conditions swiftly and with exceptional reliability, offering automation operators a valuable predictive maintenance tool with which to boost productivity and cut operating costs.

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