Wearable Sensors to Bring IoT to Small Manufacturing

A new smart sensing solution from ABB will make IoT benefits available to industries, even to small manufacturers, providing improvements in productivity, efficiency, and energy thanks to a “wearable” for all low-voltage (LV) motors. 

ABB, the leading global technology company in power and automation, has recently introduced a new smart sensing solution that can reduce downtimes of low-voltage (LV) motors up to 70 percent and extend their lifetime by up to 30 percent.

The new technology transforms simple motors into intelligent machines capable of telling when they need servicing. Smart sensors are attached directly to the motor supply information regarding operating and condition parameters via wireless transmissions.

Plant operators now can count with an innovative sensor technology that brings a huge potential of savings on maintenance and repair. This technology enables motors to utilize the Internet of Things Services and People (IoTSP), an ABB's concept for enabling its small and mid-size customers with the opportunities of IoT and the digital world.

The sensors can be easily installed at the factory, or retrofitted on already operating LV motors. Once installed, they provide information on operating and condition parameters such as vibration, temperature, or overload, and calculates power consumption. The volume of data is then analyzed by a specially developed software program and the plant operator receives the graphics for maintenance planning.

“This innovative solution makes condition monitoring the new standard for low-voltage motors,” said Pekka Tiitinen, President of the ABB's Discrete Automation and Motion division in a press release. “Optimized maintenance schedules help reduce maintenance costs greatly. Unscheduled outages are reduced considerably, or even eliminated completely. Increased availability significantly boosts our customers' productivity.”

The impact of the ABB sensor on small manufacturers includes:

  • Factories lose up to 20% of production capacity due to unplanned downtime
  • Predictive maintenance can reduce motor downtime by up to 70%
  • Small motor condition monitoring can reduce energy consumption by 10%
  • Electric motor-driven systems used in industrial processes consume an estimated 23% of all U.S.electricity sold

“The customer benefits, i.e. reduced downtown and increased product lifetime, are for both big and small manufacturers,” Henrik Ryegard, head of marketing and product management, Motors and Generators Service at ABB told EBN. “Actually, for a small manufacturer it is in many cases more difficult to build up the competence needed on motors to do the maintenance than for a large manufacturer.”

According to Ryegard, the Internet of Things Services and People (IoTSP), and especially the Smart Sensor, adds a lot of value, as the solution analyses and interprets the data and gives recommendations for optimal maintenance. “Thus, there is less need for motor expertise within the company, or the plant,” he said.

Encrypted security protects the data that the smart sensors transmit wirelessly to a secure server. The data, which is encrypted and stored in the cloud, is then analyzed using special algorithms. The Internet-based customer portal also uses a role-based protocol making the data securely accessible, guaranteeing maximum security at all times.

Adding attractiveness to what seems to be the perfect IoT technology that small manufacturing should be adopting this year, is the return on investment (ROI). According to ABB, this innovative technology pays for itself in less than a year, making it fully accessible to small manufacturing looking to optimize their operations.  

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