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Wireless machine condition sensors create mesh networks

27 May, 2014

SKF has announced a wireless machine condition-sensor network that gathers vibration and temperature data for condition monitoring and machinery diagnostics. The battery-operated sensors communicate with each other, and with a wireless gateway, to create mesh networks. They are said to be ideal for monitoring rotating machinery spread across large plants, in awkward locations, or where traditional WiFi communications will not work.

The sensors “offer monitoring capabilities that may be impossible with wired systems or hand-held devices,” explains SKF product line manager, Jan Hendrik van der Linden. “This can ultimately lead to reduced condition monitoring costs as well as to a safer approach to machine monitoring.”

The sensors, the size of a typical industrial accelerometer, incorporate a router node. Their batteries can last for four years in the field.

The sensors use the WirelessHart communication protocol and have Atex Zone 0 certification, allowing them be used in hazardous environments such as those found in petrochemical, oil and gas, or pharmaceutical plants.

Data is relayed from one node to another, and to the gateway. Automated commands from device manager software initiate the measurement and processing circuits to transmit the data over the network. If a node is unable to receive signals directly from the WirelessHart gateway, it will send and receive its data through a nearby node that can pass the data to and from the gateway – thus creating the mesh network.

SKF's wireless sensors monitor machine vibrations and temperatures

Once the data has been collected, the gateway communicates with the device manager software which exports the data to SKF’s @ptitude Analyst diagnostic and analytic software, where plant engineers can analyse it and determine a suitable course of action.

SKF says that the wireless sensors will help users to improve their maintenance programmes, cut their maintenance and installation costs, and enhance employee and machine safety.

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