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Fin-mounting motor monitor helps to predict problems

17 April, 2018

At the recent Drives & Controls Show in the UK, the Brazilian motor-maker WEG unveiled a device that attaches to an electric motor to monitor its performance in real time via an app running on a tablet or smartphone. The Motor Scan device measures vibration and surface temperature to detect any anomalies. It can also monitor running hours, and provide data on motor operating speeds and start/stop times. WEG is planning to add the ability to monitor loads, efficiencies, rotor imbalances, misalignments and bearing condition.

The tiny device (measuring 44 x 38 x 25mm) attaches to the fin of WEG motors in frame sizes 100–450 using a mounting clamp. It allows maintenance personnel to make informed decisions about the health of their motors and to implement predictive and preventative maintenance programmes.

The device connects wirelessly via Bluetooth to a smartphone or tablet running an Android or iOS app which allows users to view the data. They can also access the data on laptops or desktops via a dedicated Web portal.

The captured data is stored and processed in the cloud to help predict potential failures or hidden problems, based on analysis of the frequency spectrum. Warning levels can be pre-set, based on acceptable levels of temperature and vibration. The software can also plot performance curves, based on the captured data.

WEG says that the device will takes the monotony out of collecting and monitoring data by hand, as well as removing the guesswork of preventive maintenance and eliminating the inefficiency of reactive maintenance. Also, by training maintenance professionals to take on the specialised requirements of predictive maintenance, it provides the opportunity for companies to upskill their staff and expand their capabilities.

“The WEG Motor Scan can predict and avert a crisis before it happens,” says Andrew Glover, WEG’s European manager for low-voltage motor products. “It is just like having a crystal ball that lets you know what is going to happen in the future.

WEG’s Motor Scan device monitors motor performance in real time via handheld devices or the cloud

“We find that fixing a problem before it happens is the most cost-effective form of maintenance and this provides direct benefits to our clients,” he adds. “Clients can reduce cost, improve profitability and use their resources more efficiently.”

WEG is planning to add the ability to measure loads and efficiencies based on a motor’s vibration frequency spectrum, which gives information about its speed. Combining this with data on the motor derived from its serial number will provide information on the slip in an application and, from this, an algorithm will calculate the load and efficiency.

Other functions planned for the future include the detection of misalignments, rotor imbalances and bearing condition.

The Motor Scan can store data onboard for three months. Its batteries have a three-year life, after which WEG will replace the device. WEG is still finalising details of pricing, but the devices will probably come with a one-year subscription to the support services. From the second year, users will take out an annual subscription.

WEG’s Motor Scan is the latest in a series of similar motor-monitoring technologies, including ABB’s Ability Smart Sensor and Siemens’ Simotics iQ  system.

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