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Smart machine sensors venture into hazardous areas

07 February, 2020

ABB has developed a new version of its smart condition-monitoring sensor technology that can be applied to rotating machines operating in hazardous areas. The wireless sensor, aimed mainly at applications in the chemical, oil and gas industries, will make its public debut at the Hannover Fair in April.

The ABB Ability Smart Sensor monitors key parameters of equipment such as  motors and pumps to provide insights into their performance and health. It can safely monitor equipment installed in difficult or dangerous-to-access locations from a distance. By combining connectivity and data analytics it will allow users to plan their maintenance activities in advance, cutting downtime and extending equipment lifetimes.

“Our new generation of smart sensors provide high-quality data to enable ABB’s advanced analytics to be used in hazardous areas,” explains Teijo Kärnä, global product manager for the devices. “These smart sensors are more sensitive, which allows customers to see problems earlier. They also offer more monitoring capabilities, a broader communication range and exceptional battery life.”

This sensor’s batteries are said to last up to three times longer than most competing designs. The sealed-for-life devices, with IP66/67 protection ratings, can be mounted onto equipment in a matter of minutes using a simple bracket.

The sensor communicates with smartphones, tablets, PCs and gateways using either low-energy Bluetooth or WirelessHart. A new antenna design extends the transmission range by a factor of three to four, making reliable line-of-sight communications possible over distances of a few hundred metres.

ABB’s new sensor will allows users to carry out remote real-time health checks on powertrain equipment in hazardous areas, with improved analytics, operating lives and communications.

The latest sensors are also more sensitive to small changes in the condition of the equipment being monitored, and can give advanced warning of bearing damage, for example. The ability to generate a wider range of data is matched by integrated electronics incorporating advanced algorithms based on ABB’s extensive experience of electric motors. This will help operators and maintenance personnel to produce information that can predict potential failure, enabling remedial action to be taken before a breakdown occurs.

The smart sensor is currently completing Atex, IECEx and NEC certification to allow its use in hazardous areas. Other certificates are expected to follow over the coming year.

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