23 Jul 2024


Smart motor sensor is adapted to monitor pumps

ABB has collaborated with a Swiss pump-maker, Emile Egger, to adapt its smart motor-sensing technology to monitor pumps remotely.

ABB’s Ability Smart Sensor technology, announced in 2016, transmits sensor data wirelessly from low-voltage motors to give early warnings of possible problems, and to allow maintenance work to be carried out preventively, thus reducing downtime.

When Egger’s chief business development officer, Michel Grimm, heard about the ABB technology, he realised that it could be applied to pumps as well. “Pumps, such as those in wastewater plants, usually fail without warning,” he explains. “To prevent typical problems such as blockages, it is necessary to undertake time-consuming maintenance several times a week.”

Egger contacted ABB and the two companies agreed to develop a new smart sensor tailored to the specific needs of pumps. ABB brought together experts from Germany, India, the US and Switzerland, while Egger provided access to customers in Germany and Switzerland, whose input helped to develop the necessary analytics.

In less than a year, the developers had adapted the sensors so that they now monitor pump speeds, vibration levels, unbalance, cavitation (the formation of vapour bubbles in fluids) and clogging. These health and performance indicators are gathered and can be sent, via a gateway, to the ABB Ability Cloud.

The first tests were carried out at Egger’s facilities in Cressier, Switzerland, at the end of July 2017. ABB has since delivered the first prototypes for real-world testing at pilot sites.

The pump users can view data on their equipment via a smartphone app or a Web browser. ABB and specialised partners will carry out further analyses in the cloud to detect trends, and to run future cloud-based services.

•  ABB is continuing to develop the Ability Smart Sensor. In addition to the original point-to-point wireless transmission capability that allowed the sensor to communicate with devices such as mobile phones, a new Bluetooth version has been developed with a 60m range. The original sensor was designed for use in direct-on-line motor applications; a new version is being released that will monitor variable-speed drive applications as well. The sensors can now be used to monitor energy consumption, while a cooling algorithm is being developed. Finally, a new version of the sensor hardware has been developed for easy fitting to new motors, rather than as a retrofit to existing machines.