Predictive Maintenance of Machine Parts at Port-Based Coal Conveying Facility [Success Story]

Coal Conveyor Application Image

Customer Requirements: Monitor vibration and temperature of rotating parts on large conveyor to prevent failure and unplanned downtime.

Solution: DMX100 wireless controller, Q45VT wireless node, QM42VT1 vibration and temperature sensor

Why Banner? Real-time communication – Quick and powerful wireless products provide vibration and temperature data in real-time

Spread spectrum telecommunications - 1 watt radio technology can cover the entire facility without the need for cumbersome repeaters

Rugged housing – made with heavy-duty material that is designed to resist shock, impact, vibration, as well as water and dust

Customer Benefits

Early warning system – Wireless products are used to alert operators of any bearing issues before they become large problems and prevent emergency repairs or shutdowns

Versatile solutions – Removable magnetic mounting option gives sensors the versatility to easily move to almost any part along the conveyor, as well as allowing maintenance personnel to temporarily uninstall the sensor for bearing service

Long battery life – Q45 nodes only require battery replacement in 2.5 year intervals, even with 15 minute sensor sample rate

Background

Port based coal conveying facilities use enormous conveyor belts to transfer large amounts of coal onto ships waiting in port. The weight of the coal combined with the speed of the conveyor creates a harsh environment even when everything is running as intended.  If a bearing issue develops and creates increased vibration, it can cause a catastrophic failure resulting in conveyor downtime.  Additionally, the idle ship remains at port on shore power while repairs must be made to the down conveyor.

In order to prevent such failures, the customer was contracting with an outside firm to periodically analyze the condition of the motors.  Not only was this method expensive, it was also not as effective in identifying bearing issues quickly compared to continuously monitoring the motors.

Challenges

Coal conveyors are very sizeable with numerous rotating parts and move high quantities of coal onto ships for transport. Any delays or breakdowns along the line could potentially cause thousands of dollars lost because of the extensive cost to repair in addition to the expense of keeping a ship waiting at port during unintended downtime.

The coal conveyors are very large and in a rough environment. Industrially rugged sensors are needed so that they can reliably detect excessive vibration and temperature before problems occur within the conveying system. The coal conveyors run for long lengths through an outdoor environment where weather can influence the equipment.

Collecting and analyzing bearing vibration and temperature is done periodically with specialized data acquisition equipment and analysis software which can be expensive and can miss faults between visits. Until recently, providing real time results has been expensive due to wiring costs.

Conveyors of this size have multiple moving and rotating parts. This means that almost any part of the coal conveyor may want to be monitored at any given time and a versatile solution is ideal.

Solution

Banner Engineering offers various products that can be used together to remotely monitor machine health in real time as part of an early warning system for predictive maintenance. Installing wireless vibration and temperature sensors on rotating machinery allows operators to get consistent readings indicative of potential failure. This system is then used to notify operators of increased levels of vibration or temperature that could cause damage to the machines.

Real time vibration monitoring in such a widespread environment can be challenging. The vibration and temperature status of numerous rotating components is sent to a DXM100 wireless controller where it is then monitored and updated roughly every 15-30 minutes. The sample rate saves the battery life of the device but still allows enough time for corrective action to be taken if the early warning system recognizes any issues. The controller can even be set up to send email or text message alerts if a dangerous threshold is reached.

The wireless products used in this application are able to send the information to a SCADA system where data is collected and monitored for predictive maintenance. The SCADA system presents the data to operators via an HMI (human machine interface) where they can observe trend or patterns in the readings and take action if anything appears to be failing or malfunctioning.

The sensors are also capable of being mounted with magnets and batteries instead of more permanent brackets or wires and can be moved easily from station to station. Magnets also enable easy removal for standard maintenance and cleaning procedures.

Conclusion

Large port facilities transport coal to ships via extensive conveyor belt systems. These systems are prone to vibration and temperature damage at any of their rotating parts which could lead to catastrophic failure if not tended to in a timely manner. Traditionally, analysis equipment is periodically brought in to collect and analyze data to determine if maintenance is required. This procedure is costly and does not provide real-time results. Utilizing wireless solutions – such as the QM42 vibration and temperature sensor, the Q45 wireless node, and the DXM100 controller – makes predictive maintenance and real-time monitoring possible. Made with rugged and durable material, these products can withstand the dirty outdoor environment. 

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