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Schaeffler is an e-F@ctory Alliance partner

21 February 2017

Schaeffler is a certified partner in the e-F@ctory Alliance, a factory automation initiative by Mitsubishi Electric Europe which focuses on Industry 4.0.

The FAG SmartCheck condition monitoring device from Schaeffler is now a certified e-F@ctory Partner Product and plays a leading role in helping customers move towards Industry 4.0.

e-F@ctory is the Mitsubishi Electric solution for improving the performance of any manufacturing enterprise, providing three key benefits: reduced total cost of ownership, maximised productivity, and seamless integration. As part of the e-F@ctory Alliance, Mitsubishi Electric Europe joins forces with other partner companies that are recognised technology or market leaders in their respective industry. Together, the partners ensure that customers are always offered the best possible complete solution for their automation projects.

What is Industry 4.0?

Industry 1.0 began with the industrial revolution, which was followed in the early 1900s by Industry 2.0 – the rise of mass production. The third phase, Industry 3.0, started in the late 1960s with the introduction of computer-based manufacturing. This phase saw the introduction of programmable logic controllers (PLCs), the beginning of modern control and automation as we know it today.

According to industry experts, the future of manufacturing and the next step in our digital evolution is “Industry 4.0”. Introduced by the German Government as a way of promoting the computerisation of manufacturing, Industry 4.0 describes the next major step towards truly global manufacturing. Here, processes are no longer viewed as separate entities, but as one integrated “cyber-physical” system comprising of processors, sensors, software and communication technologies.

Smart solution

Since its launch in 2011, FAG SmartCheck has been continuously developed and has proved its effectiveness with customers. FAG SmartCheck is an extremely compact device that can be used to monitor vibration and temperature, as well as a range of other machine and process-specific parameters. By monitoring these parameters, users are provided with a broad basis of information in real time, which enables the accurate assessment of machine condition. Due to its self-learning (Teach-In) mode, the device’s alarm thresholds are adjusted automatically. After set up and commissioning, the unit operates autonomously. The relevant machine parameters are measured and saved continuously in the system, creating a substantial database of historical data over time.

FAG SmartCheck is one of a small number of solutions available in the market that is suitable for use as both an individual monitoring device for smaller redundant units, as well as for integrated concepts such as comprehensive condition monitoring of machines and manufacturing processes.

As part of the e-F@ctory Alliance, Schaeffler has not only found a partner that enables access to automation control units and process control systems, but that also pursues the same objectives for its customers – to reduce the overall costs of production and maintenance, as well as to increase productivity.

Comprehensive condition monitoring

Increasing energy costs requires manufacturers to implement lean production solutions that help to eliminate risk, reduce costs and better manage maintenance to minimise production downtime. Condition monitoring on the shop floor together with energy monitoring, for example, should therefore be integrated with Enterprise level systems. To optimise maintenance, there must be complete transparency throughout the enterprise, from shop floor to top floor.

In order to ensure that this level of transparency is achieved, the joint solution provided by the e-F@ctory partnership, combines the Mitsubishi Electric control unit with the FAG SmartCheck to form a pre-configured overall solution for the customer. This facilitates an automated link from the manufacturing level through to the control level.

Unlike alternative monitoring concepts that typically measure conventional values such as temperature, pressure and operating hours, FAG SmartCheck provides additional vibration-based parameters. In conjunction with the Mitsubishi control unit, it is therefore possible to develop a comprehensive solution for assessing the condition of a machine or system. The data can be sent via Ethernet (e.g. Ethernet TCP/IP protocols or web services) to other data receivers, such as the automation control units of other manufacturers or database-supported receivers, such as SCADA or Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES).

Experts from Schaeffler and Mitsubishi Electric provide support during project planning, including the defining of suitable measurement points and ensuring seamless integration to the customer's own systems (e.g. SAP and Oracle). The scalable monitoring system provides high system availability and contributes towards ensuring trouble-free, continuous operation. The overall system efficiency and energy efficiency are also very closely linked. Furthermore, the solution allows predictive maintenance to be carried out. This not only reduces lifecycle costs but also plays a role in reducing energy consumption thanks to its ability to detect early any signs of wear.

Success in a wastewater treatment plant

The sewage treatment plant in Rotenburg an der Fulda has treatment capacity for 34,000 residents and serves approximately 20,000 people. At the secondary sedimentation tank, three Archimedes pumps are connected to the return activated sludge pumping station. Within the space of 12 months, one of the three screw pumps failed due to a design fault. Due to bearing damage, the gear block was torn apart and replaced, which was costly and time-consuming.

To prevent similar problems occurring in the future, a condition monitoring system comprising a Mitsubishi control unit and three FAG SmartCheck devices was installed on the three pumps. The FAG SmartCheck devices measure the vibrations and temperature of the gearbox. In the event of changes in vibration, the system provides data at an early stage about these deviations, which can indicate initial signs of wear or damage. In the event of irregularities, a detailed error message is sent to the customer’s control system via the Mitsubishi control unit, which is integrated to the customers’ process. This ensures that the problem is identified and rectified quickly.


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