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Making sense of motors

16 December 2022

A new generation of sensors from ABB can now help to unlock cost-effective, predictive and condition-based monitoring for motors and motor-driven equipment.

Modern smart sensors are helping to unlock a new era of predictive maintenance and continuous condition monitoring for electric motors and powertrain devices. 

Typically no larger than a deck of playing cards, these devices can be attached directly to the motor chassis with no additional wiring required. 

Once installed, they can accurately transmit data measured directly from the motor, tracking parameters, including motor temperature, vibration, noise, energy consumption and bearing wear. This data can be used to improve efficiency, predict maintenance requirements, and enhance system resilience.

The sensors’ intelligence and accuracy provide unprecedented insight into the performance and condition of a motor that would otherwise require time-consuming manual inspection using expensive specialist equipment.

Smart sensors also open up vast possibilities for predictive maintenance by turning motors, which were historically “dumb” devices, into cloud-connected assets that can provide accurate and near-real-time insight into efficiency, performance and maintenance. 

Furthermore, rather than providing only a snapshot of a motor’s condition at a given point in time, smart sensors generate continuous data that can be accumulated and analysed in the cloud over days, weeks, months or even years to provide trend analysis from a single motor up to an entire fleet.

Hidden issues can be detected and investigated long before they became noticeable faults, therefore generating only minimal downtime when it comes to repairing or replacing motor equipment. 

Efficiency can also be monitored. For example, if a motor is oversized for its application, smart sensors will determine that from the data it collects, allowing steps to be taken to downsize and reduce energy costs. 

Such sensitivity also aids fault diagnostics because vast data sets can not only analyse persistent issues but provide clues as to their underlying causes, reducing time spent fault-finding. This, in turn, means that maintenance programs and their associated costs can be concentrated where they’re needed, i.e., first on heavily used assets that are prone to quicker wear, and later on assets that still need maintenance but are under less mechanical demand.

With the advent of smart sensors, motors that would previously require manual inspection and specialist tools can now be accessed and analysed at almost any time, from almost anywhere in the world. 

Alerts can be set to trigger when certain set points are reached to ensure that maintenance is timely, while trend data can be used to determine the optimal time to repair, replace or upgrade. This helps with life cycle management, allowing users to ensure that replacements are on-hand precisely when they are required, which can help to reduce the likelihood of production being affected by long lead times. 

To find out more about ABB Ability Condition Monitoring for motors and powertrains, click here

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