Internet of Things delivers innovative remote services for drives maintenance planning

2017-05-18 - ABB is making increasing use of the Internet of Things (IoT) concept to deliver a range of competitive advantages for customers such as improving data analysis, boosting productivity and enhancing reliability.

In many industrial applications, such as pumps or fans which are powered by a drive/motor combination, it is the drive that actually controls the operation. Even in larger systems, where an automation system or PLC controls the drive, it can provide important indicators about the operation of the motor and the application.
The Remote Services program uses the information from ABB’s intelligent drives to provide the earliest possible indication of potential operational problems faster, helping operators to minimize costly breakdowns.

Initially there are two variations of the services - Remote Support and the more advanced Remote Condition Monitoring. Jaana Kivela, ABB’s product manager for Remote Services, explains how they were developed and are now being used.

Remote Support is reactive
“Remote Support is a reactive service. We only get involved when an operator has some concerns and actively asks us to check out the situation. This could be when a drive is sending a fault message. We collect data continuously from the drives covered, and as soon as there is a possible fault, the monitoring system starts sending greater amounts of data to facilitate more thorough analysis and faster problem resolution.”

“The service delivery only starts when the customer contacts us with a problem. This ensures that we don’t start working on something that isn’t actually a problem for them. For example, they could have been testing something in their system that caused the drive to send the alarm. This means that we are using our expert drives knowledge in a very targeted manner, and only when necessary.”

The fast response time means that the operator might avoid a breakdown altogether, or if there is an actual failure, the downtime will probably be much shorter. Because this service works remotely customers have peace of mind, knowing that no matter where the drive is located, they can tap into ABB’s expertise to solve their drive issues rapidly.

Remote Condition Monitoring is more proactive
Remote Condition Monitoring is a more comprehensive proactive service. ABB actively monitors the drives covered and uses deep experience of what is the ‘normal’ state of operation. ABB experts can make a good estimation of the condition of the device, and offer accurate maintenance recommendations. Also, as part of the service the experts are always looking out for early indications of possible faults.

“Ideally we want to spot problems before anything actually happens, to prevent breakdowns,” Jaana Kivela continues. “We do not guarantee we can do that 100 percent, but there is a good opportunity to spot issues in advance. This is true both for ABB and the operator. We provide the customer with a portal they can use to access this live data, to see how the drive is operating and to look its history.”

Success with first pilot in SSAB steel mill
The first pilot installation of the Remote Support service was carried out at the giant SSAB steel factory in Raahe on the west coast of Finland. It was only in the very early stages of the trial when it helped avoid a possible breakdown.

During the trial an alarm on the critical coke elevator operation was noticed by ABB personnel. Acting quickly, both remotely and on-site, the combined SSAB and ABB teams successfully worked together to avert what could have been a major problem. Ari Korkala, an electrical maintenance planner at the SSAB steel mill, explains the situation: “In the coking plant we have what is called the dry quenching stage where an elevator lifts a bucket of hot coke into the dry quenching chamber. The elevators are crucial and if there is a malfunction, the whole process stops since nothing can be lifted. In addition, the coke is very hot at about 1050˚ C, so that if it stops somewhere in between, it could cause a fire in the electrical rooms or elsewhere.”

If there is a malfunction in the coke elevator, the whole process stops since nothing can be lifted.

Now being introduced on wider scale
In addition to SSAB, numerous other pilot trials were carried out in applications as diverse as mining, automotive and shipping. So far Remote Services have shown significant potential to be widely adopted throughout industry, not just in highly critical operations but eventually on all drives.

By using drive data in this manner, facilitated by the IoT, users and industrial operations can obtain a wide variety of new benefits by accessing information that is already available. Among these benefits are fast fault notification, rapid response and analysis by ABB specialists and, most importantly, an opportunity to reduce unplanned downtime and the major costs associated with breakdowns.

About ABB
ABB (ABBN: SIX Swiss Ex) is a pioneering technology leader in electrification products, robotics and motion, industrial automation and power grids, serving customers in utilities, industry and transport & infrastructure globally. Continuing more than a 125-year history of innovation, ABB today is writing the future of industrial digitalization and driving the Energy and Fourth Industrial Revolutions. ABB operates in more than 100 countries with about 132,000 employees.

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