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Condition monitoring of machine tools with retrofit sensors

4 minutes Reading time
4 minutes Reading time

Machines play a central role in the automotive industry. An easy-to-install solution for digital condition monitoring enables them to recognize and react to changing operating conditions. The system increases productivity with intelligent sensors and the Industrial IoT.

The challenge: Monitoring machine tools to detect malfunctions and failures at an early stage

A car parts manufacturer in Portugal was faced with the task of improving the monitoring of its numerous machine tools. A practical digital solution for this is Condition Monitoring. This refers to the regular monitoring of the machine’s condition by measuring certain values such as vibrations, temperature or humidity on machine parts.

Most machine tools are very durable and are used for many years. These older machines are usually not able to send data to the Industrial IoT as they do not have internal sensors. What is needed is a retrofit solution that works without any problems on machines of any age. The retrofit must be easy to install and meet some additional requirements.

Furthermore, it is very challenging to lay additional Ethernet cables in a machining production facility in order to reach all machines. The cables would need to be installed on the ceiling, as the floor is often oily and greasy. This is one of the reasons why wireless technology was chosen.

At the same time, it must be possible to retrofit the machines during operation, as the manufacturer wanted to avoid disruptions as far as possible for economic reasons. These requirements are met by Schildknecht AG’s DATAEAGLE system, which was introduced at the manufacturer by the IIoT company – and partner of Schildknecht AG – IndustrialSYS.

The solution: Condition monitoring with retrofit sensors and IIoT gateway

Each machine tool in a block of 12 is equipped with four sensors, which are connected by cable to a DATAEAGLE-Xtreme IO sensor hub. They send their data to the DATAEAGLE 2730 IoT Gateway, which simultaneously processes data from up to eight sensor hubs. That is why there are two of these gateways per block.

The connection between the hub and gateway is established using BLE data radio (Bluetooth Low Energy 4.2). The use of wireless sensors is also possible, in this case, the gateway has the appropriate capabilities for Bluetooth reception. Users are free to choose the type of sensors they wish to use; the system is independent of any particular sensor technology.

There are numerous options for forwarding data from the gateway to an industrial PC. The standards supported include Modbus TCP, Profinet, EtherCAT and Ethernet Powerlink. It also has an interface for a globally usable eSIM, which can be used to establish an Internet connection via mobile communications. This also covers all cases where a company’s internal network cannot be used.

The gateway itself takes over some tasks in the pre-processing of the data. Critical values are detected here and sent as an alarm message to an industrial control system via a fieldbus connection. The data is then sent to the cloud. There they are available in the DATAEAGLE portal for further processing.

The system’s cloud portal offers a customizable dashboard so that operators have an overview of the incoming sensor data. The portal also offers the option of configuring the sensors. Different intervals for transferring sensor data to the cloud or defining alarms for individual sensors are possible.

The result: Continuous condition monitoring and an increase in overall efficiency

The DATAEAGLE CMS (Condition Monitoring System) monitors the functional reliability of a car parts manufacturer’s machine tools. The CMS has been positively received by the company due to its quick and easy installation and commissioning. It is a complete system that can be installed and put into operation within a few hours. The CMS has helped the car parts manufacturer in Portugal to secure daily deliveries and meet promised delivery dates precisely.

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