ABB Customer World: Smart sensors, new platforms safeguard rotating machinery


HOUSTON -- Rotating equipment is the most common cause of downtime or reduced production in OGC plants. Monitoring the condition of that equipment is often performed manually by maintenance personnel, but this practice is expensive and often inefficient. ABB has recently presented ABB Ability, its platform for industrial IoT technologies. The focus of this new platform is to support customers with services and expertise by turning data insights into actionable intelligence that can be applied in the physical world. The company has also developed tools specifically for the oil and gas industry.

The foundation of this infrastructure is field-level data harvesting, in particular by enhancing existing equipment capabilities with smart sensors. In process industries, the most critical assets are the rotating equipment (e.g., electrical motors, pumps, compressors and fans).

ABB has developed a set of advanced sensors, the SmartSensor and the WiMon, specifically for rotating machinery. SmartSensor monitors the amount of energy flowing through a three-phase LV induction motor as well as the frame vibrations and the superficial temperature. The WiMon sensor measures the vibrations and temperature of the motor and load machine bearings.

Both sensors are suitable for operation in hazardous areas and take advantage of wireless communication to ensure easy and inexpensive installation. Using wireless HART, each sensor is always in communication with at least two others. Neighboring sensors function as relays for each other so that they can pass barriers like a steel wall, for example.

The data streams generated by the sensors are then collected by wireless gateways and analyzed locally. This approach has two advantages. It avoids streaming huge quantities of raw data to an external cloud environment, and it allows oil, gas and chemical operators to maintain critical information within the company IT infrastructure.

Within ABB Ability, the key component to connect field equipment, enable services and take advantage of ABB engineers’ expertise is an application called ServicePort.

ServicePort is a remote-enabled service delivery platform that allows users to view, scan and track important KPIs that affect equipment and process performance, and to take actions to improve site performance. ServicePort takes the expertise ABB has built over decades of equipment and process support and distills it into automatic, remote-enabled tools that can be deployed easily on a global basis.

By automatically collecting, analyzing and monitoring specific KPIs, ServicePort helps users make more informed decisions, resulting in improved availability, process efficiency and product quality, while reducing risk, raw material inputs and energy costs.

For rotating equipment, ServicePort has a dedicated section that takes advantage of the data collected from the field instrumentation such as the WiMon or SmartSensor. The KPIs generated for each machine cover different aspects of its health including process performance, electrical and mechanical condition, and the health and performance of its control system, instruments and actuators.

The entire fleet of monitored assets is displayed in a single dashboard and the potential threats for machine performance are aggregated into Process, Mechanical, Electrical and Control groups. This allows plant maintenance managers to investigate the issues related to their discipline without losing a holistic overview of machine status.

Another important aspect of this application is the focus on predictive maintenance. Instead of generating alarms when an asset fails, ServicePort generates reports with forecasts regarding the residual lifetime of each machine, including details about which component is likely to fail first. Maintenance personnel and ABB engineers can then take proactive steps to avoid catastrophic damage and loss of production.

When a ServicePort application is connected to the ABB Ability infrastructure, the plant engineers can also take advantage of the support and services of ABB’s global service centers. The engineers in the service centers monitor the status of each connected device, diagnosing upcoming issues and helping the plant engineers to define the best strategies for a smooth and profitable site operation. All the communication between the site and the remote service centers are managed so as not to impact the safe operation of the plant and to adhere to the latest cyber-security practices.

In a globally challenging market, the oil, gas and chemical industry is looking to IoT technologies to maintain a profitable and reliable operation. ABB Ability™ and ServicePort provide a platform to leverage intelligent field devices to better manage critical assets.

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