Sensors have been making their way into manufacturing facilities for some time now. These small, high-tech devices offer manufacturers a new way to see exactly how their facility is running and reporting any issues in real-time. Integrating sensors into manufacturing equipment and machinery lets manufacturers foresee potential breakdowns and make repairs before unscheduled downtime wreaks havoc on their business.
Many manufacturers are looking to upgrade their facilities to include these valuable sensors, but it doesn’t come cheap. New equipment can cost tens of thousands of dollars and the sensors in new machinery can drive the price up even higher.
But now, there could be a better option.
A team of engineers from Saarland University are developing ‘smart’ electric motor systems that will function without the need for additional sensors. Not only will they function, these new motors will essentially be transformed into a sensor itself. A motor with the ability to monitor itself along with the overall performance of the equipment is a truly innovative leap forward for manufacturing technology.
Another enormous benefit of these ‘smart’ motors is their ability to interact and communicate with other motors on the shop floor. This will essentially serve the same function as stand-alone sensors connected though Industrial Internet of Things services. Machine to machine communication is vital for a smart facility to function properly. If there is a problem with a particular piece of equipment, before anyone has the chance to intervene, the motor that has an issue can call to another piece of equipment to help pick up its slack.
Furthermore, upgrading legacy equipment could be much simpler with this new ‘smart’ motor. Instead of needing to outfit an older machine with a host of sensors and hoping that they all work and will connect to the cloud or server you wish to upload the data to, a single electric motor may be the only thing that needs to be upgraded. This could be a driving force to get more manufacturers on board with the industrial revolution that’s happening all around us. Many manufacturers don’t have the means to upgrade all of their equipment at one time, but switching out old electric motors is much more manageable.
The way data is gathered from the motor will be by carefully monitoring the precise distribution of the magnetic field strength in the motor. The researchers record how the magnetic field changes when the motor rotates. From this data, the researchers can infer how the motor is running. For now, the researchers are looking at different methodologies to determine which methods are best suited to gather data from the motor.
No word yet on when this technology will be available to consumers, but manufacturers are waiting in suspense. The insights would be invaluable and the ability to reduce the amount of sensors lessens the chance of failures while also making it much more manageable for manufacturers to upgrade their machinery and equipment. The technology is impressive and the implications could be far-reaching. We are excited to see how these motors will perform and if manufacturers are willing to embrace this incredible technology. Remember, if your business uses machinery, it is important to use industrial chillers to avoid overheating and failing, or worse causing injury in the workplace. Make sure sure you invest in safety equipment such as this as well as innovative time-saving devices as described in this article.