19 Jul 2024

Smart sensor solution for pumps

In partnership with Emile Egger, a Swiss producer of pumps, ABB has now developed its Ability Smart Sensor to remotely monitor pumps. Smart Machines & Factories reports.

ABB says its Ability Smart Sensor solution, developed in 2016, changed the maintenance logistics of motors by enabling the owners to detect problems early due to remote monitoring. This meant that maintenance work could be carried out preventively for the first time and, thus, downtime could be drastically reduced.

Michel Grimm, pump manufacturer Emile Egger’s chief business development officer and grandson of company founder Emile Egger, became aware of the ABB Ability Smart Sensor in early 2017: “Pumps, such as those in wastewater plants, usually fail without warning. In order to prevent typical problems such as blockages, it is necessary to undertake time-consuming maintenance several times a week.”

Egger considered that if smart sensors can monitor motors predictively, why shouldn’t they be able to provide the same valuable services for pumps? It then contacted ABB, which took up the challenge. The two companies decided jointly to develop a new smart sensor tailored to the specific needs of pumps.

The combined experience of the engineers and scientists of ABB and Egger quickly led to a solution. In less than a year, the sensor solution has been successfully developed. Using their reliable hardware, the motor sensors were adapted such that they now can also provide readout values on pump speed, overall vibrations, unbalance, cavitation (formation of vapour bubbles in fluids), and clogging. To achieve this, ABB used the scientific expertise of employees in Germany, India, the USA, and Switzerland. In return, Egger provided access to German and Swiss end customers, whose input helped to develop data analytics that meet the requirements.

The first tests were carried out at Egger’s test facilities in Cressier at the end of July 2017 and proved satisfactory. Meanwhile, ABB has delivered the first prototypes to enable testing in a real-world environment. In these pilot installations, the whole digital background of the ABB Ability Smart Sensor technology is used: health indicators and key performance indicators are not only gathered but also sent to the ABB Ability Cloud through a gateway. The pump operators can read the data via an app on their smartphone or in a browser. ABB and specialised partner companies will carry out further analyses in the cloud to detect tendencies and to be able to run cloud-based services in the future.