25 Jun 2024

Wireless condition monitoring sensors

OPTIME sensors on an agitator gearbox.

Schaeffler has reported its OPTIME wireless condition monitoring solution is saving a leading food and biochemicals plant in South East Asia 30,000 euros per year by preventing unplanned machine downtime on a variety of rotating equipment. The plant benefits from the early detection of equipment failures, as well as more precise trend data and increased reliability of the monitoring solutions.

With its diverse markets and customers, the food and biochemicals company must always ensure that its machines run smoothly, therefore the company has been using Schaeffler’s offline and online monitoring solutions for its most critical machines. However, in searching for a comprehensive condition monitoring solution, the plant’s maintenance team decided on the OPTIME wireless condition monitoring solution, which met their increasingly demanding applications.

Sustainable products such as bioplastics are becoming increasingly important. At the biochemical plant, complex fermentation processes are carried out to produce derivative acid (e.g. lactic acid) which customers use in a variety of ways such as a food additive for bakeries, breweries and confectionery products, as well as for biodegradable packaging. During the production process, the machines are subjected to extreme stress, therefore production throughput must be optimised in order to avoid unplanned machine downtime.

The expansion of the plant in recent years presented a new challenge for maintenance – loose meshing of the machine gears. This meant tremendous stress on the gears and resulted in accelerated wear and tear and a risk of incorrect lubrication. Therefore, the maintenance management team turned to Schaeffler for a comprehensive solution.

Working together with the customer and understanding the demanding needs of the application, Schaeffler’s experts recommended OPTIME, an easily scalable wireless condition monitoring solution consisting of wireless sensors, a gateway and digital services based on proprietary Schaeffler algorithms. The gateway receives data from the sensors and transfer it to the Schaeffler cloud. OPTIME automatically detects any problems, issues the appropriate alarms and provides information on the possible cause of the problem. Condition monitoring expertise on the part of the customer is not required as this knowledge is already fully integrated into OPTIME.

A total of 50 OPTIME sensors were installed on a variety of pumps and gearboxes, as well as cooling tower fans and refrigeration compressors. With this solution, the majority of machines (157 pieces of equipment in total) are continuously monitored online.

Within a year of usage, OPTIME had detected a total of 17 faults, including five serious ones. The savings of 30,000 euros were calculated based on the prevention of six days (144 hours) of unplanned downtime per year. Coupled with Schaeffler’s wired condition monitoring solution, SmartCheck, and offline measuring system, a comprehensive monitoring solution has been implemented at the plant.

An application engineer at the biochemical plant commented: “We’ve been using condition monitoring solutions from Schaeffler for years. Each solution provides us with the protection we need for our machines. SmartCheck is used for individual critical units and has saved us from some unplanned downtime. OPTIME enables us to implement comprehensive monitoring in our plant.”

OPTIME is part of the Schaeffler Lifetime Solutions portfolio, which offers a comprehensive range of products, services and solutions for industrial maintenance. It is designed to support maintenance engineers over the entire lifetime of a machine.

Company info: Schaeffler Group