A new method of continuously monitoring the status of machinery is a mobile tablet-based system that supplies information on the operational state of industrial machinery and plant equipment, and informs operators if a part needs to be replaced or if a repair can be postponed. The system uses sensors that continuously acquire data on parameters such as vibrational frequency or temperature.

A new method of continuously monitoring the status of machinery is being developed by Professor Andreas Schütze (left) and Nikolai Helwig of Saarland University. (Oliver Dietze)
By combing multiple sensors, the system can register even the smallest of changes that would not be detectable with a single sensor. The approach involves attaching vibration sensors at numerous positions on the machine to provide a continuous stream of measurement data. The engineers also incorporate data from the process sensors that are now installed as standard on most of today’s machines.

Information about the relationship between sensor signal patterns and incipient malfunction or damage is used to teach the system so that it will be able to identify these states automatically. By continuously monitoring the condition of the machine, the system can also recommend when to carry out particular remedial measures, such as replacing a spare part. The integrated network of sensors also monitors whether the sensors themselves are functioning properly.