Sensor technologies

Take care of critical machine parts with sensor technologies

Critical parts refer to all machine components, including cables, whose failure can lead to a problem situation. Sensors are essential for managing and protecting critical machine components.

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What are critical machine parts?

Critical machine parts are components that, if they malfunction or become defective, have a disastrous effect on machine performance or compromise end-user safety.

As a result, key components are often subject to extensive quality frameworks, and many industries have market-specific criteria aimed at ensuring that devices and applications operate efficiently while simultaneously maximizing user or customer safety.

Manufacturers of critical components must consistently deliver highly accurate components that adhere to industry-specific rules, which has often been linked to high production cost and long lead times. Identifying the optimum qualities of important parts is essential to choosing the best materials for a specific application.

High temperature components will almost certainly need a different material than those that require some degree of flexibility or resistance to breaking. Engineers can easily discover the material or group of materials that will produce the ideal component for an application by specifying the exact pressures, stresses, or characteristics required of the part.

The landing gear is an example of a critical part of aircraft in the aviation sector. In turbines, the blades used are the most vital parts. Generally speaking, motors, power supply, fuses, circuit breakers, connectors and batteries are all considered to be important parts of the machine, where failure leads to the overall malfunction of the machine.

Using sensors to monitor and protect critical machine parts

Sensors are used in the industrial sector to analyze the performance of complex components and critical machine parts, collecting data to establish typical operating parameters while also detecting the smallest variations in that performance.

This data can then be used to enable more efficient and appropriate predictive maintenance, avoid downtime and keep equipment running. Some examples of sensors used to monitor and protect critical parts of machinery are shown below.

Temperature is one of the most reliable indications of a machine’s performance. In general, equipment should operate at a constant temperature, with cooling devices (such as coolant, ventilation, or fluid) in place to ensure consistency.

Temperature sensors are used to monitor temperature changes in machine parts. They detect sudden, uncontrollable temperature changes or increases and indicate if something in a critical part of the machinery is not operating at peak efficiency.

MEMS sensors are a kind of motion detector that allows activity and efficiency tracking with almost any type of moving part. One of the most popular applications for these sensors is in car airbags, where they can significantly increase safety when combined with the ability to transmit a signal upon activation.

Triaxial accelerometer sensors are used to detect vibration on rotating machinery and provide data on speed, force and motion. This data is important in determining the consistency of vibration highs and lows of critical parts. If vibration occurs predictably, it is reasonable to assume that the machine is operating normally. If there are any variations or deviations from a constant vibration reading, this almost usually indicates that the machine is not working properly and that a thorough examination (and repair) is needed.

Vibration sensors to detect failures of critical machine parts

Insulators, cooling systems, compressors, motors, pumps, valves and actuators often indicate that they are faulty and likely to malfunction. When a fan is out of balance or the bearings fail, the fan begins to vibrate excessively. Although this offset is imperceptible to the human eye or ear, a vibration sensor can easily detect it.

A remote monitoring system, such as the Sensaphone Sentinel, uses sensors to detect abnormal vibrations. They identify damage early on, allowing preventive measures to be taken and avoiding a complete breakdown. A Sensaphone vibration sensor monitors the rate of oscillation (i.e. the intensity of movement) of a machine over the frequency range of 0 to 25 mm/s (RMS). A 4mA output is equivalent to 0mm/sec (i.e. no vibration), while a 20mA output is equivalent to 25mm/sec (high vibration).

Radar sensor solution for wear monitoring of critical machine parts

Ondosense’s IoT radar sensor continuously checks the wear of critical machine components in combined heat and power plants. The sensor system monitors the wear of crucial components during operation.

OndoSense sensor software algorithms can monitor the status of critical mechanical parts and system status in real time. This enables advanced predictive cycle planning, ensuring the operator only performs maintenance when essential.

The consequence of the predictive maintenance solution is a reduction of up to 60% in maintenance expenses and a reduction in downtime and operational costs. Simultaneously, the plant’s energy production increases rapidly.

Benefits of using sensors to monitor critical machine parts

The sensors act as an early warning system when a critical part of a machine’s product is faulty. By issuing an alarm as soon as they notice unusual behavior, they help solve problems before they become serious.

The sensors also reduce downtime and increase machine productivity by detecting faults and providing real-time information about critical machine components.

Continue reading: The world’s first self-installed condition monitoring technology

References and further reading

Correa, JC and Guzman, AA (2020). Fundamentals of mechanical vibrations. In Mechanical vibration and condition monitoring (pp. 1-26). Academic press. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-819796-7.00001-9

Ondosense. (2022). Save 60% on maintenance costs with predictive maintenance. Available at: https://ondosense.com/en/applications/predictive-maintenance-energy-industry/.

Sensaphone. (2016). Vibration sensors alert you when critical machine parts fail. Available at: https://blog.sensaphone.com/vibration-sensors-provide-early-warning-of-critical-machine-part-failures.

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