Data gathering becoming easier and more affordable

by Dan Malovany
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Cracker production line
Gathering data on a production line to see how the “engine is running” has gotten easier and more affordable.

Gathering data on a production line to see how the “engine is running” has gotten easier and more affordable, said Rowdy Brixey, president, Brixey Engineering, Strategies & Training.

“Today’s sensors no longer require hardwired circuits, long-cabling runs, conduits, or fighting the red tape associated with getting IT on-board,” he explained. “The modern sensor of today is also ‘smarter,’ and some are even capable of multi-tasking. Modern wireless sensors can measure vibration, acceleration, temperature, load, voltage, resistance, pH, humidity, conductivity and the list goes on.”

Likewise, the new lithium-ion battery life now makes sensors more reliable than ever. To measure vibration, attach pocket-size accelerometers on a surface near the oven unloader bar main drive assembly to count cycles and detect the level of movement. That vital data could allow maintenance personnel to provide preventive maintenance.

“Think of this like you would a car,” he said. “Instead of changing the oil every three months, you can now change the oil based on the number of miles driven. Even better, you could now ‘predict’ when to order the oil and filter so you no longer need to keep these consumables in stock.”

Mr. Brixey also recommended moving all potentially useful data to the cloud. Data specialists can then use existing algorithms or develop new ones to identify specific conditions that led to the major unplanned downtime event.

“The key is to start collecting it; with today’s technology, there is little excuse not to do this,” he said. 
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