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Case Studies

vbOnline™ condition monitoring system set to challenge market

Everyone agrees that remote access to predictive maintenance systems can conveniently increase plant machinery uptime, and increase overall businesses profitability. So why then are only 37% of condition-based monitoring systems connected online?
With ever tightening manufacturing processes and costly time-based maintenance programs, ensuring the functional reliability of critical plant and equipment is a considerable responsibility.
Used as part of a predictive maintenance program, online condition-based monitoring systems can provide increased convenience, and help reduce lost production and overall cost of maintenance.
Until now the required investment for these systems has been out of the reach of many. This is about to change with the launch of Commtest's new vbOnline™ system.

Improved benefits-to-cost ratio
The results of a recent report of Condition Monitoring Systems presented at the 2004 Engineering Systems Design and Analysis (ESDA) Conference held in Manchester, UK show that the majority of respondents cited both reducing the number of unscheduled breakdowns and saving money as their primary reasons for implementing condition-based monitoring. Yet, interestingly, the report also found that 63% of condition-based monitoring systems are still not connected online.

John Cochrane, General Manager of Commtest, expects that awareness of improved benefits-to-cost ratio will increase interest in online monitoring systems. He explains that 'competition, cheaper components and better design are driving down the cost of online systems considerably – by as much as two thirds - which makes justifying the investment to management a whole lot easier.'
vbonline"Keeping a machine or an entire plant operating 24/7 at optimum efficiency and in good working order is an exacting responsibility. Maintenance engineers in particular have to pay acute attention to machinery condition to prevent costly unscheduled production downtime. Increased implementation of predictive maintenance systems industry wide reflects this," says Mr Cochrane.
Commtest specialises in developing affordable and easy to use vibration analysis solutions including the increasingly popular VB series of products. The company, founded in Christchurch, New Zealand 11 years ago, has invested heavily in developing online and remote vibration measurement and analysis equipment, and is launching a new surveillance system called vbOnline™.
It is a flexible modular online monitoring system that has been designed to monitor both single and multi machine applications, and integrate seamlessly with existing DCS and SCADA systems.
Other advantages include peace of mind, knowing that machines are being monitored 24/7, and the ability to have anywhere, anytime access to operating data. The vbOnline™ surveillance system will also help to avoid those hidden and unrealised problems that can occur with time-based maintenance programs.

Trialling 24/7 Online Vibration Analysis at a Pulp and Paper Mill
Commtest specifically designed the vbOnline™ vibration analysis solution to be effective and easy to use, quick to install, and cost a fraction of the price of more established systems on the market.
The system, which has taken the company 18 months to develop, is currently being trialled at a large pulp and paper mill by condition monitoring technician, Milan Kraynik, who has prior experience of online systems.
Since March 2004 the plant has been using vbOnline™ to monitor the condition of its paper machine. Twelve sensor points, normally monitored by portable CSI condition monitoring equipment, were permanently connected to one side of the paper machine. The mill decided to trial vbOnline™ on these twelve points.
Mr Kraynik explained, "The system was very quick and easy to fit, taking only a day and a half to complete. With Windows look and feel vbOnline™ is very user-friendly to operate. Online condition monitoring systems are definitely the way to go, as the maintenance potential is tremendous."
"The trial is going very well for us. From the minute vbOnline™ was up and running we were alerted that we had two bearings on the machine that were failing. The system enabled us to monitor their condition for three months before we decided that they needed replacing," he said.
"Considering the simplicity of using the software and the quality of the data that we get from it, I think that vbOnline™ is excellent value. Unlike some of the larger companies who are more reluctant to make any product modifications required, Commtest sees the potential of an idea and will implement it into their software. Although vbOnline™ is apparently designed for the low to mid-range market, I believe it ranks very well against some of the more familiar brands, as Commtest has not compromised on quality," surmised Mr Kraynik.

vbOnline™ Enhances Predictive Maintenance
Online condition monitoring systems provide the convenience of not having to walk around the entire plant collecting data from a multitude of sensor points on machinery. They also deliver considerable data quality and health and safety benefits.
As part of a predictive maintenance system multiple sensors are fitted to various areas of machinery - often in difficult to access and potentially dangerous areas. Monitoring these areas manually can be a health and safety hazard and can be avoided using an online surveillance system.
vbOnline™ uses 16 or 32 compact channel modules to provide a flexible, expandable and tailor-made solution for most requirements. Each module utilises Ethernet (wired or wireless) connection to transfer the data to the host computer. For difficult to access areas, vbOnline™ wireless capability is ideal; it works using any commercially available wireless bridge to connect each module attached onto the machine straight into the plant's Ethernet.
"Growing popularity of wireless technology is bringing the cost down to a level that negates the need for lengthy sensor cables to transfer the data collected direct into the plant's Ethernet system," explains Mr Cochrane.
Once fully installed the value of data is quickly apparent. vbOnline™ automatically evaluates data collected during the pre-set time parameters and immediately notifies the operator when potential problems arise.
Temperature, pressure, flow and load are samples of engineering process values that are collected as AC and DC voltage (+/- 20V) or as 4-20mA inputs. The analogue measurements allow the monitoring of process data that, when collected, can be alarmed and trended.

Advanced Online Intelligence
Commtest's vbOnline™ is complemented with ascent® vibration analysis software that provides an instant view of the current plant status together with visual notification of alarm levels.
The diagnostic capabilities of the software are sufficient for most requirements including: time waveforms, FFT, overall vibration values, bearing demodulation, phase, speed, interactive charting and more. A powerful in-built SQL/HTML based reporting engine also allows users to design and customise their own reporting options. Standard reporting options include status of machines in database, most recent vibration level and percentage change. vbOnline™ also comes with an online manager and a web browser application. The online manager is the brain of the system that is responsible for both managing data collection in accordance with the schedules specified within ascent®, and replicating it to the network database. While the web browser application allows users to browse the collected conditioning monitoring data via a LAN, WAN or the Internet.
Configuring an online condition monitoring system, such as Commtest's vbOnline™ vibration analysis system, is very easy. It also enables maintenance engineers to collect essential machine operating data more cost-effectively, efficiently and in greater frequency that monitoring with a portable instrument.

Request more information or visit our Commtest Products Page

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