One of the most pertinent advantages of Schaeffler’s OPTIME – a wireless, online condition monitoring solution – is that once it has been installed, no one has to visit the site to collect or monitor data, says Motion Australia’s condition monitoring expert, Mark Slaughter. 

“For industrial operations that require the regular monitoring of equipment, this system may be suitable because once it’s installed and running no one has to visit the site on a regular basis, it works remotely,” explains Mark, who is also Engineering Manager for Northern Territory and South Australia. “That’s a huge benefit, as what we’ve learned from recent years, is that it’s been difficult to get analysts out to sites to collect vibration data because of tight restrictions on external contractors.”

The OPTIME online system is designed for mass deployment, allowing for condition monitoring of multiple pieces of rotating equipment. The solution itself comprises three key parts, the sensors, a gateway, and the digital services, which enables users to view and interpret the data remotely. The sensors are wireless and battery-operated vibration and temperature sensors that can be attached to the surface or bearing housing of a rotating machine. They automatically connect to the gateway and other sensors through a Wirepas Mesh Network and are initially activated once off during install by a Near-Field-Communication (NFC) Tap process. 

“The gateway receives data from the sensors and then transmits this to the cloud, but one of the unique features of the solution is that it runs on an independent Mesh network, so it doesn’t interfere with other IT infrastructure,” says Mark. “This also means that the sensors can communicate with each other, acting as data points to the gateway. Effectively there can be hundreds of these data points – or sensors – in a plant, operating from up to 100 metres away from each point.”

Importantly, the OPTIME solution is designed with in-built algorithms that provide automated analysis of the data. This is available to users via the OPTIME app which can be opened on a smart device such as a phone or tablet. Users receive notifications if there are any issues with the equipment, affording them the time to pre-empt any failure rather than react to a breakdown.

“The point of online condition monitoring is not just to prevent catastrophic failure, but to get the maximum life out of the asset,” says Mark. “This tool gives us the ability to provide a full turnkey solution. Motion Australia can use the wireless vibration system to monitor an asset, identify a defect, and track the defect to a point where we have maximised its life, before supplying a new component, or re-commissioning the machine to continue its cycle.”

Another major advantage of the OPTIME offering is that it can be integrated with a smart lubricator as well. 

“This is a unique benefit of the Schaeffler solution – the wireless vibration sensors have surface temperature, and work via the same mesh network with the OPTIME-C1 smart lubricator, so that you received alarm notifications if the machine is running low on lubricant or has gone over pressure,” says Mark. “This can be done by using the same OPTIME dashboard, so a maintenance person doesn’t need to go around and check lubrication levels.”

The OPTIME-C1 solution can eliminate premature bearing failure caused by insufficient or incorrect lubrication, and therefore reduce machine breakdown. According to Schaeffler it can also cut lubricant waste by an estimated 30 per cent. 

For readers interested in learning about the OPTIME solution, Mark recommends getting in touch with your local Motion Australia branch.