Automation IIoT Motors & Drives

Focus IIoT on Rotating Assets

EP Editorial Staff | September 1, 2021

Vibration and temperature sensors that monitor rotating equipment can play a significant role in advancing predictive-maintenance efforts.

Start digital transformation with sensors that continuously monitor vibration and temperature of rotating assets.

IIoT promises to reduce downtime, especially in the 24/7 industrial world. In most industrial verticals, downtime can be incredibly costly; about $20 billion in terms of lost revenue in process industries alone (Reducing Unplanned Downtime and Helping Future-proof Automation System Assets, Craig Resneck, ARC Advisory Group, August 5, 2016).

In general, anytime you have functioning legacy equipment that approaches 60 years old, there’s going to be a constant need for maintenance. If IIoT can eliminate the route-based inspections of that legacy equipment and bring about route prioritization, it can have a high value proposition for organizations.

IIoT also can augment the widening gap in the skilled-maintenance workforce that’s been created as skilled maintenance personnel retire. Above all else, the most important aspect we should value is safety, enhanced through IIoT analytics that provide better planning and a proactive approach to maintenance.

Equipment uptime has a direct impact on plant productivity and output. The age-old common practice of route-based vibration analysis can fail to provide sufficient early indication of problems because data is not collected continuously and not provided remotely or in real time.

An unplanned shutdown due to failure of improperly maintained assets, such as motors and rotating equipment, is among the highest risk and most expensive scenario an organization and its maintenance teams can endure. To curb this potential major economic loss, integrate a wide array of maintenance methods that include routine physical inspections and condition-based monitoring to spot equipment failure before it occurs.

Not One-Size-Fits-All

Motor vibration and temperature sensors continuously monitor the health of any rotating equipment and alert maintenance teams when anomalous behavior is detected. The early warnings of impending equipment failure they provide allow maintenance teams to proactively react instead of dealing with an unexpected failure.

IIoT products that can be quickly and affordably deployed to wirelessly monitor vibration are becoming attractive to reliability engineers and plant managers looking to either improve upon their existing route-based vibration analysis or begin a journey toward data-driven maintenance. On the other end of this spectrum, many high-end vibration-monitoring systems are designed to shut down processes immediately when a specific type of vibration event occurs in a designated frequency range. As a result, these systems need to continuously collect and process vibration and temperature data.

The decisions that go into digital transformation are always going to be complex and multifaceted. Because of that, if you don’t think through the ramifications of integration with your legacy equipment and your existing workforce, it likely will lead to worse results from an IIoT rollout than you might see if you lay the groundwork for network integration.

Many facilities have issues with downtime that’s costing their organization time and money. They don’t have a huge maintenance budget to counteract the losses that they’re seeing in equipment degradation or unexpected failure. Other facilities have invested so heavily in maintenance that they’ve effectively eliminated their downtime problems.

This, however, can be a suboptimal deployment of maintenance dollars because you’re spending more than is necessary to optimize downtime requirements. What we hope to see with IIoT technology is a balance that results in spending an optimal amount of maintenance dollars to reduce downtime to levels that result in profitable business function.

Seamless Integration Solutions

Rotating machinery is vital to the success of any industrial facility. When a critical pump, compressor, fan, generator, or similar asset fails, it can easily bring down an entire production line. A failure can even cause downtime for the whole facility. While rotating-equipment degradation will eventually manifest in increased audible noise, temperature, or current draw, these indicators are often preceded by an increase in vibration across a motor and its bearings. To maintain optimal performance, remote and continuous analysis is becoming prevalent.

The possibilities of IIoT digital transformation are boundless and daunting. Many facility managers who wish to begin their digital journey are challenged with how their existing equipment and systems can incorporate smart devices. This is where today’s low-cost, battery-powered solutions come into play.

Underlying IIoT technologies are ready for prime time now. Easy-to-deploy sensors are affordable and accessible. The wireless and network communication architectures have been built out to be robust in the industrial environment. Cloud hosting has become pervasive, affordable, and trusted. These three achievements alone can help organizations build robust and reliable IIoT solutions. EP

Information for this article was provided by SMEs at Grace Technologies, Davenport, IA ( The company specializes in electrical safety products and predictive-maintenance solutions.


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