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EETE APR 2015

Connected sensors Sensor data predict failure of large machines By Christoph Hammerschmidt Long before they actually fail, large machines exhibit signs of wear and tear. A team of researchers from the Saarland University (Saarbrücken, Germany) is now devising new ways to precisely identify the parts that need to be replaced soon - by means of sensor fusion techniques. The research team led by Andreas Schütze monitors continuously the status of the machinery. When bearings or other mechanic and electric components are starting to wear out, the characteristics of their operational parameters starts to change - frequencies, spectral composition of the vibrations as well as temperatures start to deviate from their values in normal operation. The system currently under development by the researchers from Saarbrücken interrelates the measurements from various sensors and thus can detect even minuscule variations. “Our sensor system allows us to observe the current condition of a plant“, explains Schütze. “We are working on getting the system to issue very early warnings at the first sign that the plant may fail or malfunction. By combining multiple sensors we are able to register even the minor deviations – changes that would simply not be detectable with a single sensor, clarifies Andreas Schütze. The team’s approach involves attaching vibration sensors at numerous positions on the machine to provide a continuous stream of measurement data. The engineers also incorporate data from the process sensors that are now installed as standard on most of today’s machines. “We are studying how we can correlate sensor signal patterns, such as vibrational frequencies, with typical damage and failure modes, such as reduced cooling performance or a drop in accumulator pressure”, explains Schütze. To do this, the researchers have been analysing large quantities of measurement data in order to identify those patterns in the data that can be assigned to particular changes in the machine’s state. From the mass of data acquired the researchers filter out a manageable quantity of relevant sensor data that is characteristic of certain machine damage scenarios. The aim is to reliably detect disturbances in the machine’s operating cycle during the incipient damage phase and to devise mathema tical models for different fault levels. This information about the relationship between sensor signal patterns and incipient malfunction or damage is used by the engineers to “teach” the system to enable it to identify these states automatically. Through continuously monitoring the machine’s condition, the system can also recommend when to carry out particular remedial measures, such as replacing a part. According to Schütze, this makes it easier to plan maintenance operations on large or difficult-to-access plant machinery. It also helps to avoid unnecessary maintenance. “As the system is also capable of analysing whether production machinery was operating properly during a manufacturing process, it can also be used for quality control purposes. There are a large number of potential applications of this system, particular in the smart manufacturing processes envisaged under Industry 4.0”, the researcher says. Printed NFC for context-aware gameplay EBy Julien Happich uropean companies Cartamundi, Van Genechten Packaging, PragmatIC, SMARTRAC, TNO and imec have joined forces to launch PING (Printed Intelligent NFC Game cards and packaging), a consortium to bring flexible electronics from the lab to mainstream markets through the creation of smart and interactive printed objects. Inspired and supported by the Horizon 2020 program of the European Commission, the overall goal of the PING consortium is the creation of a platform that enables and facilitates the production of smart printed objects based on new technologies. In effect, flexible thin-film electronics and NFC-capable printed materials such as cards, stickers and packaging could branch out the IoT functionalization of objects and enable new user interactions. The collaboration intends to establish, within 3 years, a standardized low cost and high volume manufacturing flow for embedding wireless identification and power transfer technology into printed objects and printable substrates such as paper, cardboard or plastic. The process will enable the identification and interaction of printed objects through standard NFC and RFID reading devices such as smartphones. The project will also explore the integration of additional features such as sensors, displays and sound, not only adding internet connectivity to card and board games, but context-aware gameplay. Imec and TNO will focus on the development of a flexible thin-film technology and chip design. PragmatIC will work with imec and TNO to align developed designs with its own mass manufacturing processes, transferring future generation NFC chips into commercial production. SMARTRAC will contribute its expertise in antenna design and printing technologies with a special focus on the connection interface between the printed antenna and TFT electronics. Cartamundi and Van Genechten Packaging will perform the last step of the supply chain: embedding the electronics in printed products. Cartamundi, TNO and imec already started working together to establish the knowledge platform for integrated circuit (IC) design in thin-film technologies, targeting NFC chip as a minimum viable product demonstrator. 6 Electronic Engineering Times Europe April 2015 www.electronics-eetimes.com


EETE APR 2015
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