Wireless telemetry used to monitor hard-to-reach machinery

Nicola Brittain

Wireless telemetry is an excellent way of managing and maintaining difficult-to-reach infrastructure.

Ensuring that maintenance happens at the right time and with minimal disruption is key for many industrial engineers. Unplanned downtime can eat into profit margins and sectors such as food, wholesale or textiles, where margins are already low, need to ensure that they either preempt disruption, or tackle the problem as soon as it occurs. In fact, according to figures cited by Deloitte, unscheduled downtime costs the global manufacturing industries approximately US$50bn per year. As such, identifying and fixing potential problems early will help manufacturers remain productive and competitive.

Several types of automated technology can help with maintenance, and these are normally grouped under the umbrella term ‘computerised maintenance management systems’.  These increasingly make use of IOT sensors, combined, in the case of wireless telemetry systems with radio waves.

A wireless telemetry system is one that enables the remote measurement and transmission of data between locations without physical wired connections. Component parts typically include sensors, transducers, instrumentation, communication modules, transmitters, displays, and printers. The IoT sensors, which can be retrofitted to machinery, measure temperature, pressure, humidity tension and vibration. Dramatic changes to these parameters are normally indicative of a problem that needs to be tackled right away.

Load cells are commonly used with wireless telemetry systems to measure and transmit data about the force or weight applied to an object. The load cell converts the force exerted on it into an electrical signal, which can then be wirelessly transmitted to a remote monitoring system.

At the receiving end of the telemetry system, another wireless communication module receives the data from the load cell’s transmitter. Once the data is processed, it can be analysed, logged, and displayed on a user interface, such as a computer dashboard or a mobile app.

Monitoring platform

A recent cloud based monitoring platform from wireless telemetry specialist Mantracourt, called SensorSpace, promises to help manufacturers easily implement preventative maintenance programmes.

Such a programme allows operators and engineers can monitor ongoing system conditions and proactively carry out maintenance when parts begin to fail. While machine breakdowns are an accepted part of factory life, a preventative programme dramatically reduces their occurrences.

Installing a wireless telemetry system with 24/7 monitoring capabilities can help provide the operational insight needed to make effective maintenance decisions since it will monitor key parameters such as temperature, pressure, humidity, tension and vibration.

Dramatic changes in any of these parameters are usually indicative of a problem and spotting them right away will help to ensure operations run smoothly.