By Jeremy Frank
Vibration technicians have a difficult job. They’re asked to predict the future by catching problems in machinery before they break down. And the tools they use today can only do so much.
In fact, we identified three blind spots in every factory where vibe techs have the most trouble and until we give them better tools, machines will continue to break down when we’re not expecting them to.
The first of those blind spots, we call “The Bad Actor.” This is the machine that can break down at any time – sometimes it happens in less than a day’s notice. This is a huge problem for vibe techs because they can only check a machine so many times and the bad actor can fail in between those checks, causing you halt everything so you can fix the machine.
For example, paper mills are full of potential bad actors. The pumps in the mills are tasked with pushing vast amounts of pulp around and often clog – at which point the whole factory is shut down while a worker unclogs it. With constant monitoring, workers can keep the pump working but constant monitoring is nearly impossible. There are only so many hours in a day that a vibe tech can monitor one pump.
To remedy this, KCF recently worked with one mill to install wireless sensors that monitored vibration and temperature every 10 minutes. All the vibe tech had to do was check his computer to ensure everything was running smooth. And when a clog did begin to form, it was easy to catch because the sensors showed a dramatic increase in vibration. When that happened, the vibe tech informed factory management and the mass was cleared 36 hours before it had a chance to shut down the factory – ultimately saving more than $30,000 per hour in lost productivity.
What kinds of bad actors do you have in your factory? And what tools are you using to predict failures before they occur?
KCF Technologies is an engineering company founded in 2000 and based in Central Pennsylvania. Its latest breakthrough is a wireless sensor system that notifies you when a machine is going to fail before it actually does. It’s called SmartDiagnostics. Organizations taking advantage of this new technology are seeing significant improvements in safety, uptime and profitability.