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Predictive Maintenance in Action: How an Innovative IoT Solution Helped a National Glass Manufacturer Avoid Unplanned Downtime.

If you need evidence of digital transformation’s real-world value and return-on-investment potential, look no further than a recent occurrence at a nationwide glass manufacturer’s tempering facility.  As a facility with world-class preventative maintenance practices, including regular vibration routes, they were monitoring things closely. However, they recognized IoT could increase visibility, ensure early warning protection, and enable higher equipment availability.

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Vibration signatures indicating imminent failures were detected in the facility’s quench fans during the recent implementation of a sensor-based IoT solution that monitors machinery health. By catching the imminent failure before an incident occurred, the company was able to proactively address the issue and avoid unwanted downtime.

How was this possible? Through WISDOM.

Identifying problems before they occur
WISDOM is an Internet of Things solution for predictive maintenance – a result of a relationship between FLANDERS and relayr, along with technology partners SpaceSense and Nanoprecise.

Using sensors to monitor equipment health and performance, WISDOM alerts personnel to fluctuations outside of acceptable parameters established using a combination of AI and human interaction. Anomalies and irregularities detected outside normal parameters can signal the need for equipment maintenance or repair before a costly incident occurs.

“We saw how the rotating equipment industry was changing, and we knew that an innovative solution like WISDOM is the answer to our customers’ biggest challenge – preventing equipment damage and unplanned downtime,” said John Oliver, CEO at FLANDERS. “Relayr’s unique combination of IoT technology and insurance, coupled with our domain knowledge in the rotating equipment space, enables us to drive value for users of our machines in unmatched ways.”

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Guneet Bedi, Senior Vice President and General Manager at relayr, added: “This proof of success solidifies our vision to enable industrial companies to stay relevant with real-life savings and financial impact. Relayr’s technology-agnostic approach lets us fully understand the nature of our partners’ business and work together to bring solutions that drive real results.”

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WISDOM shows its power
The system in the glass tempering facility identified high vibrations in a large oven conveyer within just days of installation and commission. The sensors installed in the quench fans detected vibration levels exceeding normal values. WISDOM notified personnel at the glass tempering facility of the issue, and they were able to react quickly to shut down the machinery and investigate.

A service technician dispatched to the facility found cracks propagating in the fan hub and blades of the machine. The hub was removed, repaired, and balanced in just two days.

While initial post-repair assessments showed vibration levels back within acceptable tolerances, the glass manufacturer was concerned about the likelihood of metal fatigue being the root cause of the cracking and ordered a replacement hub. These concerns were soon proven justified.

Vibration levels spiked again nearly three weeks later, with subsequent inspections revealing new cracks in the equipment. The fan hub was repaired on-site.

These fans were previously monitored with traditional vibration routes before the predictive maintenance system was installed. It’s important to note how quickly these problems developed – standard route-based maintenance would not have caught the initial problem or the rapid degradation after the first repair due to infrequent route scheduling.  WISDOM takes the facility’s predictive maintenance practices to a new level, which has already saved unplanned downtime and allowed for the pre-planning of needed parts.

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