Setting up transparent condition monitoring for electric drives is usually quite time-consuming. In addition, the secure connection through the local network often poses a hurdle. New solutions now make it possible to monitor frequency converters easily via mobile communications in the cloud or to establish a direct connection to experts via an app. This avoids longer downtimes and ensures high productivity.
Maintenance engineers and machine builders face numerous challenges when monitoring the condition of drive systems when it comes to preventing system downtimes and ensuring the required availability. Maintenance staff are asking themselves, for example, how they can best protect drive systems and gain more insight into the application in order to prevent failures or shorten the troubleshooting time. Machine builders are faced with the challenge of how they can differentiate themselves on the market with "smart machines" and integrate condition monitoring for drive technology into their digital offer or their cloud structure. Ease of commissioning and an efficient response in the event of support are further points that are important to you.
There are basically two options for monitoring drive systems. One is an ongoing, proactive approach. This is offset by case-based, reactive access, in which modern app and cellular technology can be used in order to be able to react quickly in the event of a fault or failure. Modern solutions are now available for both with the ABB Drive Connectivity Panel and the Remote Service ABB Ability Mobile Connect.
Use expert know-how everywhere
If a frequency converter fails, the customer needs support as quickly as possible. Frequently, only a few parameter changes have to be made on the device or a manual action has to be carried out in order to rectify the fault. ABB Ability Mobile Connect offers simple remote support for frequency converters.
With this remote service, the customer receives ad hoc support via a mobile phone and the Drivetune app. If a frequency converter fails, he contacts ABB support by phone or email. An employee then sends him a case number. After entering it in ABB Ability Mobile Connect, the customer can transmit the frequency converter information via cellular network or WLAN. The ABB employee sees the parameters and sends suggestions for changes. The customer has full control over the changes on site and can accept or reject them if, for example, he sees the system security at risk.
ABB Ability Mobile Connect is implemented using a smartphone via a Bluetooth connection with the Bluetooth panel of a compatible ABB frequency converter. In addition to parameter changes, voice messages as well as images, videos and backup and support packages can also be transmitted. Furthermore, manuals can be viewed and the frequency converter-specific change history and events can be viewed.
The new remote service is interesting for a wide range of industries. In addition to the process and food industry, steelworks as well as the water and wastewater sector are possible fields of application. Partners and OEMs can also purchase the tool from ABB and use it to provide support.
Insight into drive data
Another new solution, the ABB Drive Connectivity Panel, provides insight into drive data in order to optimize condition monitoring. Among other things, it enables customers to access settings for motor behavior, control macros, diagnostics and data on energy efficiency and energy savings. To do this, the panel only needs to be placed on the frequency converter and a few settings made. It can then send information to the cloud using the latest cellular technologies such as NarrowBand IoT (NB-IoT) and Bluetooth. The direct connection of the panel to ABB Ability Cloud services is unique to date.
The secure connectivity to the ABB Ability Cloud services with corresponding data encryption and high cybersecurity enables customers to remotely monitor the status of their frequency converters, key performance indicators (KPIs), events as well as real-time and historical parameter trends through continuous data uploads. The remote support also guarantees access to expert knowledge for analyzing problems on site. The panel offers benefits in areas such as device and system management, remote condition monitoring, preventive maintenance, product usage analysis, product optimization and customization.
Target customers are mainly maintenance and plant operators from the process industry, the oil and gas industry, energy production, the food industry, steel and aluminum production and the paper industry who want to monitor their frequency converters with little effort. High system availability and low failure probability are important to these users. This is achieved by the fact that individual components of the devices can be replaced in good time before they fall below a critical failure probability.
NarrowBand IoT as an important component
NarrowBand IoT is an important component of the ABB Drive Connectivity Panel. This narrowband cellular technology has very good data transmission penetration. With their help, information can even be transmitted through concrete walls and into control rooms. Since NB-IoT can coexist with 2G, 3G and 4G, there is wide coverage in Europe. The first pilot devices are already being used successfully in Germany. In China, ABB has already delivered over 400 panels.
The ABB Drive Connectivity Panel is equipped with a powerful CPU. It enables information to be transmitted very quickly to the cloud via the integrated antenna. The 3D antenna was specially developed for this purpose together with a well-known antenna manufacturer.
The control panel also contains a permanently soldered SIM card. This means that the customer does not have to worry about the mobile network connection, as this is already provided by ABB in cooperation with Swisscom. The Swiss telecommunications company has roaming contracts with all major cell phone operators in Europe.
With the ABB Ability Mobile Connect solution, an extended function of the Drivetune app, case-based access to ABB frequency converters is also possible remotely in support cases. A direct connection to the ABB support line can be established via an app in order to avoid longer downtimes and ensure high productivity with the support of the experts and maintenance personnel on site. Another new solution, the ABB Drive Connectivity Panel, uses the latest cellular technology for the Internet of Things (IoT) to digitize frequency converters from a wide variety of industrial environments and connect them to the cloud. The panel offers a multitude of functions in order to prepare a wide range of information from inside the frequency converter in an easily readable and visualized manner.
By Sebastian Ceranski, Project engineer digitization, ABB Automation Products GmbH