Precision acoustic imagers
To help users identify and localise ‘mechanical areas of interest’ within short timeframes, Fluke has announced it has added a new feature to its ii910 precision acoustic imagers. The Firmware 5.0 update brings a MecQ facility to the ii910 which helps to minimise unplanned downtime and cut repair costs by enabling early identification of potential mechanical problems. Energy savings can also be achieved by being able to carry out repairs early and reduce faults.
Fluke says the update was developed following extensive research involving its customers around the world in which maintenance specialists and technicians said their key focus was identifying issues as early as possible on the potential failure curve.
Looking at various types of conveyor systems, the research showed that non-driven bearings are often the root cause of many mechanical faults. Because these systems are integral to the overall production process, lengthy periods of downtime could have a high impact in the factory and cause major issues along the supply chain. This applies in food and beverage production as much as it does in the logistics, electronics, automotive and mining/raw materials sectors.
Despite a line going down representing a huge concern (and costing anything up to $130,000 an hour), Fluke found that around 59% of conveyor belt systems are never inspected while another 11% are checked manually. The research showed that the least effective way of detecting a problem was human sensing followed by contact temperature and thermography. Testing using contact vibration or airborne ultrasound also represented a challenge – with ease of use being a significant issue with the latter – but acoustic imaging was found to offer the most effective method of all.
Not only did customers say that the ability to localise issues was vital if substantial cost savings were to be achieved but they also needed a scalable solution that could help those with lengthy conveyor systems (a major warehouse could operate up to 80km of conveyor belts) or where accessibility was an issue (perhaps because of conveyor guards).
Using the Fluke ii910 acoustic imager with MecQ, the process of carrying out non-contact inspection on conveyor systems is simplified considerably, with the unit identifying immediately through sound pattern comparison the locality of a mechanical area of interest. Once the issue is displayed on-screen the maintenance professional can make a note of it, share it with their team and address it on their maintenance schedule.
MecQ was developed to bring an extra layer of detection to the ii910 in addition to taking a picture, taking a video, carrying out leak detection with LeakQ and partial discharge detection in PDQ mode.
Although the most common frequency for ultrasound instruments is 30kHz, the ii910 with MecQ now offers user-selectable frequencies from 2kHz to 100kHz and fixed multi-mode frequency bands of 15kHz, 20kHz, 30kHz, 40kHz and 60kHz to check various stages of bearing deterioration. Depending on the environment, the user can choose whether to turn these pre-set frequency bands on or off.
Tako Feron of Fluke says: “Any member of a maintenance team will love the ease-of-use the new MecQ facility provides with its intuitive interface and seamless integration with existing leak and partial discharge detection tools. They will also appreciate the ability to boost efficiency, maximise uptime (by reducing meantime-to-repair) and lower costs while ensuring high safety levels through contactless inspection and the elimination of hazardous situations. Thanks to MecQ, the ii910 now enables maintenance engineers to locate a problem, annotate a screenshot, share that with the team and then schedule repairs during planned downtime. Having all these workflow enablement solutions built into a single tool is not only unique to Fluke but the Firmware 5.0 upgrade has also simplified what could ordinarily be a highly complex and time-consuming inspection and maintenance operation.”
Feron adds: “It is important to remember that the ii910 with MecQ is designed to offer a first line scanning solution that identifies an area of interest at scale for follow-up inspection.”