NORD DRIVESYSTEMS’ Condition Monitoring Solution Makes Predictive Maintenance a Reality for Efficiency-Focused Plant Operations

June 4, 2021

NORD’s Condition Monitoring solution utilizes the internal PLC within their variable frequency drives to integrate drive-related actuators and sensors into a system, detecting undesired operating conditions at an early stage to avoid critical system problems and costly downtime.

For condition monitoring, drive and status data are recorded periodically or continuously to optimize the operational safety and efficiency of machines and plants. Condition monitoring provides valuable information for predictive maintenance with the goals to address service issues proactively, reduce downtime, and increase overall plant efficiency. Data from digital and analog sensors play a central role in condition monitoring, replacing time-based maintenance with status-based maintenance, and NORD’s integrated PLC allows for easy integration with both decentralized and control cabinet solutions.

NORD’s condition monitoring system can be programmed to record drive and status data periodically or continuously via the internal PLC within the variable frequency drive. This fully integrated PLC is able to capture and pre-process specific parameters and drive-related sensors without the need for an external controller. The results are then provided via the PLC output parameters and can be sent and saved to a local dashboard via Industrial Ethernet (e.g. PROFINET IO) for visualization.

In addition to built-in measuring capability, each NORD drive unit can also evaluate external sensors including those for temperature and system vibration. Processing of these measurements and preparation of output signals is carried out dynamically and individually in each variable frequency drive with the aid of the PLC. An interface for digital and analog sensors, including virtual sensors, enable the PLC to calculate information such as the optimal oil change time. Because oil temperature is a key factor for oil aging, the PLC can calculate the best time to change the oil based on its temperature over time. In this example, hardware temperature sensors are no longer needed because the virtual sensors can effectively calculate the current oil temperature by way of drive-specific parameters.

All output signals from the variable frequency drive’s data processing are also provided for further processing via the bus interface and are read out via the dashboard. This dashboard is the data storage unit for all captured operating drive values. It is presented from a database in a local industrial PC that can give general information about the motor, gear unit, and variable frequency drive. Due to the detailed visualization of each drive, it also doubles as an interactive interface for the operator, who can easily access each drive individually to see its real-time updates and history. The dashboard also allows definition of value thresholds for specified factors that will trigger an alarm if the thresholds are exceeded. Additionally, each drive can signal its own status with an external beacon signal column that lights up green for no warnings, yellow when the warning threshold is exceeded, and red when the error threshold is exceeded. These alarms can also be set to trigger when there is real-time malfunction or change in the system for active monitoring that ensures all systems are functioning properly.

NORD provides a free companion mobile application that is available for iOS and Android devices, the NORDCON APP. This app can be used to display the dashboard for drive monitoring and fault diagnosis and allows access to any drive parameters, along with help functions that provide information about the individual parameter being accessed. An oscilloscope function is also included that can trace up to four different variables, making it a helpful tool for commissioning or troubleshooting the system. If any issues arise, a support ticket can be generated directly from the app and will email specific parameter settings directly to a NORD application engineer for review.

NORD also provides NORD CON, a free desktop software suite available for download directly from the website. Available for any Windows-based operating systems, NORD CON provides a user-friendly parameterization and programming interface, including an internal PLC editor that can be programmed with either structured text or an instruction list - the same program used for NORD’s Condition Monitoring system. Additionally, if the NORD CON software is connected to the same Ethernet network as the variable frequency devices, it is possible to tunnel through the Ethernet system and access every variable frequency device in a specific address range.

There are many benefits to adding NORD’s Condition Monitoring for Predictive Maintenance to an existing system or planning for its integration into new installations. Greater operational efficiency, as well as time and cost savings can be gained from this system to positively affect the Total Cost of Ownership and a company’s bottom line. Condition-based maintenance can also significantly extend the life of components and machinery by preventing conditions that would cause additional damage to the system if not addressed immediately and planned machine or system maintenance prevents downtime and increase system availability.

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