Monitoring Harsh Manufacturing Environments With NI Wireless Network Technology

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"We used NI CompactDAQ hardware and NI LabVIEW software to create new data acquisition gateways, previously technologically inaccessible, for manufacturing condition monitoring. NI hardware and software helps manufacturers incorporate flexibility into their processes to produce more dynamically capable systems and ultimately more sustainable manufacturing."

- Jeff Morgan , Trinity College Dublin

The Challenge:
Facilitating machine condition monitoring in dynamic and hazardous industrial environments.

The Solution:
Using NI CompactDAQ and NI LabVIEW to create an industrial, noninvasive wireless vibration monitoring system for remote data acquisition in extreme machining environments.

Author(s):
Jeff Morgan - Trinity College Dublin

According to a 2011 United Nations report, manufacturing accounts for 23 percent of global economic employment. With the world in economic downturn, people are concerned about losing their jobs and providing for their families. To avoid layoffs, organizations must balance sustainability with a competitive position in the market place.

In product manufacturing, sustainability refers to implementing processes that minimise negative environmental impacts while conserving energy and natural resources. Manufacturers are seeking new methods, techniques, and technologies across a range of different sectors to reduce material and energy resources. To achieve sustainability, manufacturers can implement effective maintenance measures to ensure capable production without increasing resource consumption.

Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG, a leading provider of solutions and services for the print media industry, hired us to create a wireless vibration monitoring system for one of its manufacturing processes that involves grinding impression cylinder surfaces, which play a key role in printing machines. This process uses grinding machines to produce a uniformed surface smoothness at a micron scale level. A machine with such fine precision requires advanced vibration and condition monitoring systems.

System Overview

Condition monitoring for Heidelberger’s grinding machine presented many challenges because of the limited availability of data gateways on the machine. The harsh internal machining environment consists of hazardous airborne particulate, corrosive coolant, and electrical noise. The grinding machine’s electronic controller provides data for monitoring but with limited process variables, limited acquisition rates, and nontransferable real-time data. Additionally, cable routing for communication was not an option because of the dynamic nature of the machine’s internal grinding components.

To overcome the challenges of condition monitoring, we developed two industrial wireless vibration sensing units. Each unit consists of an NI cDAQ-9191 wireless communication chassis, an NI 9234 signal acquisition module, and a triaxial Integrated Electronic Piezoelectric (IEPE) accelerometer.

A custom magnetic-mounted enclosure protects the triaxial accelerometer and offers the option of placement on most metallic surfaces. The enclosure meets the ingress protection (IP) level 66, meaning it can withstand fine dust and high-pressure water jets. We fed the sensor cable through a cable conduit to attach the sensor enclosure to the enclosure containing the NI hardware. The cable conduit is lined with internal electrostatic dissipation foam to dampen the effects of electrical and vibration noise.

We connected the three channels (X, Y, Z) of the accelerometer to the NI 9234 dynamic signal acquisition module that we selected due to its high-speed data measurement and modular design. The NI 9234 module fit into the chassis of the cDAQ-9191, an NI CompactDAQ chassis capable of 802.11 WiFi communication. The cDAQ-9191 chassis provides high-speed communication of up to 54 Mbit/s, wireless data communication technology, plug-and-play operation, modular design and the flexibility to incorporate multiple acquisition modules to satisfy an array of measurement requirements for current and future use. We fixed the chassis inside another custom IP 66 protective enclosure to facilitate internal machine mounting and protection.

With the compact design of the NI hardware, we can easily move and position the system inside the machine, ultimately providing a highly flexible, noninvasive mobile measurement system. We placed two systems inside the grinding machine at key locations in less than 15 minutes. The units initially required only 24 VDC power, after which all configuration and acquisition were wireless via WiFi network to a single notebook computer positioned outside the machine. Both systems connected to the same wireless network and were set to acquire 6 kS/s across each axis of both accelerometers, providing a total of 36 kS/s equating to 864 kbit/s with 24 bits per sample. We developed a LabVIEW interface to provide sophisticated, customized, user- friendly data acquisition, analysis and storage.

Sustainable Manufacturing Through Flexible NI Platform

We used NI CompactDAQ hardware and NI LabVIEW software to create new data acquisition gateways, previously technologically inaccessible, for manufacturing condition monitoring. To achieve these new gateways, we used the flexible NI platform to overcome previously established constraints on data gateways for industrial condition-based monitoring. As organisations strive for sustainable existence, they require a diverse range of adaptable tools for unique processes and subsequent environments. NI hardware and software helps manufacturers incorporate flexibility into their processes to produce more dynamically capable systems and ultimately enables more sustainable manufacturing.

Author Information:
Jeff Morgan
Trinity College Dublin
Trinity College Dublin, College Green,
Dublin 2
Ireland
morganje@tcd.ie

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