The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute (CESMII) announced selections for five projects to identify ways to use smart-manufacturing technologies to improve productivity, precision, performance and energy efficiency. A team led by Dr. Kenneth Loparo, Arthur L. Parker Professor in the Department of Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering at Case Western Reserve University in partnership with Rafter Equipment Corporation was one of those selected for final negotiations for funding.
Per Dr. Loparo, “we are partnering with Rafter Equipment to focus on health monitoring and predictive diagnostics of tube mills. The project will demonstrate how real-time data and analytics can be used for predictive diagnostics and how the CESMII Smart Manufacturing Innovation Platform (SMIP) can be used by small and medium manufacturing companies to address some of their immediate operational needs, such as condition-based maintenance.”
With the goal of improving the operating efficiency of mill systems, the project team seeks to minimize downtime and create targeted preventative maintenance strategies through the use of a wireless sensor network and algorithms designed to detect and diagnose incipient bearing faults. Prognostic indicators and alerts can then be provided to mill personnel to enable proactive intervention.
The monitoring system is intended to identify potential areas where faults may be developing and alert plant personnel, with the potential to improve uptime by avoiding catastrophic failures and providing a targeted approach to preventative maintenance, and minimizing unnecessary part replacement, unplanned downtime, and maintenance tasks. The work will extend CESMII’s SMIP by developing “smart-manufacturing profiles”— a library of reusable information, including models of manufacturing processes and related equipment — that will help achieve CESMII’s energy objectives.
Philip Baker, V.P. of Engineering and Customer Support at Rafter, believes this joint effort will also be a boon to both the company and the industry. In his words, “As a 100+ year old manufacturer of tube mills and tube mill equipment, Rafter has continued to be an innovator. We are excited about continuing our tradition of bringing new technologies to the tube and pipe industry through this project. We believe that by teaming up with the Internet of Things Collaborative (IOTC) on this ground-breaking project, we will positively impact the direction of the industry and drive the change in automation and higher quality output needed by our customers.”