Condition monitoring system for voltage, current, temperature

Intermittent-error problem solving on machines, in plants, and facilities is expected to get easier with Fluke’s 3500 FC Series Condition Monitoring System for remote or local sensing, data logging, and alarming of voltage, current, and temperature measurements. See three values of condition monitoring and three benefits.

By CFE Media July 21, 2016

The Fluke 3500 FC Series Condition Monitoring System will help with finding intermittent faults in industrial machines, discrete manufacturing lines, or process facilities, as well as help with long-term trending and information beyond what existing alarms provide. It also can help with troubleshooting legacy equipment without or with little sensing and diagnostic capabilities. Fluke is taking pre-orders for system this month; availability is expected by mid-August for the new wireless condition monitoring line.

The system builds on Fluke Connect offerings and capabilities, with the introduction of a new hardware and software license configuration and a rugged design for longer-term, unattended data collection than Fluke Connect, which offers more than 40 wireless instruments designed for attended data collection.

Fluke Corp. will offer the system in mid-August and discussed the product line with CFE Media editors July 19. The system aims to decrease downtime or quality issues that can linger, especially as manufacturers, machine builders, or facilities may not have the number technicians or depth of engineering expertise available as in the past, Fluke noted.

With the Fluke 3500 Condition Monitoring System, sensors connect to a transmitter that sends information securely and wirelessly up to 30 m to a Fluke Connect secure gateway router using MQTT protocol to feed data into a network, cloud, or mobile app for smartphones, tablets, or other monitoring devices for analysis or distribution. The Fluke wireless gateway architecture provides isolation from any existing plant Wi-Fi system.

Initially available Fluke sensors (including transmitters) that can be connected to the wireless condition monitoring system include:

  • AC Voltage Sensor
  • DC Voltage Sensor
  • AC Current iFlex Sensor
  • 2000A DC Current Sensor
  • K-Type Temperature Sensor.

Up to 10 sensors can be connected wirelessly to each secure gateway. Each sensor connects to its transmitter with 3-5 ft of cable. The portable devices can be left at a remote location or managed locally, with data running through the Fluke gateway to condition monitoring software. Faults can be tracked through historical data, and measurements can be taken as often as every second. Once collected in the software program, the information can be viewed through any connected device. The same software also integrates the monitoring data into work orders and asset management records.

Three values of condition monitoring

In the media release, Fluke cited three areas where it sees the condition monitoring system having great value:

1. Finding intermittent faults. How often is a technician in the right place, at the right time? Just as cars stop making clanking noises in front of mechanics, equipment can stop demonstrating symptoms in front of the technician. Root cause is also difficult to diagnose as faults may across different pieces of equipment.

2. Long-term trending. Fluctuations and non-linear patterns in equipment performance are tough to identify without continuous monitoring. It is also challenging to assemble data using only routes or short-term logging data. The battery life on the remote monitors allows for up to 40 days.

3. Avoiding the noise of fixed alarms. Predictive maintenance with condition monitoring minimizes unplanned downtime and extends asset life, by providing real-time measurements and alarms to indicate how assets are running.

Company officials said the Fluke system is designed to bring portable sensing to electrical and testing equipment. Fluke estimates at least 4 million assets are not now monitored in U.S. industry with capability to cause downtime for a manufacturing line. Many are legacy machines that cannot be easily retrofitted with monitoring and diagnostic capabilities.

How condition monitoring helps in three ways

A related Fluke data sheet explained condition monitoring benefits in three ways:

1. Problems go unnoticed until they’re catastrophic. Equipment without monitoring often remains under the radar. Fluke Condition Monitoring is an industrial system of wireless sensors and gateway that a team can easily move around a plant. Monitoring can provide a second opinion to identify an intermittent fault or to check a fixed sensor. Log measurements 24/7 and set up alarms so data collection continues over time, even while experts leave the plant, but still "watch" the equipment.

2. Limited trending and analysis capabilities. The inability to track some equipment over time results in a piecemeal information. Data that is siloed or inconsistent is very difficult or impossible to analyze. Machines without monitoring can become the weakest link in a production chain, threatening downtime. Fluke Condition Monitoring enables capture of baseline data and trending on equipment to identify problems more quickly. By correlating historical trends and tracking current conditions, faults can be detected and equipment uptime increased.

3. Fixed sensors can be expensive and lack flexibility. Fixed sensors necessitate a sizable investment in design, engineering, and IT. Retrofitting can be cost prohibitive for less critical equipment. In addition, by definition fixed sensors are limited by their location. The Fluke Condition Monitoring system provides a flexible, cost-effective, easy-to-setup-and-operate alternative. Whether taking simple electrical and temperature measurements or power monitoring, Fluke provides a portable cohesive system designed to deliver equipment insight to put experts In front of an issue for easier troubleshooting to find the root cause.

Bob Vavra, Plant Engineering, and Mark Hoske, Control Engineering, CFE Media, from discussions with and supporting materials from Fluke. 

Author Bio: Since its founding in 2010, CFE Media and Technology has provided engineers in manufacturing, commercial and industrial buildings, and manufacturing control systems with the knowledge they need to improve their operational efficiency. CFE delivers the right information at the right time around the world through a variety of platforms.