Secure Condition Monitoring via the Web

Internet based Condition Monitoring forms the basis for condition-oriented maintenance services, and is
thus an important component of many maintenance and service strategies. The system also manages data and information about the machines if the customer so desires. A vital part of any Internet-based teleservices platform involves embedding the concept into the current communications and process requirements. Precondition for utilization is a secure Internet connection. Adopting load related, condition-oriented maintenance of machine tools, it is possible to improve the servicing processes and thereby to reduce the risk of an unscheduled system downtime. To enhance technical availability, an attempt is made to design the typical wear components to withstand longer load times. In all areas that cannot be protected with robustness, the machine user should be supported and notified well in advance through proactive diagnosis.

Condition monitoring via an internet platform

The user benefits in situ from this platform solution, which requires relatively little logic (thin client) as compared to a locally installed solution (fat client). For example, the machine can send an SMS or e-mail over the server and does not need a local provider or a local server. In addition, the burden on the machine control is reduced because the communications mechanism is largely installed right on the machine. 
Furthermore, the service provider only requires an up-to-date Internet provider and secure access to the Internet. For the user, this eliminates all of the expenditures for the operation of a server (availability, redundancy and data security). Moreover, the system is available worldwide and enables electronic cooperation between partners. With such condition monitoring, the fact that the complex analysis algorithms need not be installed on every machine plays a very important role. These are always available on the server in the most up-to-date form. In other words, all machines immediately benefit from algorithm improvements. Yet another advantage of the platform solution: defined trends are recorded and still available even after the exchange of control components such as the local hard drive.
To arrive at an effective overall concept, it is essential that various services such as remote access, workflow, control monitors, condition monitors and administrative services are linked with one another as part of a complete work sequence. The condition monitor then generates a trigger for the following effective sequence. After all, an incoming message is only useful if it is processed correctly. The integration of condition monitoring into the overall process is particularly important — especially if it concerns the cooperation between machine manufacturer and user.
The concept of condition monitoring for machine tools encompasses two different processes, namely monitoring and test series. With monitoring, data are automatically recorded and generated without the need to do anything on the end customer’s side. While they are important indicators, these data are not sufficient for a valid condition monitoring evaluation. That is why the user has access to test series which have to be executed by the operator at the end customer’s location. As a result, the algorithms placed on the server do not only provide information about the recorded values, but also about the quality of the measurement data. The measured parameters, for example, tolerances, inversion range or friction values, are then displayed in trend curves as measurement series. Detailed information on transgressive values can be viewed and retrieved by double clicking.
Condition monitoring on complex machine tools involves a multitude of individual activities, during which data from the controller, the NC core, the drive system and the operator panel are generated, interlinked and analyzed. Internet based services offer a mobile, worldwide “tool chest” for both the end customer and the manufacturer.

Condition Monitoring as a toolbox for individual requirements

Based on standard services, individual customers, manufacturers of milling machines, have developed enhanced concepts for condition monitoring of certain TCO components.

Tool changers

Company A locally developed a tool of its own which records tool changes in real time according to its specific requirements, and then documents the results in a file. All of the files are automatically loaded onto the server and analyzed by Company A service in compliance with the respective end customer agreement.

Servo axes

Based on the standard synchronous axis test (for servo axes with ball screw), the Company B has expanded the function to allow the rigidity of an axis to be assessed via trends. As part of the service package, they conduct this analysis for end customers, making an important assessment criterion available without the need for external sensor technology.

Main spindles

Company C has developed a process for spindle testing. Here, the measurement program is loaded and started by the server via maintenance contract. The measurement data are generated with the help of vibration sensor technology in the motor spindle and appropriate evaluation electronics, and the SW made available by the central service company, thus creating a spindle or inventory analysis. Depending on the result, further (service) measures are initiated.

Nitin Nair