Extend Motion Life: Automatic Grease Fittings Using New IoT Solution

November 16, 2023 by Bob Odhiambo

GreaseBoss and Nordic Semiconductor have recently launched a collaborative system using Nordic-powered sensors and Memfault to monitor grease flow, extending the life of moving machine components.

In a move to improve the maintenance of machinery, perhaps one of the oldest maintenance practices long predating control electronics, Australian company GreaseBoss has introduced an innovative greasing solution known as GreaseBoss Endpoint. The sensor-enabled device ensures that each piece of equipment is well-lubricated by monitoring the flow of lubricant while offering data to facilitate predictive maintenance.


GreaseBoss fittings and connector system

GreaseBoss Endpoint offers effective lubrication technology. Image used courtesy of Nordic Semiconductor and GreaseBoss


The GreaseBoss Endpoint Data Collection and Edge Processing

GreaseBoss Endpoint is an innovative solution that can be positioned in line with grease spots to remotely monitor the industrial lubricant flow, promising uniform greasing, and warning when auto-lubricator reservoirs are low and need refilling.

Powered by nRF52833 System on chip (SoC), which is manufactured by Nordic Semiconductor, a company known for its low-power wireless solutions, the GreaseBoss Endpoint is equipped with a data collection and sensor management interface. For power conservation and optimized data transmission, the nRF52833 System offers edge processing that ensures that only relevant data is transmitted.


Data Transmission and Cloud Access

Using low-energy Bluetooth (or BLE) connectivity, the GreaseBoss gateway can receive data from the Endpoint and relay the crucial data to the cloud for analysis and ease of access. Through both automated and on-demand reports provided by the GreaseBoss Cloud web platform, industries can verify compliance with lubrication requirements and receive notifications for devices that fail to meet the set points, for any reason.


Memfault's IoT Reliability Platform

Using Memfault's IoT reliability platform, the GreaseBoss Endpoint sensors have fault detection reporting to reduce on-sight visits and debugging, provide crucial data like reboot, trace, and report critical metrics. This reduces unplanned downtime, which may be costly, providing a reliable solution.


Benefits of Using the nRF52833 SoC

Nordic Semiconductor’s nRF52833 system on a chip (SoC) consumes very little power, provides +8 dBm maximum signal transmit output, and tolerates a wide temperature range of -40 ˚C to 105 ˚C. GreaseBoss engineers considered the extended battery life to be an essential factor due to the number of sensors needed to be installed, especially in areas that are hard to reach.

Memfault's performance monitoring capabilities, the low power demands of the nRF52833 SoC, and the use of Nordic Power Profiler Kit II (PPK2) work together to ensure that the GreaseBoss Endpoint can function reliably for many years.


Maintenance worker completing a greasing task

Using automation, greasing can be monitored, machine data can be logged, and the actual greasing operation can even be done remotely. Image used courtesy of Nordic Semiconductor and GreaseBoss


Development with Nordic Sensor Solutions

Nordic Semiconductor’s solutions have since boasted some impressive features offering great development tools, community, and support. With the ease of accessing sample codes and documentation, Nordic has streamlined the development process of the GreaseBoss Endpoint, enabling the use of their nRF Connect SDK to build their in-house application. The design process was also smoothened by the power choice of using a disposable coin cell battery, providing a wide input voltage range and reducing the use of unnecessary components in the bill of material.

As the company says, “GreaseBoss has made greasing safer, more reliable, and more productive than anything on the market before us with a suite of tools that digitally transform the task of greasing industrial equipment.” While engineers and manufacturers are looking to improve maintenance practices, solutions like the GreaseBoss Endpoint, which offers reliable lubrication technology with their modern IoT technology, will surely be an emerging choice in providing predictive maintenance solutions.