Fluke Reliability Acquires Azima DLI to Add AI-Powered Vibration Analysis
Fluke Reliability has added new AI tools for monitoring and analyzing data to optimize machine health and prevent failures.
Vibration monitoring is a crucial component to determining machine health. Because of this, Fluke Reliability, a subsidiary of Fortive Corporation has fully acquired Azima DLI, which specializes in subscription-based remote monitoring of equipment. One key acquisition will be Azima DLI’s Watchman 360 software as a service (SaaS) that performs these monitoring services. Combined with Fluke Reliability’s existing tools, this acquisition will help provide better service and support to their customers.
Importance of Vibration Monitoring
The purpose of vibration monitoring is to look for anomalies in equipment functionality. First, a baseline vibration pattern is established that shows how a piece of equipment performs normally. This involves capturing signals in multiple directions, through microphones, pressure sensors, strain gauges, accelerometers or other such means. From there, the signals are processed, often with a Fast Fourier Transformation (FFT), to characterize the signals present. The FFT classifies the signals by amplitudes and frequencies. After that, the equipment is constantly monitored, looking for instances where the normal vibrations change, either in frequency or amplitude, indicating some sort of performance change.
The partnership between effective vibrations analysis instruments and a proven analytics platform can turn data into cost-saving action.
The vibration fingerprints can be used to find a few common problems. For example, suppose a bearing is wearing out in a motor. As it wears, there will be new vibration signatures, perhaps undetectable initially to humans. When these signals appear, the bearing can be replaced before the motor fails catastrophically. Another common application is to use vibration monitoring to check for cavitation in pumps. If the pressure drop is too low during pumping, some of the dissolved gasses come out of solution. The constant forming and popping of these bubbles causes premature wear on pump hardware. The popping of these bubbles also generates new vibration signatures.
Cavitation damage in a boat propeller. Image used courtesy of Erik Axdahl, Wikipedia Commons
Azima DLI’s Watchman 360
Azima DLI’s Watchman 360 is a SaaS where manufacturers subscribe to have their equipment monitored. The Watchman 360 software platform collects, processes and archives vibration data. It then uses the data to detect specific faults, calculate metrics, such as mean time to failure and other useful information. Watchman 360 also brings artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms into the analysis, meaning that 93% of the tests and decisions can be made automatically. This frees up the engineering workforce so that they can focus on the remaining 7% of the problems that currently require human troubleshooting.
How does AI help? Consider the scenario of the motor bearing that is wearing out. The AI algorithms in the Watchman 360 platform detect the vibration anomaly. They compare it to past failure modes and determine that the bearing has a mean time to failure of two weeks under continuous operation. It alerts a process engineer, who schedules maintenance time to replace this bearing, as well as other preventative maintenance tasks, in the next week. The workload is shifted away from this machine, and the production numbers do not suffer. One new bearing, regular preventative maintenance performed, and a crisis has been averted in a seamless manner.
The Watchman 360 program combines monitoring instruments with AI-powered analytics. Image used courtesy of SymphonyAI
Turning Condition Monitoring Into Action
While Fluke Reliability already has some remote condition monitoring capability, the addition of Azima DLI, particularly their Watchman 360 SaaS, will be a benefit to their customers. Because vibration monitoring can help predict when preventative maintenance is required, it has the potential to save money and troubleshooting hours while preventing catastrophic failure of process equipment. In terms of industries impacted, virtually all manufacturing plants have pumps and motors, which benefit greatly from vibration monitoring.