Low-Cost Condition Monitoring/Maximo IoT

(5 min.) Summary: One of the most effective uses of Maximo is to auto-generate PM or inspection work orders based on input from meters – aka Condition Monitoring. One would only need basic familiarity with the Assets module in order to create meters and set up measurement points in the Condition Monitoring application. A simple administrative setting allows for work order generation, and there are numerous, fairly standard ways to create notifications and display results on KPIs. Likewise, creating QBRs and result trendline plots of monitoring results are also simple tasks which any user should be able to handle.

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I find myself repeatedly in discussions wherein a client wants to either start collecting meter data or is looking for ways to simplify the process. Often, they describe sending technicians and engineers to locations and assets to collect the needed meter data. This sounds like a good idea, after all, they have people with measuring tools and know-how, a fleet of vehicles to traverse to all corners of their service area, and they understand the importance of collecting the data, whether for regulatory reasons or to apply some form of predictive analysis.

Being a lifelong automation enthusiast, my mind immediately shifts to thinking of ways the collection of data can be made more efficient and cost effective. One of the most common areas process improvement can be made is in the 6th waste Identified in standard Lean practices – Transportation. Without doing a detailed analysis, transporting people and tools to remote locations is obviously costly. Just look at the previous paragraph where people, tools, vehicles, travel time, etc., were briefly discussed. Consider some of the real costs of running a meter reading route:

Cost of labor – even if optimized routes are used, resources have to be dispatched to run the route, stopping at each location or asset to take a reading and record it. Even if the labor is part of a fixed amount, this takes away from wrench time.
Cost of tools – if widely dispersed, vehicle cost is first. Then there’s the measurement equipment which may be used – loss, attrition by damage, calibrations.
Cost of conveying reading data – there may be mobile devices used to submit readings to the system. If not, there’s a hidden cost of error which is introduced by writing readings on a clipboard and entering them into the system at a later time.

With all these client discussions in mind I was impelled to come up with a truly excellent example of how to increase the effectiveness and payback of a Maximo system in readily measurable ways. This would require a cost effective method of measuring and transmitting data to Maximo to achieve a fully automated process from meter reading through inspection, preventive or corrective work order issuance.

Of course, OSI PI can be used with a custom interface to Maximo, however this is a costly proposition. Let’s just say very costly to both establish and maintain. It’s a large, bulky outdated tool set (IMHO). There’s a lot of equipment without PLC or PC based controllers, and no readily available means of automating data collection. The same is often true of facilities spaces (Maximo Locations) which also need to be monitored. Today this can be done with the right combinations of cellular, Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity and some simple measure and transmit hardware.

Take for example, the example of the temperature monitoring solution in the following POC/demonstration. Here are the different parts needed for a fully automated process from remote, unmanned monitoring through work order issuance.

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1. Condition Monitoring Measurement Point

Condition Monitoring

Condition Monitoring

2. Meter for temperature. We could be reading voltage, current, pressure, or many other parameters.

Meters

Meters

3. Bluetooth Temperature Transmitter – This takes the reading and sends it via Bluetooth to the device shown in section 4.

This proto is based on a Parallax BS2 which is a technological throw-back from the 90’s. The BS2 is paired with a Bluetooth breakout board, in the lower right corner. The BS2 was used for two reasons. 1. Availability – I just had to blow the dust off one I already had and, 2. It runs an interpreter which allows for very rapid prototyping. A key point is that not much speed or power is needed, thus, there are many other suitable platforms available- (The new Raspberry Pi 3 includes integrated WiFi and BT!)

Prototype hardware

Prototype hardware

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4. Android Tablet with WiFi and 4G cellular (can also be a phone or chassis mount device) sends readings to Maximo. Needs to be within BT range of the BT transmitter and can remain with charger connected. Likewise, if WiFi is not available, the cellular connection can be switched on instead. The app running on this device acts as a Bluetooth server and is wirelessly interfaced with Maximo as a client. Of course, this must be used in conjunction with a licensed user.

Was CM8

Resulting periodic meter readings

 

End results, out of range temperature readings trigger PM work orders (with associated job plans), notification of the work orders shown in the upper portlet and a temperature KPI on the Start Center. This system doesn’t have a mail server, but it would be a basic task to set up Email notifications also.

7 inch 4G Tablet View

7 inch 4G Tablet View

There were no wires run between hardware, this is all wireless, making for simple set up for each measurement point. It required developing an Android app to capture the readings from the BT transmitter and post the readings to the Maximo server. There’s some front-end administrative skills to set it up, however it’s remarkably simple and reliable. The demo shown has been running for weeks without a glitch.

The level of device management and security may vary between users. The level of hardware packaging for outdoor and industrial environments will need to be designed, which also is standard fare these days. The sensor/transmitter hardware cost in this case is about $80 USD. It could be produced in smaller form for considerably less.

Now, think of the reduced labor hours, fleet vehicle mileage/wear & tear, measurement tools that won’t get lost and missing and transposed numbers and readings that won’t be missed….

FWIW, I also have a POC/demo for OBD2 readings in place of the home-built transmitter which monitors fleet vehicle and engine parameters in a very similar manner.

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