The evolution of components reflects the new goals of the IoT, with intelligent solutions capable of generating and sharing data to optimise the use of resources. Among the solutions on show at Mecspe 2021 are R+W’s couplings with AIC technology in a variety of versions and the new LP5 and LPH lamellar couplings.
The need to operate as remotely as possible has prompted the development of machinery capable of monitoring and self-regulating its operation. This objective has required the support of suppliers of components and solutions which are perfectly integrated into the Internet of Things, capable of generating and transmitting information essential to the efficient running of the production process. IoT applications incorporating Artificial Intelligence algorithms are based on networked devices equipped with sensors and processors able to communicate with each other and interact with the environment while collecting and sharing data and information. Initially used for the assembly of individual products, these applications are now finding use in process control, modifying production processes, assembly lines, diagnostics and industrial maintenance.
Intelligent manufacturing requires interconnected components
In the manufacturing sector intelligent components deploy their sensing, interaction and interconnection capabilities, enhancing the adaptive and automated aspects of production functions. Among the features of IoT-enabled production environments, the real-time collection of data as well as its sharing is central: wireless technologies are crucial in supporting this activity. Smart manufacturing uses advanced materials, adaptive decision-making models, data analytics and smart devices and sensors to facilitate the management of the entire product lifecycle. The manufacturing ecosystem is realised by adopting new models, shapes and transforming traditional components into smart components. Artificial Intelligence, especially in the aspects of machine learning and its application to decision-making processes, reduces human involvement in aspects such as logistics, material composition of components and real-time control and monitoring of production processes.
Integrated sensor technology supports predictive maintenance
The evolution in sensor design has led to the development of sensors of integrated sensors, such as continuous torque monitoring couplings, an integral part of many predictive maintenance programmes in the petrochemical and processing industries. Embedded sensors have since evolved into sensor systems that allow components to operate in smart mode. The quest for increasing levels of efficiency and competitiveness in industry leads to the need to extend the lifecycle of all critical components of the machinery and equipment used, taking advantage of the possibilities and contexts provided by IoT.
Artificial intelligence drives the development of the new couplings
The most advanced component suppliers have implemented new torque and vibration sensor technologies to adapt to the requirements of Industry 4.0, especially with regard to the integration of systems allowing the smart component to be monitored both under operating conditions and for routine and extraordinary predictive maintenance needs. R+W, promptly responded by designing the first smart coupling: AIC, which stands for Artificial Intelligence Coupling. Designed to meet the demand from Industry 4.0 for components capable of self-monitoring and monitoring machine operation, from maintenance to continuous performance control, AIC technology has been applied to an increasingly wide range of couplings. The AIC technology developed by R+W allows certain operating parameters (temperature, vibration, misalignment of the torque being transmitted, etc.) to be recorded thanks to the sensors integrated into the coupling itself. The result, which is the most advanced example of smart component currently available, makes it possible to create machines which are increasingly efficient, precise and able to continuously monitor themselves in order to foresee any faults which would have a negative impact on productivity.
Disc pack couplings become smart
New models have been added to the first R+W couplings available in AIC version: disc pack coupling are among them. Particularly suitable in heavy-duty applications and therefore widely used in areas such as the milling industry, printing presses, paper converting machines, centrifugal pumps and test benches, LP disc pack couplings are robust and compact; they are maintenance-free, compensate for misalignment and transmit high torque values. The faces of the disk pack are locked by high-strength screws; this prevents micro movements, improving reliability and rigidity. Among the most recent introductions are the LP5 couplings, equipped with a tapered shrink disk, and the LPH couplings, with concentric separable clamps. In the AIC version with integrated sensors, these couplings combine the many positive features of the basic models with the ability to collect data from inside the drive train, facilitating quality monitoring and optimising maintenance.