Five Ways to Tell if Your Machine Could Benefit from Smart Technology


imageBy Steve Zumbusch
Director of Advanced Platform Innovations, Eaton Hydraulics Group


Smart machines help end users gain greater intelligence into their equipment. In turn, this enhances machine performance and increases productivity and efficiency. To realize these benefits, end users should consider implementing more intelligent machinery throughout their facilities. Smart equipment offers many benefits in daily operations that justify the cost of the upgrade.

If you are thinking about upgrading or replacing your technology, consider these five reasons why your machine could benefit from smart equipment.

1. Self-analysis through sensors

Sensors can communicate the conditions of the machine, such as the temperature, pressure and speed. Eaton’s CMA mobile valve or AxisPro® industrial valves have sensors built in so that they can monitor conditions from within the machine, offering greater insight into operations and helping end users improve performance. For example, if these valves sense that the position of the machine is not quite correct, they can make small adjustments to resolve the problem. Or, if they see that there is not enough flow for all of the demands in a plant environment, they can prioritize the plant demands and make sure the most important needs are met first.

2. More intelligent electrohydraulic valves

There are now different levels of intelligence available for end users to choose from in their electrohydraulic valves. There is the simple proportional control, where you send an electronic signal and it gives you a proportional response. That same valve can be specified with the added capability of conducting minor calculations to automatically perform functions. For example, you can take the sensor readings and maintain a certain pressure or a certain flow. This level of control can continue to go all the way to a level where you can put instructions on the individual component – the valve – to the point where it will run the subsystem completely. The valve can have the ability to communicate with other parts of the system and command them to perform the optimum way for that subsystem.

3. Improved control schemes

Older machines tend to have very basic control schemes – often, they are simple on/off or they have simple proportional controls that will proportionally come on or proportionally come off. Smart equipment on the other hand has dynamic, built-in controls. These new control schemes can not only sense information, but make decisions on what to do with it and improve the machine function.

4. Reduce energy use

Smart equipment has greater intelligence into the overall power requirements of a machine. This means that it can store energy when demand is low, and save it for when the machine is in peak demand. Variable speed drives are an excellent example to reduce energy use and wear and tear on the equipment, rather than relying on the valves to throttle with the flow going in and out of the system.

5. Increased diagnostics

Smart equipment also helps optimize machine output with increased diagnostics. They can monitor pressure internally, make decisions very quickly and re-direct parts in the most efficient manner without doing damage. This greatly increases performance improvement from an energy efficiency standpoint, as well as productivity.

Smart equipment will continue to evolve. As technology advances, there will be greater combination of centralized and decentralized decision points, where plant decisions are made from centralized controller but individual components can decide how much energy is required and provide a control loop. This will only improve the benefits that end users can receive from upgrading their equipment to smart technology.

To read more about smarter machines and dynamic machine control by Eaton, visit here.