Wireless Technologies – A Practical Use Guide

The market for industrial wireless technologies has exceeded $1B annually and is expected to grow as global competition in manufacturing pushes facilities to ensure that their operation is performing at optimal levels and at the lowest total cost of ownership. Declining sensor costs and improved wireless communication protocols fueled by the mega-trend of IoT, have created an ever growing mix of suppliers, distributors, and service providers using wireless technologies for machine condition monitoring. While it’s easy to get caught up in the hype surrounding wireless, it’s becoming increasingly necessary to sort out the financial viability of these new technologies.



Start with the Business Case

Like any sound business decision, it comes down to time and money. Addressing the following questions when evaluating the use of wireless technology should be a first step before settling on a particular technology.

  • When conditions are detected that indicate a machinery problem, how much time is needed to prepare spare parts, craft labor, etc.?

    • Note that the ability to detect faults at the earliest stages of failure, especially for low speed equipment, may require more sophisticated technologies than the capabilities of wireless systems.


  • What is the cost of lost production in the facility when equipment is run to failure or fails unexpectedly?

    • It is important to understand if there will be a payback for the instrumentation, minimally in terms of risk mitigation. Deploying technologies on equipment that doesn’t benefit from condition based monitoring is an inefficient use of time and resources. Running equipment to failure may be a sound business decision if the equipment has redundancy or spares are readily available, and simply replacing the equipment when it goes down doesn’t adversely affect production and safety.


  • What resources are available to analyze the data generated from the wireless monitoring systems?

    • Interpreting and acting upon condition monitoring data is paramount in sustaining a successful monitoring program. If resources to interpret the data are not available at the facility, consider utilizing automation and/or certified analysts to ensure that the data is being leverage to positively impact the bottom line.


Answering these questions will ensure that a technology which provides a favorable return on investment is utilized.

There are many types of wireless monitoring devices available today, varying in measurement sophistication, communication methods & protocols, data management, form factor, and durability.  From a technical standpoint, be sure to select a monitoring system which fits the machine in terms of criticality ranking and operating conditions.  Please reach out to our experts if you need assistance. 


Perceptiv™ Products & Services

Our wireless monitoring solutions are typically packaged with installation & commissioning services to ensure that your system provides value from day 1.  Additionally, our team of Certified Analysts can provide remote analysis of the data and advise your facility on recommended corrective actions.  Because the monitoring software captures full waveform and spectrum, and temperature data, we can do more than tell you something has changed - we’re able to remotely diagnose machine faults and degradation, help prioritize corrective actions, and minimize unnecessary trips to the field.  Furthermore, since the monitoring system is continuously communicating the condition of the machine and doesn’t rely on near field communication (a.k.a. Root Based Monitoring) with a smart phone, you can be sure you’re covered 24/7, and alerted to any adverse condition via email or text.


Practical Considerations for Wireless Monitoring

  • Wireless sensors allow for quick and easy deployment of condition monitoring where gaps in the data stream will not have a detrimental effect on system reliability. The gaps in the data are usually inherent to the data collection logic, which is often setup to collect data at certain times of day or when other conditions are met. Since data is often collected intermittently, most wireless monitoring systems are best suited for steady state machines that are either on or off such as fans, pumps or other process equipment that do not have frequent starts and stops within a day.
  • Speed feedback on a dynamic machine with varying speeds and loads is critical in diagnosing faults, and in some cases wired systems might be preferable. In the hands of a skilled analyst though, speed changes are not a limiting factor as the analyst can use other methods to determine speed if the frequency and resolution are high enough.
  • Each machine has a number of different possible failure modes, many of which are related to specific fault frequencies in the vibration spectrum. It is necessary to consider the fault frequencies that would be present for a given machine to ensure that the they do not exceed the limits of the wireless sensor on both the low and high end of the spectrum. Our experts can help identify the specific failure modes that will be captured with a particular technology.
  • Often there is equipment located in remote locations of a facility and doesn’t benefit from a flow of human traffic sensitive to subtle changes in noise, dripping fluids, etc., and those machines become out of sight, out of mind. Let the wireless sensors be your “ears” in locations people never visit, such as equipment located in tunnels, roofs or rafters or equipment that isn’t stationary such as a crane or mobile equipment.
  • When properly deployed and supported by an appropriate business case, wireless monitoring is a great tool for covering a variety of assets in your facility. Successful implementations will result in increased equipment availability and a lower total cost of ownership.



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