Q&A: Making maintenance smarter via remote monitoring and digital tools

Turbomachinery Magazine, July/August 2021,

Dan Phillips, Technical Director, Monitoring and Diagnostics, Regal, discusses couplings, the Internet of Things, remote monitoring, diagnostics, and smarter maintenance practices.

WHAT TRENDS HAVE YOU OBSERVED OVER THE PAST YEAR?

Especially with personnel working remotely, we’ve seen an increase in companies connecting and tracking equipment with sensors and other Internet of Things (IoT) hardware and software to enhance their preventative maintenance capabilities. The coupling industry is catching up with the rest of the world in terms of the data revolution. But even there, demand has exploded in terms of end user interest about how couplings are designed and selected, how they are manufactured, how they operate, how they are maintained, and how they are serviced.

CAN YOU GIVE AN EXAMPLE?

Just like you and I track our orders from Amazon and get regular updates during the process, customers are looking for the same easily accessible live data for couplings. The procurement team needs quick access to product information to make purchases. Project managers are looking at Gantt charts to understand more about the process and status while couplings are being designed and manufactured. Installation and maintenance teams need access to manuals and service experts. The Regal Kop-Flex team is building a complete digital customer experience (DCX) to support these goals.

WHAT ADJUSTMENTS IS REGAL MAKING IN RESPONSE?

We have embraced smart manufacturing via Perceptiv monitoring and diagnostics. Our team utilizes remote monitoring for some customer critical equipment, providing real-time alerts and monthly performance reports. Integrating all a facility’s mechanical components is possible, and we are evaluating the cost benefits and overall ROI of doing so. For some, having their critical equipment monitored is enough, while others want to integrate our components into their existing smart ecosystem.

For example, we have been gathering data from couplings that allows plant operators to make better maintenance decisions by monitoring performance trends with the Kop-Flex Powerlign torque monitoring system. It allows users to minimize emissions and fuel costs by tracking performance trends in connected equipment. This system can be purchased new with couplings or retrofitted to existing Kop-Flex or other brand couplings.

Our Perceptiv intelligence group uses an array of torque monitoring solutions for online monitoring, predictive maintenance and failure analysis. This includes the use of augmented reality tools. Additionally, there is definitely a trend to have spares for all critical equipment. It minimizes downtime if you have a spare coupling to hand instead of having one shipped. Some customers send the main coupling back to our Kop-Flex team for recertification.

WHAT NEW PRODUCTS OR SERVICES ARE YOU OFFERING?

Regal continues to expand Perceptiv on-site and remote monitoring and diagnostics to help our customers install and monitor equipment 24/7 or as needed. These tools save money by diagnosing potential problems before they happen. Examples include torque monitoring, vibration observation, and motor current signal analysis.

The Regal Tag-It Program powered by Perceptiv intelligence is an asset management platform to view details on mechanical and electrical assets in operation and reduce redundant or obsolete inventory. The program creates a path for continuous facility improvement by enabling faster maintenance and simplifying the MRO procurement process. In addition, users can easily add Perceptiv wireless monitoring to keep an eye on critical equipment. This 24/7 monitoring technology will help customers to increase equipment reliability and maximize production. The combination of hardware, software and “humanware” provides a new way for users to interact with Regal products and their equipment. All of this helps customers to harness the power of IoT in their facilities.

WHAT IS YOUR RECERTIFICATION PROGRAM?

We expanded our coupling recertification program to repair, rebuild, and recertify couplings removed from service to API 671 standards. This allows our customers to have a lower-cost recertification coupling available for future planned outages or emergencies. Customers can recertify their disc, diaphragm, and gear couplings for up to 50% savings from the cost a new item. Ship the used/worn coupling to one of Regal’s worldwide repair facilities, where they will be disassembled and undergo a non-invasive cleaning. Evaluation determines the material integrity and flexible elements, then we remove and replace any hardware, if necessary. They are then reassembled and rebalanced in accordance with API 671 or original OEM specifications. After a final inspection, they are returned to the customer within 4 weeks.

We also offer a Max-C resilient coupling that provides damping for applications with shock loading or cyclic torques. The Max-C can be mated to disc or diaphragm couplings to tune the drive train. They are frequently used on synchronous and variable frequency drive motors.