The world’s largest power plant generator weighs 900 tons and the largest steam turbines are not much lighter. One would think that nothing could affect such mammoths. But that’s far from the truth because such systems are high-precision machinery. That’s why customers are extremely sensitive to any mishaps, such as exposure to salt water, that might occur once such equipment leaves its birthplaces at Siemens’ facilities in Mülheim an der Ruhr or Berlin.
Exposed to Salt Water in Transit? New Machinery Tracking Technology will Know
In the future, when Siemens generators and steam and gas turbines are shipped, they will be accompanied by data loggers that continuously monitor and report on their location and status.
With a view to tracking the path and documenting the conditions these valuable pieces of machinery are exposed to, Siemens’ Power and Gas Division has worked with an external supplier to develop a smart transport monitoring system called a “data logger.” The logger includes sensors that are magnetically attached to the machinery. The sensors constantly measure key parameters such as temperature, humidity, inclination, incident light, and pressure. Readings are transmitted via Bluetooth to a central unit inside the machinery’s shipping container that, in turn, forwards the data via mobile radio together with a GPS position to Mülheim and Berlin. In areas where there no mobile communications network is available, such as on the high seas, the data logger stores measurement results until a connection can be established.
The main aim of the use of data logger is to ensure that valuable machinery is constantly monitored while en route to customers – a process designed to detect unexpected incidents in real time, such as deviations from the planned route or damage to packaging. Data generated by the logger, helps Siemens decide whether an incident may affect a turbine or its components, and if associated steps should be taken.
The data can also supply valuable information even if everything goes smoothly during shipment. If deviations are detected, the data lets engineers identify locations or situations that may pose risks or that account for delays. In the latter case, logistics planners can select new routes for future shipments. The Siemens’ experts hope that the data logger will, on the whole, increase the reliability of shipments and, even more importantly, make them more transparent.
Improved Batteries and Security
Siemens procures the data logger from a company that specializes in mobile sensors. The partners jointly increased the unit’s service life and used an encryption system to optimize data security. In the basic version, which is designed for shipments, the batteries now last for up to 24 months instead of four to six months as was originally the case. The system takes measurements every 30 minutes and the sensors report any rise above or drop below certain threshold values in real time.
The information is evaluated by software that uses diagrams to depict the development of measured values. If a predefined threshold value is exceeded, an e-mail containing all of the relevant information is automatically sent to Siemens so that countermeasures can be initiated as quick as possible.