Smart sensor technology is helping avoid costly clean room closures by indicating any potential issues with powertrain equipment within air handling units (AHUs), cooling towers, and other heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system components.
Two sealed and self-contained AHUs each feature a fan which is critical to ensuring precise temperature and humidity control inside Hitachi ABB Power Grids’ power semiconductor clean rooms in Lenzburg, Switzerland. Manufacturing thin silicon wafers in order to produce highly sensitive power semiconductor devices and modules requires a dust-free environment. Even the slightest contamination or environmental change can ruin the entire production.
Both AHUs run on partial load. If one unit fails or needs repair, the facility can ramp up the other unit to ensure continuous operation. Fitted to each of the fan motors is an ABB AbilityTM Smart Sensor to remotely track its condition.
“Most of the fans are housed in self-contained air handling units or cooling towers,” says Thomas Keusch, Facility Manager at the Hitachi ABB Power Grids semiconductor plant in Lenzburg, Switzerland. “Direct access is not possible without shutting down the air handling unit. Being able to monitor the condition of these motors means we are better prepared to predict and schedule our maintenance needs.”
Fifty five other motors on fans, compressors and pumps, along with five variable speed drives are also enabled for remote condition monitoring. This allows the plant to remotely check the operation and health of the entire powertrain through an integrated, one-stop portal. With such data, system efficiency can be optimized, and maintenance activities planned according to actual needs rather than generic schedules. Maintenance costs can be cut, and unplanned downtime avoided.
“With integrated monitoring and analytics of all the powertrain assets, our customers can focus more on what really matters for them – manufacturing first-class power semiconductors,” says Ronald Wenger, Digital Leader, Motion business in Switzerland.