Waste-to-energy plant reduces reactive maintenance and improves energy output using smart sensors

Waste-to-energy plant reduces reactive maintenance and improves energy output using smart sensors

ABB Ability™ Smart Sensors from ABB are helping a waste-to-energy (WTE) plant optimize maintenance and energy output by predicting the likelihood of powertrain assets failing.

The installation follows a pilot study by Infraserv Höchst Prozesstechnik, the company responsible for maintaining rotating equipment and process analysis technology throughout Industriepark Höchst - a major chemical and pharmaceutical industrial park located near Frankfurt, Germany. The company was exploring smarter ways to ensure the operational uptime of the WTE plant’s motors, mounted bearings and pumps, in order to optimize the electricity and process steam output to the industrial park’s 120 production companies.

Depending on the asset being monitored, smart sensors gather temperature, vibration, motor speed, bearing index, frequency of starts/ stop, operating time and power consumed. The data is uploaded to the cloud via an ABB gateway or smartphone, analyzed and used to predict the condition of the asset.

"Sensor technology is an important part of our digital strategy and provides the basis for optimizing our maintenance potential," says Dirk-Harald Bestehorn, Head of Asset Management/Engineering at Infraserv Höchst Prozesstechnik.

“By looking into the detailed data of the powertrain assets, Infraserv Höchst Prozesstechnik can determine why, for instance, a bearing is showing signs of wear,” says ABB’s Sebastian Ceranski, Project Engineer Digital, Motion Germany. “It could be due to normal aging, misalignment of the motor shaft or overloading which leads to the premature wear of the balls within the bearings. With the appropriate response, countermeasures can be initiated to extend the life of the replacement bearings. For example, the right bearing lubricant can have a major influence.”

Maintenance can be planned based on actual demand rather than time intervals or operating hours. Unscheduled downtimes are prevented and the operating time extended.

"As part of our efforts to increase the sustainability and availability of the plant, while simultaneously reducing maintenance costs, we are currently testing a wide variety of sensors in field trials,” says Frank Lothar Unger, Managing Director of Infraserv Höchst Prozesstechnik GmbH.

The company’s vision is to retrieve reliable data from the assets, without the costly intervention of an experienced engineer and the need for high-precision analytical equipment. Using ABB Ability™ Smart Sensors to extract the data provides a low cost and rapid way for Infraserv to feed the data into its SAP system and output an easy-to-read report for the management of the WTE plant. The report contains the condition of a motor’s bearings, its likelihood of failure and identifies any excessive vibrations experienced by the motor.

“As a renowned motor manufacturer, ABB is open to requirements from the user community and for this reason Infraserv Höchst Prozesstechnik turned to ABB to help extract the meaningful data required,” says Unger.

  • More than 90 companies from the chemical and pharmaceutical industries are located in Industriepark Höchst. (Source: Infraserv GmbH & Co. Höchst KG)
  • The waste-to-energy plant in Industriepark Höchst is one of the largest of its kind in Germany. It supplies Industriepark Höchst with electricity and process steam, reducing the use of fossil fuels. (Source: Infraserv GmbH & Co. Höchst KG)
  • The ABB Ability™ Smart Sensor for motors is mounted directly on the motor. The multi-sensor system with a wireless communication interface collects and transmits precise measurement data. (Source: ABB)
  • The ABB Ability™ Smart Sensor enables the "health check" of bearings. (Source: ABB)


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