Compressed air plays an important role in industry. Many companies use compressed gas for fans, to operate tools or for painting work. Excellent availability and efficiency and the lowest possible costs are key factors here. Compressor manufacturers were therefore relatively early adopters of Industry 4.0: They have been using sensors to determine consumption for years, to better plan resource deployment.
Data analyses in the operations center
German manufacturer Kaeser (Hall 27, Stand E18) takes things a step further. Using specific software, the company not only collects a wide range of data in real time, but uses it via the Internet of Things to analyze and optimize the connected compressors. The machines send information every second on rotational speeds, temperatures and compressed air volumes to the Kaeser headquarters in Coburg, Germany, where it is analyzed, processed, linked to expert knowledge and delivered to various mobile devices known as the monitoring cockpits. From there the compressed air consumption can be dynamically adjusted.
This has a significant effect on energy consumption, as well as opening up opportunities for predictive maintenance – because the sensors installed in the devices not only measure values such as consumption and pressure, but also all relevant operating and environmental parameters. The data is sent to a central computer where it is processed through an expert knowledge database that helps recognize possible problems early and plan maintenance predictively. For customers this minimizes downtimes and unplanned maintenance, as well as reducing costs.
Finding malfunctions before they occur
"Before, our remote monitoring let us know that something wasn't working right maybe five minutes before the customer. Only as pressure in the customer system was already dropping did the first technicians get underway," says CEO Thomas Kaeser . "With smart data networking, today we can act much sooner."
Kaeser uses industry standards for its software, so that even other manufacturers' products can be monitored and managed. And the customer only pays for what they actually use. This has consequences. Because precise adjustment and control of compression systems is generally outside the scope of the user's expertise, Kaeser also offers "Air as a Service," or air on demand.
Better data, better products
This means that instead of procuring their own hardware, industrial customers just buy the service: air. The infrastructure remains under Kaeser's ownership. "Customers benefit from this kind of full-service contract, and not just because their compression systems have guaranteed high availability that way. They can also reduce lifecycle costs by up to 30 percent, because we can adapt the energy profile of the compressed air system to keep it consistently at optimal consumption levels," explains Erwin Ruppelt , Project Engineer for Compressed Air Technology at Kaeser.
For the manufacturer, this information also has an important advantage: Kaeser knows exactly when, where and how often which machines have problems. This knowledge flows into the development of new compressors. The more systems interact with each other in the global network of compressors, the greater the amount of data and the better the quality of products and service. And that brings value to the customer.
Discover the innovations heading for the market this year at HANNOVER MESSE. Learn how to integrate cutting-edge machine maintenance into your own company. Visit the Predictive Maintenance special event in Hall 19.