A Clear View Ahead for Industrial Gear Units. DriveRadar from SEW-EURODRIVE

MC A Clear View Ahead for Industrial Gear Units Drive Radar SEW EURODRIVE 1b 400x275

August 23, 2022

By Krystie Johnston

Industrial gear units are used in many production activities worldwide, particularly in the heavy industries such as construction, mining, oil and gas, and industrial machinery. These applications require significant mechanical work from the gear units and demand mechanical products that can get the work done reliably. These industrial applications are expensive to operate. Insufficient equipment is not an option.

Considerable investments are made with respect to industrial gear units, and given this expense, it is reasonable that the owner or operator expects excellent system availability and improved productivity. It is not always possible to predict downtime and be able to prevent unscheduled maintenance. What if there was a way to get a clear view ahead, a way to achieve proactive maintenance and avoid costly breakdowns and even preventative maintenance? What if this solution was possible for not only new industrial gear units, but existing ones as well?

DriveRadar from SEW-EURODRIVE is that solution and more. This condition monitoring system records and assesses data from the gear unit to evaluate its current condition, provide forecasts to predict changes, and serves as a basis for predictive maintenance. Mechatronics Canada had the opportunity to sit down with Andy Chen, Product Manager – Large Industrial Gearing at SEW-EURODRIVE and ask him about DriveRadar. After a thorough question and answer and live demonstration, we bring to you an overview of DriveRadar: condition-based component monitoring and maintenance forecasts for new and existing gear units.

The Demand for Condition Monitoring Is Increasing Tremendously

What is DriveRadar?

DriveRadar is a condition monitoring system developed by SEW-EURODRIVE that can digitally record and automatically analyze gearbox data. The analysis results can be used to evaluate the current condition, as well as to predict the future state of the gearbox. As of today, DriveRadar is available for the Industrial Gearboxes from SEW-EURODRIVE, and consists of the following fours elements: Sensors, Edge Processing Unit (EPU), SEW-EURODRIVE Cloud, and a web-based human-interacting platform called “IoT Suite”. The full description of this system is “DriveRadar IoT Suite for Industrial Gearboxes”. We will use the abbreviation “DRIG” in the rest of the article.

How does it work? 

MC A Clear View Ahead for Industrial Gear Units Drive Radar SEW EURODRIVE 6 300x250

Sensors installed on the gear unit record physical variables that are relevant to the operation of the industrial gearboxes (vibration, oil level, oil temperature, ambient temperature, and input speed). The recorded data is then automatically evaluated and interpreted.

Continuous monitoring of the measured values ensures that the condition of the gearbox is transparent at all times. The underlying analysis procedures assign abnormalities directly to the affected components, display the trend progression, and allow critical conditions to be predicted.

“If a change in condition occurs, the user is informed immediately via email or smartphone App. Options for independent troubleshooting and the recommended SEW-EURODRIVE services are displayed. With DRIG, maintenance can be planned in advance, and unexpected down-time can be avoided.”

Condition Monitoring and Maintenance Concepts

What is “condition monitoring” and “predictive maintenance,” and why are they important?

As it literally suggests, “Condition Monitoring” refers to monitoring the condition of an asset (in our case, an industrial gearbox). “Predictive maintenance”, on the other hand, is a maintenance strategy driven by predicting an asset’s condition. Compared to “Breakdown maintenance”, which refers to no maintenance until the asset breaks, or to “Preventative maintenance”, which refers to maintaining the asset on a regular basis regardless of its condition, “Predictive maintenance” is believed to be more cost-effective and less labor-intensive. “Condition monitoring” is a pre-requisite of “Predictive maintenance”.

“Maintenance in industrial facilities is faced with continuously increasing demands. At the same time, the re-staffing of experienced personnel is difficult and cost intensive. The resulting loss of knowledge and cost pressure increases the need for automated, intelligent maintenance systems. A good maintenance ensures plant availability and thus reduces production downtime costs and, by extension, a company’s overall costs.”

MC A Clear View Ahead for Industrial Gear Units Drive Radar SEW EURODRIVE 4 300x250

New technologies can reduce maintenance costs. This makes it possible for companies to choose a cost-optimal maintenance strategy that results in a minimum total cost. Predictive maintenance is a lever for targeted cost optimization, and the prerequisite for this is condition monitoring of the relevant machinery and equipment.

The more comprehensive and precise the functionality of the condition monitoring solution, the greater the relief for maintenance. Under preventative maintenance, day-to-day work involves much less on information gathering and on dealing with unexpected downtime.

The condition monitoring system indicates what needs to be done and when, and continuously adapts the necessary measures to the condition of the assets. With the system’s support, an on-site maintenance crew can concentrate fully on the actual activity and the resources required. Predictive maintenance actions are significantly supported by systems that offer forecasts to the user.

“With condition monitoring, it is possible to prepare for upcoming events. The working method can then evolve from reactive maintenance to predictive maintenance.”

The Potential of Smart Maintenance

What are the benefits of using DriveRadar? What, if any, are the drawbacks?

The customer can monitor the gearboxes much more efficiently (and in many cases, more cost-effectively), since DriveRadar makes all important gearbox characteristics transparent, comprehensible, and accessible. If a measured variable changes, the condition of the gearbox is automatically evaluated by the system and a warning is generated if necessary. This means that the customer can either check the digital platform (the IoT Suite) regularly or wait for the system to contact them when an anomaly occurs.

“The customer receives the notifications via the IoT Suite smartphone app or emails. Each notification contains a brief description of the warning and provides a recommended action. The customer can then take care of the anomaly in a timely manner, or contact SEW-EURODRIVE directly from the web app for available services.”

DriveRadar does not impede any function of the monitored asset. It does consume electricity to keep the electronics operated, but the amount is insignificant compared to what will be required to run the industrial gearboxes. DriveRadar requires little space, and can be installed either directly on the gearbox, or nearby. There is a cost associated with the hardware and the software. The former is one-time, and the latter is an on-going subscription.  

Is DriveRadar exclusive to SEW-EURODRIVE’s products? What other manufacturer’s industrial gear units can it monitor? When will it become available for standard gear units?

“DriveRadar can be used to monitor other brands of gearboxes, as long as they are helical or bevel helical type. Currently, only the version for Industrial Gearboxes is available. In the near future, DriveRadar will also be able to monitor the standard gear units.”

DriveRadar IoT Suite: The Web Application in Detail – Your New Maintenance Dashboard

What is the “SEW-EURODRIVE Cloud” and where is it? Where are the data stored, and is it secure?

The data is transferred directly from the industrial gearboxes to the SEW-EURODRIVE Cloud via LTE. This means no intervention with the customer network. All the data are processed and interpreted at SEW-EURODRIVE in an in-house ISO/IEC 27001 certified data center.

“The data is transferred between the gear unit and the cloud via a secure connection using HTTPS. In addition to the measurement data, the transmission file contains a certificate for secure authentication and authorization of the hardware in the cloud. Thus, the channel is secured, and the identification of the hardware is also ensured.”

MC A Clear View Ahead for Industrial Gear Units Drive Radar SEW EURODRIVE 2 725x300

The following are more details regarding IT security:

  • •SEW-EURODRIVE operates a dedicated IoT certificate infrastructure in its own data centers.
  • •Encrypted communication between the EPU and SEW-EURODRIVE Cloud according to TLS version 1.2.
  • •Identification of the edge devices via certificate-based SSL client authentication:
    • •The identity certificate as a “lifetime device credential” is designed for a long service life and uses ECC keys with 384-bit key length and SHA-384 signature.
    • •The short-lived operational certificates (for authentication during data transmission) use RSA keys with 2048-bit key length and SHA-256 signatures.
    • •Periodic renewal of operational certificates is done automatically using the EST protocol over an M2M mobile network.

What is the Edge Processing Unit (EPU), and how does it work?

“An EPU is a micro-computer that is in close proximity to the points of data collection (sensors). It is connected to the sensors via cables, and its main function is to collect, refine, encrypt, and transmit the collected data to the SEW-EURODRIVE Cloud for further analysis.”

There are multiple benefits the EPU can offer:

  • •Higher data quality due to shorter cable length required for the sensors.
  • •Lower data usage due to refinement of the collected data before transmission.
  • •Better security due to data encryption before transmission.

In addition, the implementation of the OPC UA interface in the EPU provides a flexible interface to the customer system on the field level. OPC UA (short for Open Platform Communications United Architecture) is a data exchange standard for industrial communication (machine-to-machine or PC-to-machine communication). The open interface standard has built-in security mechanisms and is independent of the programming language and the operating system of the application. The OPC UA server provided on the EPU offers the possibility to integrate process data and status information of the industrial gear unit within the scope of the communication protocol. The only requirement for this purpose is that the OPC UA protocol is supported and an OPC UA client is provided in the customer system.

Your Added Value of a Comprehensive Solution

What kind of service and support does SEW-EURODRIVE offer to customers of DriveRadar? If they notice there is a failure, what are the recommended next steps?

MC A Clear View Ahead for Industrial Gear Units Drive Radar SEW EURODRIVE 5 300x250

Each warning message communicated to the customers will come with a recommended action from SEW-EURODRIVE, which can be seen on the digital platform (IoT Suite). These actions include Expert Report, Endoscopy, Oil Analysis, Repair, Spare Parts Service and Retrofit.

“With a few clicks, customers can send a request to the corresponding SEW-EURODRIVE local service rep and wait to be contacted within a reasonably short timeframe.”

How does DriveRadar improve the life of the industrial gearboxes?

The operating variables DriveRadar collects are vital signs of a gearbox’s overall health, and by continuously monitoring these variables and making prediction of their future trends, the gearbox’s lifespan can be improved.

The following are some examples:

Vibration

Before any bearing or gearing fails, its vibration signal will start to deviate from normal value. This can take place days, weeks, or even months prior to the failure. By spotting this deviation at the early days, inspection and repair can be scheduled to prevent a large-scale failure of the gearbox. 

Temperature

There are various causes that can contribute to an abnormal operating temperature of a gearbox, these include: wrong type or quantity of oil, contamination, misalignment, overload, change of environment, failing components…etc. By continuously monitoring the gearbox temperature, many of these causes can be identified and eliminated before they result in any permanent damage.

Oil Level

Too much and too little oil are both detrimental to the gearbox. That is why monitoring the oil level can contribute to long service life of the asset. This is especially true in the case where there is a gradual oil leak at a spot that is hard to be identified by the operator.

MC A Clear View Ahead for Industrial Gear Units Drive Radar SEW EURODRIVE 8 725x400

With the collected data, DriveRadar is also able to perform the following:

  • •Predict the remaining lives of the gearing and bearings.
  • •Predict the next oil change based on usage-dependent calculation of oil condition.
  • •Calculate the oil viscosity based on the recorded oil temperature and the type of oil used

Andy, what is the take-away message you want customers to know about DriveRadar?

“DriveRadar provides SEW’s customers with many valuable insights regarding drive technology. It supports the maintenance personnel in preventing unplanned downtime of critical assets, and can thus increase their contribution to the company’s success.”

Thank you, Andy, for taking the time to discuss DriveRadar with us and sharing your knowledge. And a shout out to the rest of the very talented and dedicated team at SEW-EURODRIVE who helped to facilitate this article. 

SEW EURODRIVE Logo 300x150

To learn more about DriveRadar, download the Brochure by clicking here or visit the DriveRadar Product Page by clicking here

Related Articles


Changing Scene

  • Westburne and Kinova Announce Groundbreaking Partnership

    Westburne and Kinova Announce Groundbreaking Partnership

    Westburne is thrilled to announce a groundbreaking partnership that is set to redefine the landscape of collaborative robotics. Westburne has joined forces with Kinova, a global provider in robotics innovation, to deliver cutting-edge solutions that will transform industries and elevate Westburne’s commitment to technological advancement. This partnership marks a significant milestone in Westburne’s journey towards… Read More…

  • ABB Appoints Morten Wierod to Succeed Björn Rosengren as CEO

    ABB Appoints Morten Wierod to Succeed Björn Rosengren as CEO

    The ABB Board of Directors has appointed Morten Wierod as Chief Executive Officer. He will take office on August 1, 2024, and succeed Björn Rosengren, who will step down from his position as Chief Executive Officer effective July 31, 2024, and retire as of December 31, 2024. From August 1, 2024, until the end of… Read More…


Sponsored Content
The Easy Way to the Industrial IoT

The way to the Industrial IoT does not have to be complicated. Whether access to valuable data is required or new, data-driven services are to be generated, Weidmuller enables its customers to go from data to value the easy way. Weidmuller’s comprehensive and cutting-edge IIoT portfolio applies to greenfield and brownfield applications. Weidmuller offers components and solutions from data acquisition, data pre-processing, data communication and data analysis.

Visit Weidmuller’s Industrial IoT Portfolio.


ADVANCED Motion Controls Takes Servo Drives to New Heights (and Depths) with FlexPro Extended Environment Product Line

Advanced Motion Controls is proud to announce the addition of six new CANopen servo drives with Extended Environment capabilities to their FlexPro line. These new drives join AMC’s existing EtherCAT Extended Environment FlexPro drives, making the FlexPro line the go-to solution for motion control applications in harsh environments.

Many motion control applications take place in conditions that are less than ideal, such as extreme temperatures, high and low pressures, shocks and vibrations, and contamination. Electronics, including servo drives, can malfunction or sustain permanent damage in these conditions.

Read More


Service Wire Co. Announces New Titles for Key Executives

Bruce Kesler and Mark Gatewood have been given new titles and responsibilities for Service Wire Co.

Bruce Kesler has assumed the role of Senior Director – Business Development. Bruce will be responsible for Service Wire’s largest strategic accounts and our growing Strategic Accounts Team.

Mark Gatewood has been promoted to the role of Vice President – Sales & Marketing. In this role, Gatewood will lead the efforts of Service Wire Company’s entire sales and marketing organization in all market verticals.

Read More


Tri-Mach Announces the Purchase of an Additional 45,000 sq ft. Facility

Tri-Mach Elmira Facility

Recently, Tri-Mach Inc. was thrilled to announce the addition of a new 45,000 sq ft. facility. Located at 285 Union St., Elmira, ON, this facility expands Tri-Mach’s capabilities, allowing them to better serve the growing needs of their customers.

Positioning for growth, this additional facility will allow Tri-Mach to continue taking on large-scale projects, enhance product performance testing, and provide equipment storage for their customers. The building will also be the new home to their Skilled Trades Centre of Excellence.

Read More


JMP Parent Company, CONVERGIX Acquires AGR Automation, Expanding Global Reach

Convergix Automation Solutions has completed the acquisition of AGR Automation (“AGR”), a UK-based provider of custom, high-performance automation design and systems integration primarily to the life sciences industry.

Following Convergix’s acquisitions of JMP Solutions in August 2021 and Classic Design in February 2022, AGR marks the third investment in Crestview’s strategy to build Convergix into a diversified automation solutions provider targeting the global $500+ billion market, with a particular focus on the $70 billion global systems integration and connectivity segments. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Read More


Latest Articles

  • Helping McMaster University Adapt its Buildings for the Future

    Helping McMaster University Adapt its Buildings for the Future

    McMaster University is using technology to better control and manage its legacy thermal systems and create smarter buildings. Carmichael Engineering Ltd., a Canadian systems integrator, worked closely with ABB Canada’s experts and its highly adaptable smart building platform, ABB Cylon, to improve energy efficiency, enhance user adaptability, and leverage innovative technologies in locations across campus. Read More…

  • FLIR’s Thermal Camera Technology: A Crucial Component in Industrial Settings

    FLIR’s Thermal Camera Technology: A Crucial Component in Industrial Settings

    Thermal imaging technologies like the ones by FLIR improve safety, operational efficiency, and cost savings in many automated and industrial applications. By capturing the infrared radiation emitted by an object or process, it identifies thermal anomalies that warrant further investigation by experts. Today, thermography is more sophisticated and accessible than ever, making is easy for… Read More…