Digital Transformation of High Temperature Fan Motors

Predictive Maintenance for High-Temperature Fan Motors

Plant Name:    Advanced material science manufacturer

Industry:         Heat treatment

Product(s):     Advanced and specialty materials 


Photo Credit - Pyradia - Industrial Ovens and FurnacesHeat treatment processes use ovens or industrial furnaces to alter the molecular structure and physical properties of materials, such as those in advanced composites and metals. To ensure that the most complicated materials meet strict specifications, “heat-treat” processes are performed according to highly specialized recipes—and the process cannot be interrupted.

In the U.S., an advanced material science company uses several industrial furnaces to heat treat products such as large aircraft parts and brakes, which are composed of advanced composites and metals. Motors on top of the furnaces operate fans inside them to circulate the heated air in the chamber and ensure a uniform temperature according to the product recipe. 


Maintaining the reliable performance of a furnace fan allows operators to avoid wasting large batches, which sometimes require days of heat-treat processing.

Challenges arise from the vulnerability of the fans to unpredictable failures. Typical root causes are increasing vibration in motor bearings and running the fans at the fringes of their specified operating ranges. Heat-treat operators can track temperature and vibration either by handheld monitoring devices or via sensors. Both methods provide early anomaly detection that enables operators to address equipment issues before they interrupt the process or otherwise impact the batch quality.

Their locations on top of the furnaces can also make monitoring fan operations difficult. At the U.S. advanced materials company, the fans sit atop four-story-high furnaces, which prevent monitoring with traditional, portable handheld devices.
Other challenges for heat-treat operators include the ability to efficiently maintain records of temperature and vibration data, determine trends in the data, and accurately predict problems before they arise. 


Recently, the U.S. advanced materials company recognized the need for a method to monitor the furnace circulation fans throughout the facility. The procurement team selected Yokogawa’s Sushi XS770A Wireless Vibration Sensor, an industrial IoT solution. After a quick plug-and-play sensor installation, the Sushi Sensor will enable the customer to remotely determine if temperature or vibration pose a risk to any of the fans—located four stories up—and address issues before a failure occurs or effective temperature control is compromised.

The FM-approved Sushi Sensors measure vibration (velocity and acceleration) along the X, Y, and Z axes, generate a three-axis composite, and monitor the fan surface temperatures. Yokogawa factory-provisioned all the sensors before shipping them to the customer and integrated them into the GA10 data logging application software. This complete solution enables the process to completely realize the benefits of IoT technology. 

Easily programmable Sushi Sensors will transmit data to the GA10 software, which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to learn the characteristics of normal and expected operating conditions. The GA10 software can trigger alarms and send warnings when operations trend outside of a normal range. The information is automatically entered into an on-premise database that allows vibration trends to be viewed over time. Other companies using this solution have opted to store the data, instead, in the Cloud.
In addition to displaying trends, the GA10 software delivers a health score that is based on the vibration and temperature measurements made by the Sushi Sensors. The customer team will be able to act on that health score to investigate anomalies and determine the best actions to avoid risks to the heat-treat process.

Yokogawa can provide a full-scale implementation of heat-treat processes including solution design, factory provisioning of instruments, commissioning, and end-to-end support for the complete lifecycle of a furnace.

Key AdvantagesSushi Sensors

  • Plug-and-play installation, factory provisioning of certificates, and simple commissioning provide significant reductions in costs, implementation time, and risks.
  • Flexible solution with easy-to-add sensors simplifies changes and system expansions. 
  • Continuous remote monitoring of instruments and predictive analysis reduce risks of failure and improve scheduled maintenance. 
    GA10 Software


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