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Machine monitoring with smart sensors

Objective is up to 30 percent reduction in operating costs

  • With Bosch in lead role, partners on the AMELI 4.0 project are developing the industry sensors of the future
  • Modified MEMS sensors measure machinery noise to monitor operating status
  • System to work without need for external energy sources, preventing downtimes and improving maintenance

Stuttgart – Headed by Bosch, seven partners are collaborating on a project, called AMELI 4.0, to develop the sensor system of the future for connected manufacturing, or Industry 4.0. The system is intended to monitor machines and immediately detect deviations from their normal operating status. With the system’s help, factories can go a long way toward preventing machines from having unplanned downtimes. Instead of adhering to rigid maintenance intervals, companies can maintain their equipment precisely when it is needed. This approach is expected to cut the costs of maintaining, inspecting, and repairing machines by up to 30 percent. AMELI 4.0 is a research project aimed at improving the market position of German companies with regard to Industry 4.0. For this reason, it is being funded to the tune of 3.84 million euros by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as part of its “IKT 2020 – Research for Innovation” program.

Tough demands on sensors
Sensors play a key role in Industry 4.0 as the artificial “eyes and ears” of machines and workpieces, for which they capture information about condition and performance. To facilitate intelligent management and connectivity in manufacturing, the sensors have to collect and process huge amounts of data in real time. They also need to be as energy efficient as possible and be easy to integrate into complex production systems. The industry sensors currently in widespread use are limited in their usefulness for Industry 4.0. For many applications, they are not smart or flexible enough, consume too much energy, and are too expensive.

MEMS sensors for industry
To fulfill the objectives of the AMELI 4.0 research project, the researchers are turning to one of the key technologies of the connected world: MEMS sensors (MEMS stand for microelectromechanical systems). Even now, it is impossible to imagine cars and consumer electronics without MEMS sensors. They are the core component of the ESP® anti-skid system, for example, and also ensure that the display on a smartphone screen rotates when the device is turned. Compared to conventional industrial sensors, MEMS sensors are small, smart, energy efficient, and economical. However, in many respects they are not yet robust or powerful enough for the demands of an industrial environment. This means that some of the potential to apply condition monitoring in production systems is going untapped. The AMELI 4.0 research team plans to further develop MEMS sensors to make them suitable for industrial applications. Energy supply plays a major role here: the new system will not require either power cables or batteries. It is designed to be completely self-sufficient by generating the necessary power itself from the machines’ vibrations (energy harvesting).

The difference is in the sound
To monitor the machines, the new sensor system will measure two types of noise: structure-borne sound, meaning vibrations inside the machine, and acoustic sound, meaning noise emitted by the machine. When a machine is not working as planned, it vibrates and sounds different than it does when operating normally. The system compares the measured signals with stored profiles. It continues learning, and takes action only if the changes in the signals indicate a defect or wear and tear. As a result, in the future the sensor system will be able to detect when a machine needs maintenance or repair. In more complex systems, this smart evaluation can be handled by the gateway (or router as it is sometimes called), to which the sensors transmit their data, or the manufacturing facility’s computer network.

Research in the network
The AMELI 4.0 project brings together institutes and industry partners that are global leaders in their respective fields – sensor technology, systems and mechanical engineering, condition monitoring of machines, energy conversion, and microtechnology – in their efforts to drive innovations forward. Robert Bosch GmbH, the market leader for MEMS sensors, is spearheading the project. The other partners are Siemens AG, Hahn Schickard Gesellschaft, the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Systems and Design Technology IPK, Binder-Elektronik GmbH, Schaudt Mikrosa GmbH, and Stackforce GmbH. The name AMELI 4.0 stands for micro-electromechanical system for condition monitoring in Industry 4.0. Launched in December 2015, the project is scheduled to conclude at the end of 2018.

The research partners:
Robert Bosch GmbH
Siemens AG
Hahn-Schickard-Gesellschaft
Fraunhofer IPK
Binder-Elektronik GmbH
Schaudt Mikrosa GmbH
Stackforce GmbH

Contact person for press inquiries:
Dr. Manuel Thomä, phone: +49 711 811-6268

Bosch Sensortec GmbH is a fully owned subsidiary of Robert Bosch GmbH that is dedicated to delivering a complete portfolio of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) sensors and solutions that enable consumer electronics to be connected. Bosch Sensortec develops and markets a wide portfolio of MEMS sensors and solutions tailored for smartphones, tablets, wearable devices and IoT (Internet of Things) applications.

The product portfolio includes 3-axis acceleration, gyroscope and geomagnetic sensors, integrated 6- and 9-axis sensors, environmental sensors, and a comprehensive software portfolio. Since its foundation in 2005, Bosch Sensortec has emerged as the MEMS technology leader in the markets it addresses. Bosch has been both a pioneer and a global market leader in the MEMS sensor segment since 1995 and has, to date, sold more than 7 billion MEMS sensors. Bosch sensors can be found in three out of four smartphones worldwide.

For more information, go to www.bosch-sensortec.com, twitter.com/boschMEMS.

The Bosch Group is a leading global supplier of technology and services. It employs roughly 390,000 associates worldwide (as of December 31, 2016). The company generated sales of 73.1 billion euros in 2016. Its operations are divided into four business sectors: Mobility Solutions, Industrial Technology, Consumer Goods, and Energy and Building Technology. As a leading IoT company, Bosch offers innovative solutions for smart homes, smart cities, connected mobility, and connected manufacturing. It uses its expertise in sensor technology, software, and services, as well as its own IoT cloud, to offer its customers connected, cross-domain solutions from a single source. The Bosch Group’s strategic objective is to deliver innovations for a connected life. Bosch improves quality of life worldwide with products and services that are innovative and spark enthusiasm. In short, Bosch creates technology that is “Invented for life.” The Bosch Group comprises Robert Bosch GmbH and its roughly 440 subsidiaries and regional companies in some 60 countries. Including sales and service partners, Bosch’s global manufacturing and sales network covers nearly every country in the world. The basis for the company’s future growth is its innovative strength. At 120 locations across the globe, Bosch employs some 59,000 associates in research and development.

Additional information is available online at www.bosch.com, iot.bosch.com, www.bosch-press.com, www.twitter.com/BoschPresse.