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Advanced Engineering 2021

NEC Birmingham(B40 1NT)

03/11/2021 - 04/11/2021

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Monitoring the health of cable car drive systems

Monitoring the health of cable car drive systems

By installing a total of 18 FAG SmartCheck condition monitoring systems on drive motors, gearboxes, drive pulleys and cable sheaves, a cable car operator is now able, for the first time, to monitor the health of all process-critical systems.

Today, cable cars are generally used as a means of transporting passengers, which means strict safety regulations apply. In one particular application, two cable cars have a maximum passenger capacity of 20 people per carriage. The carriages operate in parallel and travel at an average speed of 7km/h along two, 300-metre tracks. The carriages are pulled up a slope by a drive train, which is located in the upper station.

In order to ensure that safety requirements are met and that the cable cars enjoy smooth, uninterrupted operation, the operator required early warnings of any signs of wear or damage to rolling bearings and gear teeth. Previous condition monitoring solutions (both online and offline) were not able to reliably cover the entire spectrum of monitoring needs - from drive motors and gearboxes to pulleys and cable sheaves.

The operator turned to Schaeffler for a solution in the shape of the FAG SmartCheck condition monitoring system, which goes beyond the scope of previous approaches. FAG SmartCheck is an extremely compact device that can be used to monitor vibration and temperature, as well as a range of other machine and process-specific parameters such as train direction, speed and load. By monitoring these parameters, users are provided with a broad basis of information in real time, which enables the accurate assessment of machine condition.

Due to its self-learning ('Teach-In') mode, the device's alarm thresholds are adjusted automatically. After set up and commissioning, the unit operates autonomously. The relevant machine parameters are measured and saved continuously in the system, creating a substantial database of historical data over time.

On the cable car drive systems, 18 SmartCheck devices monitor a total of 36 components (bearings and gear teeth) located in the machine control rooms of both cable car upper stations. In order to ensure maximum safety, four additional sensor signals from the customer's control station are integrated to the FAG SmartCheck systems. As well as monitoring the vibration of rolling bearings and gear teeth, this enables the customer to measure the speed, temperature, load and direction of travel of the cable cars.

By using Power-over-Ethernet technology, it was also possible to reduce the customer's wiring effort. Additional signals are recorded and transmitted to the FAG SmartCheck systems via a central control unit. Customer-specific visualisation software was also implemented on the customer's control station PC using a 'traffic light' principle. By installing FAG SmartCheck devices, the cable car operator is kept informed at all times about the condition of the rolling bearings and gear teeth installed in all process-critical drive systems. The onset of damage is detected early, enabling the planning of repairs or maintenance, which significantly reduces unplanned downtime, while ensuring maximum safety of passengers.

Previously, there were very few opportunities for the operator to receive reliable information about the onset of any damage to bearings or gear teeth. Schaeffler provided support for the entire condition monitoring project, from initial project planning through to installation, commissioning and handover.

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