Manual relubrication of rolling bearings is still the norm in many areas of industry. Automatic lubricators are a big improvement on this, but they still require manual, route-based monitoring. Generally speaking, manual relubrication errors are one of the main causes of failure in rolling bearings. The bearing specialists at Schaeffler have solved this problem. They have developed OPTIME C1, an IoT solution for the relubrication of rolling bearings using intelligent, automatic lubricators.
The new system integrates with Schaeffler’s OPTIME app to reliably prevent incorrect lubrication due to using too much or too little lubricant, using the wrong lubricant, lubricant contamination, blocked bearing lubrication channels, or empty lubricators.
The system communicates with maintenance personnel via the OPTIME app, the web-based OPTIME dashboard, or, if required, via their own software tool, giving them an overview of all lubricators that have critical fill levels or lubricant supply problems. Thanks to its integrated temperature sensor, the system also provides an overview of all lubricators that are running at elevated temperatures.
With OPTIME C1, maintenance personnel no longer need to spend time on scheduled inspection runs or deal with complicated tables or software for planning relubrication in their plants. Instead, they can focus on targeted maintenance activities in response to automated notifications from the app. This takes a lot of the complexity out of lubrication management.
Simple and retrofittable: a system solution comprising just a few components
Each battery-powered OPTIME C1 unit is designed to be screwed on to a Schaeffler Concept 1 automated lubricator. The unit includes a communication module and a temperature sensor. The overall solution also includes a gateway and the OPTIME app. The OPTIME C1 units automatically connect the Concept 1 lubricators to form a mesh network. The mesh network captures and computes key operating data, such as the number of days remaining until the next lubricant refill, and sends it via the gateway to the Schaeffler cloud and then on to the OPTIME app.
It takes less than two minutes per lubrication point to install the components and configure them in the app. In this way, dozens of lubrication points on pumps, fans, compressors, machines, conveyor drives and the like can be fitted with OPTIME C1 in a very short space of time – which means they can be removed from the manual inspection schedule. The lubricators at these points are now intelligent, meaning the maintenance team only needs to attend to them when they actually require maintenance.
Schaeffler OPTIME C1 is an open system. It features an API that enables it to exchange data with existing maintenance tools. Relevant information is then provided to maintenance personnel via the OPTIME app, the web-based OPTIME dashboard, or, if required, via their own software tool.