A digital "stethoscope" for monitoring equipment

July 20, 2012
An intelligent diagnostic system from Siemens can monitor the condition of mechanical equipment just by analyzing the noises it makes. The system's sensors listen to machine noises in the same way that a doctor listens to a patient's heart and lungs. The system learns to tell the difference between normal and faulty operation by analyzing noises and vibrations. The sensors it requires are simple, and the system can be used on many different kinds of machines and equipment. Three prototypes of STEVE (Siemens Tremor EValuation Equipment) — as the Siemens' researchers have dubbed their system — are currently undergoing testing in power plants in Morocco and the U.S., as well as at Siemens' gas turbine test center in Berlin.

An intelligent diagnostic system from Siemens can monitor the condition of mechanical equipment just by analyzing the noises it makes. The system's sensors listen to machine noises in the same way that a doctor listens to a patient's heart and lungs. The system learns to tell the difference between normal and faulty operation by analyzing noises and vibrations. The sensors it requires are simple, and the system can be used on many different kinds of machines and equipment. Three prototypes of STEVE (Siemens Tremor EValuation Equipment) - as the Siemens' researchers have dubbed their system - are currently undergoing testing in power plants in Morocco and the U.S., as well as at Siemens' gas turbine test center in Berlin.

Many technical facilities, such as power plants, are so complex that it isn't possible to continuously check all of the running machines without leaving a few gaps in the process. If there is a breakdown, the replacement of critical components such as turbines, generators, transformers, and important support systems is very complicated and can cost hundreds of thousands of euros. Power companies contract Siemens Energy to operate around 25 worldwide, with a combined capacity of more than 15 . It is important for Siemens to be able to guarantee the highest possible operational availability of these facilities. 

As a result, experts from Siemens Energy cooperated with the global research department Corporate Technology (CT) in Princeton to develop the mobile monitoring system. STEVE registers malfunctions before they can cause an interruption in operations, thus reducing down time. It is equipped with coin-sized sensors that can be affixed at various places on just about every machine. When STEVE identifies an abnormality, specialists from Siemens can assist operators at the plant with their analysis by cell phone. 

The system detects noises, or rather structure-borne sounds, at a rate of almost one million measurements per second - that's 25 times faster than the human ear. Additionally, STEVE is programmed to "learn" which machine noises and vibrations are characteristic of different operational states. After a data collection phase of about one week, STEVE can tell the difference between noises and vibrations that are normal and those that indicate a malfunction. The system is mobile, weatherproof, and easily transferable from one component to another, so it can periodically take measurements on many technical devices. Because of STEVE's ability to learn, it can be installed on practically any machine that emits vibrations.  

Explore further: Briefs: Siemens supports Infineon's Malaysia plant

Related Stories

Efficiency record of combined cycle power plant

May 24, 2011

A new Siemens gas turbine operated in a combined cycle with a steam turbine in Irsching, Bavaria, has set a world record for efficiency, making it an outstanding example of green technology. The net efficiency of 60.75 percent ...

Smart software for self-regulating smart grid

May 24, 2011

Siemens and the utility company Allgauer Uberlandwerk (AUW) in the city of Kempten, Germany, are testing the smart grids of the future. The tests focus on optimized power distribution and the use of a self-organizing energy ...

Siemens makes US acquisition in smart grid sector

December 5, 2011

German engineering giant Siemens said Monday it has agreed to buy eMeter, a US-based data management specialist, in a bid to enhance its position in the field of so-called smart grids.

Virtual power plants for renewable energies

April 27, 2012

Siemens recently put two virtual power plants into operation. Virtual power plants are networks of several small power stations that are run like a single system. One of the new virtual power plants enables the Munich municipal ...

Lausward power plant to break three world records

July 16, 2012

Siemens is to build a combined cycle gas turbine power plant with an electrical output of 595 megawatts at the Lausward location in Düsseldorf. That's a new world record for a single combined cycle block.

Recommended for you

Sydney makes its mark with electronic paper traffic signs

July 28, 2015

Visionect, which is in the business of helping companies build electronic paper display products, announced that Sydney has launched e-paper traffic signs. The traffic signage integrates displays from US manufacturer E Ink ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.