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Should you wait until your plant starts sounding or looking "sick" before doing something about it? A plant breakdown can destroy long-term business relationships.To prevent this kind of major catastrophe, industrial automation supplier Rockwell Automation has a Web-based condition monitoring service that can alert the producer of a problem long before a plant breakdown occurs. The Reliability Online (ROL) system uses the operational efficiencies of the Internet for data transmission between the producer and Rockwell Automation.

The producer has two options for collecting data through the service. Portable systems use a handheld device with a portable transducer that can be placed on critical locations on the equipment for data acquisition and storage. For 24/7/365 monitoring, the producer would opt for the Enwatch surveillance service. A data-collection device equipped with a digital signal processor that captures high-speed analog data mounts near equipment. Most commonly it measures vibration, but it's also possible to measure speed and phase of moving parts or even process variables such as current or the temperature of a bearing. This system offers connectivity via Ethernet, so the producer could incorporate it into the plant network and access it through the Internet.

Rockwell Automation analysts can access a File Transfer Protocol (ftp) site and download the data. Enshare software statistically evaluates the data, can alert analysts of operating data that fall outside of a programmed range, and can integrate different measurements into graphic trend analysis reports. These operating data reports are stored on the ftp site in formats such as Microsoft Word or Adobe Acrobat Reader for the producer's review.