December 9, 2019

Handheld vs online condition monitoring

Device in Motor Control Cabinet

Although the practical differences between handheld and online condition monitoring (CM) might seem obvious, the way in which each method is used can differ significantly. This article will discuss the common use cases of both handheld and online CM.

Summary of practical differences between handheld and online CM

Simply put, handheld CM involves the use of a handheld sensor, which is applied to a machine when necessary to determine the condition of the machine, and ultimately determine when maintenance must be scheduled.

Online CM requires sensors to be installed permanently (either on the asset itself or near the asset) - and provides real-time insights into the health of the motor.

The handheld CM use case

An important initial point to make is that handheld CM typically offers a less complete picture of asset health, and so is often applied to assets of medium criticality. The reason that it offers a less complete picture is that by definition, readings are taken at intervals instead of continuously. And fewer readings translate into a less-precise picture of the asset health. If the assets that need to be inspected are far apart, in an ATEX zone, in a hazardous location or in a difficult to reach place, then this can result in even fewer readings being taken. Whether this incomplete picture provides appropriate protection against unplanned downtime is determined largely by the criticality of an asset (and the downtime costs associated with that asset), and as such an incomplete picture is typically applied to assets with a medium criticality-level.

As well as monitoring assets of medium criticality, handheld CM is also a popular monitoring method for assets that do not run regularly. If an asset only runs half the year (for example the motor powering a ski lift), then readings may only need to be taken for half of the year. So it may not make financial sense to install permanent online CM on assets that only run periodically (however, this obviously depends on the criticality of the asset when it is running).

The online CM use case

In comparison with handheld CM, online CM provides a much fuller picture of asset health. As online CM involves the use of permanently installed sensors, it is used to automatically take regular measurements from the asset without needing to dispatch an engineer to inspect the asset. This in turn means developing faults can be quickly detected and resolved before unplanned downtime occurs. It follows that online CM is often deployed on high criticality assets, where preventing unplanned downtime is a priority.

Online CM comes in a number of different forms, and Online Vibration Analysis and Motor Current Signature Analysis (MCSA) are among the most popular forms. Although they are both online, they themselves have different use cases.

For example, Online Vibration Analysis is used to monitor assets located in hospitable environments. This is because vibration based systems require sensors to be installed on the asset itself. If the asset environment is particularly hazardous (think about a conveyor in the hot roller table in a steel mill), then the sensors themselves can be damaged, which can disrupt your data flow and could even result in a missed fault alarm.

Conversely, MCSA based systems are suited to all environments, and excel in situations where assets are located in hazardous environments. MCSA based systems measure current and voltage signals from within the Motor Control Cabinet, which is a dry and hospitable place for sensor deployment. This means that regardless of the location of the asset, the sensor is able to provide reliable motor measurements without being damaged by the environment around it. And because MCSA typically detects 20-30% more failures when compared to Online Vibration Analysis, it is no wonder that MCSA is the fastest-growing monitoring technology in the industry today.

Which is best for my use case?

To determine the right type of CM for your use case, it is worth discussing your requirements with a CM supplier. If you would like to learn more about the different types of CM in the short-term, download the Condition Monitoring Comparison Guide.

November 11, 2019

Dutch consortium aims to make 40% of the world’s electricity consumption more efficient

Leiden -  The Institute for Sustainable Process Technology together with Nouryon, Vopak, Semiotic Labs, TPA Adviseurs and the Universiteit Utrecht's Copernicus Institute have received a grant to develop technology that reduces energy waste from industrial AC motors. AC motors consume roughly 40% of the world’s electric energy resources. The consortium will develop algorithms that analyse electrical waveforms in order to provide asset owners with the insights needed to reduce energy consumption by 15% to 30%, without compromising on output.

Frans van den Akker, Director Sustainability at ISPT: “The goal of ISPT is to promote sustainable practices in the process industry. To that end, we will work with asset owners and technology providers on developing both tools and practices that enable the reduction of energy waste. The reality of the global economy also mandates that these technologies improve sustainability without compromising output performance. We believe this project will create such a tool: It provides the insights that are required for energy reduction as well as increases in  system performance. A win for the environment, for the production manager and for the CFO”.

Semiotic Labs have developed the first condition monitoring solution to offer efficiency improvement insights, paving the way forward for sustainability improvements across a number of clients.

SAM4 by Semiotic Labs measures current and voltage signals to detect developing faults in AC motors and rotating equipment such as pumps, conveyors and compressors up to 4 months in advance of the fault causing a failure. The motor data has now been reapplied to detect inefficiencies in industrial processes. SAM4 can now offer the insights needed to increase electrical asset efficiency by 15-30%.

Simon Jagers - Founder of Semiotic Labs - “Sustainability is a crucial part of modern industry, and our tool will enable organizations to drastically reduce electrical energy consumption. Around 40% of global electrical energy consumption comes from the use of industrial AC motors, and the insights offered by SAM4 can help our clients make a big dent in that number. Together, we can develop technology that helps to reduce the world’s energy consumption in a meaningful way.”

Working alongside partners Vopak and Nouryon, Semiotic Labs is continuously testing new ways to provide even greater efficiency improvement insights.

Leo Brand, CIO at Vopak - “Sustainability is high on our list of priorities, and the reduction of electricity consumption is a crucial part of that. Integrating SAM4 into our critical processes is an important step in realising our energy efficiency targets.”

Marco Waas, Director RD&I and Technology at Nouryon, “SAM4 gives our maintenance staff the insights they need to identify which processes in our factory are not running as efficiently as possible. This means we can focus our efficiency improvements on processes where we can make the greatest impact on energy reduction. The technology, which is part of the company’s Industry 4.0 Program, is initially being tested at several of the company’s sites in the Netherlands and Germany.”

The scalability of the solution has also meant that a large deployment can take place in a cost-efficient way. Traditional condition monitoring requires sensor installation directly on the asset, which is an issue when the assets are located in ATEX Zones, hard to reach places or hazardous locations. SAM4 sensors are installed inside the Motor Control Cabinet, meaning that SAM4 can be installed and scaled quickly and cheaply.

Together with Vopak and Nouryon and a number of other partners, Semiotic Labs are rolling out a solution that will make a significant difference to world energy consumption.

About ISPT

We believe that radical change can be achieved through technological innovation and cooperation. As an active and open innovation platform for sustainable process technology we connect stakeholders from different sectors and disciplines. At ISPT, Industry, SME’s, scientists and governmental bodies find the inspirational and trusted environment where they can optimally work together to stimulate break through innovations. Together we aim to realize a circular and carbon neutral industry in 2050.

About Semiotic Labs

Semiotic Labs was established in 2015 with the aim of making maintenance 100% predictable. From Leiden, 24 Data Scientists, Software Developers and Technical Specialists are working on SAM4 - the predictive maintenance solution for AC motors and rotating equipment. Semiotic Labs is active in various industries and works with customers such as Vopak, Nouryon, ArcelorMittal, Tata Steel, Schiphol, and Engie.

About Vopak

Royal Vopak is the world's largest independent tank storage company. Vopak operates a worldwide network of terminals at strategic locations along important trade routes. With more than 400 years of history and a strong focus on safety and sustainability, Vopak provides safe, clean and efficient storage and handling of liquid bulk products and gases for their customers. In this way Vopak enables the delivery of products that are vital for our economy and daily life, ranging from chemicals, oils, gases and LNG to biofuels and Veg Oils.

About Nouryon

We are a global specialty chemicals leader. Markets worldwide rely on our essential chemistry in the manufacture of everyday products such as paper, plastics, building materials, food, pharmaceuticals, and personal care items. Building on our nearly 400-year history, the dedication of our 10,000 employees, and our shared commitment to business growth, strong financial performance, safety, sustainability, and innovation, we have established a world-class business and built strong partnerships with our customers. We operate in over 80 countries around the world and our portfolio of industry-leading brands includes Eka, Dissolvine, Trigonox, and Berol.

October 1, 2019

Vopak scales up SAM4 deployment across three locations

Leiden - Vopak and Semiotic Labs have signed an agreement to scale up the deployment of SAM4 condition monitoring. It will be implemented across additional terminals and expanded at the ones it was tested on. SAM4 will be responsible for monitoring a high number of business-critical pumps at each site.

SAM4 is a smart condition monitoring solution for critical AC motors and rotating equipment that detects upcoming failures at an early stage. Developed by Semiotic Labs, it was initially deployed inside terminals at Vopak Vlaardingen and Vopak Singapore as part of a large-scale test. Based on the results of the test, SAM4 is being scaled up across three locations.

In addition to the current expansion, SAM4 is being added to Vopak’s technology catalogue. This will pave the way for a much larger deployment across additional sites in the future.

Leo Brand, CIO of Vopak: “Vopak continues to innovate in the way we design, construct, maintain and operate our terminals. Innovative technologies such as that provided by Semiotic Labs will help us to improve safety at our terminals, enhance the reliability of our operation, and reduce our energy consumption.”

SAM4 uses electrical waveform analysis to monitor the condition of AC motors and rotating assets such as pumps, all from within the Motor Control Cabinet. This means the maintenance team can accurately detect upcoming faults without attaching any sensors directly to the pump. This is useful for Vopak, as it enables the remote condition monitoring of assets that operate in inherently hazardous environments, such as tank terminals.

Simon Jagers, Founder of Semiotic Labs: “We’ve worked with Vopak for the better part of our company’s history. Since the beginning, they have both supported our work and challenged us to do better. Signing the framework agreement with Vopak today represents an important milestone in our relationship. Looking to the future, we are pleased that Vopak’s commitment and technical expertise creates an environment that allows us to provide value to their daily operation, as well as a breeding ground for innovation and the continuous improvement of SAM4.”

About Semiotic Labs
Semiotic Labs was established in 2015 with the aim of making maintenance 100% predictable. From Leiden, 24 Data Scientists, Software Developers and Technical Specialists are working on SAM4 - the condition monitoring solution for AC motors and rotating equipment. Semiotic Labs is active in various industries and works with customers such as Vopak, Nouryon, ArcelorMittal, Tata Steel, Schiphol, and Engie.

About Vopak
Royal Vopak is the world's largest independent tank storage company. Vopak operates a worldwide network of terminals at strategic locations along important trade routes. With more than 400 years of history and a strong focus on safety and sustainability, Vopak provides safe, clean and efficient storage and handling of liquid bulk products and gases for their customers. In this way Vopak enables the delivery of products that are vital for our economy and daily life, ranging from chemicals, oils, gases and LNG to biofuels and Veg Oils.

September 9, 2019

How condition monitoring increases reliability at airports

Baggage On Conveyor

There is nothing quite as chaotic as a service disruption at an airport. Stressed out parents trying to keep bored children entertained, business people frantically trying to reorganize meetings and newly weds desperately trying to keep their honeymoon on track. As well as the mental (and sometimes emotional) consequences of service disruptions at an airport, the financial costs are also enormous - both in terms of short term disruption, as well as long-term reputational damage.

Frequent disruption can also greatly affect the operational capacity of the airport. This is especially relevant for airports that wish to increase passenger volume, but cannot expand the physical capacity of the airport.

A great number of the critical processes that operate in airports are powered by electric motors - think baggage conveyor belts, escalators/travelators and lifts. Many of these processes are so critical that if a motor unexpectedly breaks, then large parts of the airport cannot function. This is where condition monitoring plays an important role.

Condition monitoring is used to detect developing faults in electric motors and rotating assets, so that they can be fixed before the fault causes a failure.

Below are a number of high criticality process found in most airports, together with a short explanation of how condition monitoring makes that process more reliable.

Luggage conveyor belt

Luggage conveyor belts transport luggage from the check in desk to the airplane, and from the airplane to the baggage belt. The motors that power these conveyors are electric, and are highly critical to the operation of the airport. A luggage belt breakdown can cause huge disruption including:

  • Chaos at check in desks as baggage cannot be transported to the plane.
  • Passengers travelling without their baggage, which can result in large compensation claims against the airline.
  • Baggage that is simply lost as a breakdown leaves baggage stranded in an unknown part of the airport.
  • Congestion in the baggage hall as reclaim belts are not functioning.
  • Departure delays due to checked baggage security screening taking longer.

And luggage belt breakdowns are a frequent occurrence. Google “(airport name) baggage belt breakdown” and more often than not there will be news articles detailing the ensuing chaos.

Condition monitoring can be used to eliminate unplanned baggage belt breakdowns. SAM4 can detect a developing fault in a conveyor motor or conveyor belt, so the maintenance team can fix the fault while the conveyor belt is not in use.

The issue with monitoring every conveyor in an airport is that they are everywhere. This can make attaching condition monitoring sensors directly to each conveyor motor very inconvenient and complex. SAM4 by Semiotic Labs monitors the condition of a motor from within the Motor Control Cabinet, and so does not require sensors to be attached to the conveyor belt itself. This makes monitoring the condition of your conveyors simple and scalable.

Pumping stations

Heavy rain can wreak havoc on airport operations - from flooded basements to flooded runways. That’s why rainwater pumping stations at airports are so crucial.

Rainwater pumps are run by electric motors. If those motors break down during a period of high rainfall, the airport is in big trouble.

SAM4 condition monitoring can be used to detect developing pump faults up to 4 months in advance, so that they can be fixed in a period of low rainfall, when they are less likely to be needed.

Escalators and travelators

Take a large airport in the height of summer, and add a few late gate changes, some passengers rushing to make a connection, and lots and lots of luggage.

This is precisely why an effective escalator and travelator (or moving walkway) system is a crucial part of any airport. If passengers cannot get to where they need to be, then flights will be missed and chaos will reign.

If one motor in a travelator or an escalator breaks, then the whole machine needs to be stopped to fix that one motor. This can be hugely inconvenient, especially in a large and busy airport.

SAM4 can be used to monitor the condition of the motors that drive your escalators and travelators, and will detect developing faults well in advance of an escalator failure. This means that if a fault is detected, the motor can be fixed when the airport isn’t as busy, for example during the night.

To find out more about how SAM4 condition monitoring can make critical airport processes more reliable, click here to sign up for a demo.

August 28, 2019

Condition monitoring for the pulp and paper industry

paper mill

The pulp and paper industry has existed since the 6th Century, and although modern technology has made the production of paper hugly more efficient, there is still one major way that paper mills can increase efficiency and output. And that is through the reduction of unplanned production downtime.

Condition monitoring of critical pulp and paper production processes can alert the maintenance team to a developing fault before that fault causes unplanned downtime. By reducing unplanned downtime, you can increase industrial output without expanding your plant, ultimately helping you to make more paper for less.

Below are a number of critical processes in the pulp and paper industry, combined with an explanation of how condition monitoring can make that process more reliable.


The Hydrapulper is a machine that uses an agitator to mix waste paper and water together to create recycled pulp.

Hydrapulper agitators are often driven by AC motors. Although the machine requires little maintenance, when it does break down, it can have a direct impact on production.

Applying traditional vibration-based condition monitoring techniques are often not possible due to the fact the agitator motor is difficult to reach. That’s why many Maintenance professionals are turning to SAM4, which is installed inside the Motor Control Cabinet rather than on the motor itself.

Bleaching system

The bleaching system in a paper mill relies on a number of centrifugal/multistage pumps both to feed the process and expel wastewater. Due to the toxicity of the chemicals involved, a fault in this process could create a health hazard.

Condition monitoring will ensure that any developing fault is detected early (up to 4 months in advance), giving your maintenance team sufficient time to correct the fault before a health hazard does occur.

Paper machine

The Paper Machine can be split into a number of individual processes; many of which are crucial to the production process. These include:

Headbox pulp pumps
The headbox uses powerful pumps to propel the pulp at high speeds into the gap former. Although they are not overly expensive to replace, if a pulp pump breaks unexpectedly, then the resultant downtime can be costly.

By installing condition monitoring software, maintenance teams can be alerted to any developing fault in the pulp pumps, so they can be replaced before a pump failure causes downtime.

Pressing section
The pressing section uses a number of high power rollers to remove water from the paper. Pressing is an important part of the production process, and so if the motors that power the rollers break down, the effect on production output can be immediate.

Drying section
After the pressing, the paper enters the drying section, which uses heated cylinders to remove the rest of the water and strengthen the paper.
The rollers used in the drying section run at high temperatures, and this can create problems when trying to install on-asset condition monitoring sensors. The heat could damage the sensors and ultimately lead to a missed fault.

SAM4 requires sensors to be installed inside the Motor Control Cabinet, which is a safe and temperate place for condition monitoring sensors. No sensors need to be placed on or near the hot rollers.

Paper Mill Rotational Dryer

Calendar section
In the calendar section, the paper is fed through two rollers to give the paper a consistent thickness. These rollers are heavy, and so the motor that moves them needs to be powerful (and is therefore quite expensive to replace). Periodically replacing a powerful roller motor as part of a preventative maintenance strategy can significantly reduce your Overall Equipment Effectiveness.

SAM4 can detect a developing fault in a motor, and report that fault to your maintenance team. This means your maintenance team only needs to replace the roller motor when it is necessary, and not before - therefore increasing OEE and optimizing your maintenance schedule.


Once the paper leaves the paper machine, it is fed into the sheeter. As the name suggests, the sheeter is used to cut large sheets of paper into smaller sheets, which are then stacked onto pallets ready for transportation. If a paper mill needs to create a high volume of smaller sized paper, then sheeter downtime can significantly hamper production.

By monitoring the rollers in the sheeter with SAM4, production levels can be maintained regardless of the paper sizes being produced.

Unplanned downtime in the pulp industry is no fiction

Paper producers such as Sappi and Crown Van Gelder use SAM4 to reduce unplanned downtime events in their paper mills. To learn more specifically about how Crown Van Gelder uses SAM4, read the case study here.

Sign up for a demo

If you are interested in learning more about how condition monitoring could make your paper mill more reliable, sign up for a SAM4 demo.

August 16, 2019

Condition Monitoring: the key to industrial energy efficiency


Around 45% of the energy used worldwide is used by electric motors. That’s a whole lot of electricity. It’s also why industrial energy efficiency has become such a hot topic. Reduced energy usage holds the key to an improved environmental impact and lower operating costs.

However, energy efficiency initiatives have historically been low on the priority list, often due to:

  • difficulty with identifying which processes are the most inefficient, and therefore need the most attention.
  • high short-term costs (installing inefficiency detection software, rightsizing motors etc).
  • the prioritization of high levels of production, regardless of cost.

New advances in condition monitoring are making industrial energy efficiency improvements far more achievable. SAM4 monitors the health of a motor by measuring current and voltage, which by extension means that SAM4 can also measure and detect inefficient processes. Traditional conditional monitoring techniques rely on vibration analysis to monitor the health of motors, and so are unable to offer the same efficiency improvement features.

Production managers are now turning to current and voltage measurement driven condition monitoring to identify inefficiencies in industrial processes, so that maintenance teams can act quickly to rectify the inefficiency.

Why increased industrial energy efficiency is so important

Improved environmental impact
It goes without saying that the most important objective when improving industrial energy efficiency is an improved environmental impact.

As important as it is, justifying spending money on this can be a difficult conversation, especially when there are more short-term pressing issues, and multiple different stakeholders begging for budget.

Reduced costs
Perhaps a more effective justification when there are multiple budgetary mouths to feed is that investment in improved energy efficiency can result in lower operating costs in the long run. This is especially the case as energy gradually becomes more expensive.

Improved brand image
This may seem like a self serving reason to invest in improving industrial energy efficiency, but it is valid nonetheless. Reduced energy consumption is a hot topic, and a demonstrated effort to reduce energy consumption could be a point of differentiation - encouraging consumers or businesses to engage with you rather than a competitor.

How can condition monitoring help improve industrial energy efficiency

As mentioned, electric motors consume a huge amount of electricity worldwide, and so even a few, small concentrated efforts can make a difference. Below are a few ways that condition monitoring can help reduce energy consumption in industrial environments.

Proper maintenance
According to research, properly maintained motors consume up to 15% less energy. SAM4 can be used to detect developing faults (which cause motors to run less efficiently), so they can be fixed as soon as conveniently possible.

Re-engineering inefficient processes
Consider a scenario with two very large drainage-pumps. They operate at 80% of capacity in the autumn and winter, as the most rain falls in those seasons. During spring and summer, they both run at 40%.

A relatively quick way to reduce energy waste would be to operate one pump at 80% in the spring/summer instead of two at 40%.

Although this might be a simple example, the point stands. By combining domain knowledge, process knowledge, and power consumption and load measurements provided by monitoring systems, it is often possible to identify new ways to increase process efficiency.

Right-sizing motors
You don’t need a sledgehammer to crack a nut, and the same applies for the use of electric motors. Selecting a motor that matches the load is an important step in improving electrical motor efficiency.

The efficiency of a motor is at its greatest when it runs between 60% and 80% of rated power. The motor will become gradually less efficient when the load is lowered, and will become significantly less efficient when operating at a load below 35 to 40%. By replacing inefficient motors with more appropriately sized motors, the total energy consumption of a plant could be significantly reduced.

When right-sizing motors, it is also important to balance the long-term effects of right-sizing with the short term costs. For example, replacing an oversized and inefficient motor before it shows signs of a fault will incur a cost. However in the long term, the plant will save both money and energy by using a motor that is better suited to the process.

Sign up for a demo

If you are interested in finding out more about how SAM4 condition monitoring could help your plant become more energy efficient, sign up for a demo here.

August 5, 2019

Condition monitoring for the food processing industry

food processing industry

There are a huge number of different steps that go into the production of everyday food products. Many of those processes are reliant upon electric motors, which can sometimes fail.

These processes often need to run 24/7, and any losses in production can result in fulfillment failure fines (for failing to deliver the required quantity). This exacerbates the cost of downtime, which is something producers are very keen to avoid.

SAM4 condition monitoring provides real-time insights into the health and performance of the motors that drive critical food production processes. SAM4 can detect a fault up to 4 months before that fault causes a motor failure; giving your maintenance engineers sufficient time to repair or replace the motor before unplanned downtime occurs.

Based on feedback from our customers, below are a list of the most critical processes in the food processing industry, as well as how SAM4 can be used to make each process more reliable.

Steam pumps
In many factories, pumps are used to transport steam to the necessary location in the food production process.

If these steam pumps fail, the consequent drop in pressure can result in heat loss. Heat is expensive to generate, and so the breakdown of steam pumps can equate to an expensive downtime event.

As you can imagine, the pumps used to transport steam can get quite hot, and this poses a problem if you need to install delicate condition monitoring sensors directly on the asset. SAM4 measures motor current from within the Motor Control Cabinet. This means that the condition monitoring system will continue to function, regardless of the temperature of the pump.

The use of agitators
Agitators are run by electric motors, and are used to mix different substances together inside a tank.

The mixing process is often quite complicated, and requires a specific list of actions to be taken over a number of days. If the agitator breaks during that time, then the product may need to be disposed of. This is expensive both in terms of the disposal of product, and the inability of the plant to create more.

By using condition monitoring, developing faults in agitators can be detected well in advance of a breakdown. Meaning they can be fixed while the agitator is not in use.

Conveyor belts are frequently used in the food processing industry to transport goods to the next area of production, and are often required to run 24/7.

Conveyors also rely on other conveyors to keep the product moving. This means that if one conveyor breaks down, then other conveyors being used in the same process must also stop. In turn, this could result in:

  • product spoiling while being stranded on the production line
  • product being loaded onto a stationary conveyor, which could result in spilt product and cleaning.

This knock on effect is why a conveyor breakdown can become quite costly for the production process.

SAM4 condition monitoring can be used to monitor conveyor systems 24/7, removing the need to regularly deploy maintenance professionals to manually assess the condition of a conveyor. As mentioned, SAM4 can detect a failure up to 4 months in advance, giving the maintenance team sufficient time to schedule downtime and replace the defective conveyor motor while it is not in use.

Refrigeration Compressors
These compressors are a key feature of the refrigeration process. If the refrigeration compressors fail, then goods cannot be kept at the required temperature, which may result in product being thrown out.

A longer downtime event may also require production to stop, as there is nowhere to store the new product.

SAM4 condition monitoring can detect a compressor fault up to 4 months in advance of the fault causing a failure. This gives your maintenance team time to schedule downtime when the fridge is empty or is not needed.

Air Compressors
Compressed air is used in a number of ways in the food production industry, including:

  • cleaning containers before they are filled with food
  • blowing the crumbs off fresh bread before it’s packaged
  • operating actuators, rotaries and grippers.

As compressed air is so integral to a variety of different processes, air compressors can be situated in multiple different places within a plant. This makes attaching condition monitoring sensors directly to the asset quite inconvenient.

SAM4 can monitor the condition of multiple air compressors from inside the Motor Control Cabinet, meaning you can install condition monitoring for your air compressors quickly and easily, without attaching sensors on each individual asset.

Book a demo
To find out more about how condition monitoring could make your food processing plant more reliable, contact René Wellens - Business Development Manager by filling in our contact form.

July 31, 2019



Below is a list of frequently asked questions about condition monitoring and SAM4. The list is split into general questions, specific questions about installation and questions about data security. If you feel this list is missing something, please let us know.

General Questions

How much does SAM4 cost?
Pricing is dependent upon a number of factors. To receive a free no-obligation quote, contact

How much does installation cost?
How much installation costs will depend on how you want to install SAM4. Installation can be done by your own service team, an external party or via a Semiotic Labs installation partner.

Semiotic Labs’ partners will give a quote based on, among other things, travel time, results of the site survey, number of assets, number of switch boxes and installation time. Installation generally takes between 30 and 60 minutes per asset.

Can I see a demo of your solution?
Depending on your location, we can provide a live demonstration of our solution, or a demo over a video call. To organize a demo, please email

What is the benefit of SAM4 for an asset with a low rate of failure?
SAM4 can not only identify when an asset will fail, but in most cases it can also identify the cause of the failure. This means that your maintenance team can fix the problem faster when there is a failure. Additionally, assets with a low rate of failure will still break, which can then cause unplanned downtime (which can be very costly). SAM4 can detect developing faults, and can help you to plan maintenance when it suits you.

What type of machine is SAM4 suitable for?
SAM4 is available for low-voltage (up to 690v) AC motors and rotating assets such as pumps, compressors, conveyors, blowers and fans.

Does SAM4 work with frequency inverters and soft starters?
SAM4 will work with frequency inverters, soft starters and almost any other hardware that is placed in front of the motor. SAM4 only requires the ability to measure current and voltage on a line that leads directly to the motor.

How is SAM4 different from traditional condition monitoring?
SAM4 uses electrical waveform analysis, or Motor Current Signature Analysis (MCSA), to identify developing faults. This is significantly easier to install than traditional vibration based condition monitoring, and achieves a higher rate of accuracy when it comes to fault detection.

What information does SAM4 require about the assets it is monitoring?
SAM4 needs to know a number of things about the asset it is monitoring, such as Motor Brand, Location of Motor, Power, Amps, Full Load Speed and Bearing Type (driven end or non-driven end). This information is generally listed on the motor nameplate. Consult our Asset Intake form for the full list of information required.

Does SAM4 work for assets operating at varying work points (load and/or speed)?
Yes. We can handle motors operating at varying work points.

Can your system be integrated with our CMMS / EAM / MES?
This can be done via our API - check with our team for more information.

What if SAM4 is installed on an engine that is already damaged?
As the effects of motor damage increase over time, SAM4 can be installed on an already damaged motor. The system will be able to identify the gradual aggravation of the damage and alert you to the developing fault (subject to the initial machine learning period).

Can I export my dashboard data?
All data that can be seen in SAM4 can easily be exported in CSV format.

How are we alerted to a developing fault?
Reports are communicated via e-mail including a description of the problem found and relevant actions. In the case of high priority, we also contact you by telephone. Initial warnings are also communicated from the SAM4 dashboard.

Installation related questions

How is installation of MCSA different from installation of vibration based condition monitoring?
MCSA is installed inside the Motor Control Cabinet. Vibration based condition monitoring requires sensors to be installed directly on the asset. This can be problematic if the sensor is located in a hazardous area, hard to reach area, operates under harsh conditions (dirty environment, high/low temperatures, high humidity) or in an ATEX zone.

Is grid pollution visible? (network pollution)
We can monitor structural network pollution, but it depends on where we measure and the type of connection.
If we measure after a frequency inverter, we cannot monitor grid pollution, but we can monitor the frequency inverter. If we measure assets directly online, we can also see network pollution.
Regardless, network pollution does not influence SAM4’s failure detection accuracy.

How do you deal with poorly insulated cables? Does that have an impact?
The sensors can be applied to uninsulated "voltage strips", so insulation is not a factor. Our current sensors are isolated. See our current sensor data sheets for specific information.

Is SAM4 resistant to heat and humidity?
Please see the table below.

sam4 specs

Are the SAM4 components grounded?
The switch, gateway and power supply feature an opening which can be used for grounding.

The latest version of the DAQ is automatically grounded via shielded ethernet cables, provided that the switch and gateway are both grounded via the grounding screws already present.

Can old production processes also be monitored using SAM4?
Yes, signals from any AC motor can be analyzed. Old or new.

What voltage do you measure?
SAM4 can currently measure up to 690V (line to line). We are currently working on a mid to high voltage solution.

What type of motor can you monitor?
SAM4 can monitor both three-phase asynchronous and synchronous electric motors.

Will we get any support during the installation process?
An overview of the installation process can be found at

Support is available in the lead up to, during and after installation.

Will SAM4 fit inside my MCC?
SAM4 hardware dimensions are as follows:

Component Dimensions
(H*W*D) in mm
DAQ 107 * 22.5 * 120 1
Switch 143 * 48,6 * 104 1
Gateway 125 1 * 51 * 125 1
Magnetic foot antenna ∅ 30 * 91,4
Power supply adapter 90 * 40 * 100
Fused terminal din-rail block 96,3 * 22,5 2 * 59
Voltage sensor small ∅ 23 * 56
Voltage sensor large 101 * 16 * 37

1 a UTP cable adds 35 mm to this size
2 width per set of 3 blocks

Can SAM4 be installed inside a Withdrawable Module?
This will depend on the specific situation, contact our team for more details.

Connectivity and data (security)

How is SAM4 connected to the platform?
SAM4 can be connected through 4G, Wifi, LAN or a local server.

How much data is transferred per hour?
This depends on the asset being monitored, but generally 5 MB of data is transferred per asset per hour.

How does the gateway communicate with the Semiotic Labs platform, and what domains does it communicate with?
The gateway can communicate with our platform via ethernet, wifi or mobile connectivity depending on the clients installation. The gateway communication with the Semiotic Labs platform takes place via a small number of external domains. Gateway communication on sensor data and gateway status data consists solely of outgoing traffic. In case of gateway updates, all updates are downloaded on a pull-to-install basis initiated by the gateway itself. When the gateway is connected to a company network via Wifi or Ethernet, Semiotic Labs will not remotely access the gateway or initiate incoming traffic in any form.

In the case of ethernet or wifi connectivity the client may need to whitelist the domains listed in this page, depending on company policy.

Is the gateway communication secure? What about information regarding my company network and data?
All communication between the gateway and the outside world is secured via the standard TLS protocol. The gateway only sends sensor data and gateway status data. There is no transfer of personal data. There is no transfer of company data except for sensor data obtained by SAM4.

What kind of data/communication will be coming into my company network? How will gateway updates work?
All communications are triggered by the gateway. The updates on the gateway are triggered periodically.

I want to set up a static IP for the Semiotic Labs gateway. Can I use any IP address?
If possible avoid using the IP-range 192.168.1.[0-255].

Are there any speed requirements for the Semiotic Labs gateway internet connection?
Internet usage depends a lot on the number of assets being monitored. A simple rule would be to have at least a 5 Mbps internet connection. Minimum requirements are 0.1 Mbps upload per motor and 0.5 Mbps download per gateway.

Do all of the SAM4 components require access to my company network?
The gateway is the only component that requires internet access. One way to give internet access to the gateway is via the company network. The gateway does not need to communicate with other devices within the local company network. All other SAM4 components operate independently and should not be part of the local company network.

What will happen if the WiFi password changes?
The new WiFi password needs to be set on the gateway. This requires physical access to the gateway via a laptop and ethernet cable. See the SAM4 installation manual for more details on how to set the WiFi password.

Which components do I see in my network?
If this is from a sysadmin point of view and the gateway is connected to the local network, then you should only see the gateway reporting to the network

How does the gateway communicate with the data loggers?
The Gateway communicates with the data loggers through an ethernet connection via a switch. The gateway has a separate ethernet interface for this connection. The gateway and data logger network is independent of any other network.

Is it possible / necessary to connect the gateway to the internet via a VPN?
The gateway does not need or use a VPN connection.