July 31, 2019 | Blog


condition monitoring, Condition-based maintenance


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 info@semioticlabs.com.

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 info@semioticlabs.com.

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 https://www.semioticlabs.com/docs

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.

July 25, 2019 | Blog

Condition monitoring for community infrastructure

condition monitoring, Condition-based maintenance

Panorama of Rotterdam cityscape with and Erasmus bridge.

From the tap water we have delivered to our homes, to the bridges we use to cross rivers, community infrastructure is an important part of modern life.

A great deal of this infrastructure is based on the need to move things from one place to another. The power behind that movement is often AC electrical motors. And like all motors, they can sometimes fail.

That’s why many communities and local government organizations use condition monitoring to predict when a motor will fail, so they can fix it before it does.

Here are a few high criticality processes that go on in many local communities, coupled with an explanation of how SAM4 condition monitoring could make that process more reliable.

Drainage pumps
Two of the most critical uses of these pumps are in tunnel pumping stations and rainwater drainage systems. Drainage pumps can sometimes become blocked, or develop mechanical or electrical faults. The financial and social costs of a drainage pump failure can be significant:

  • Faulty pumps in a tunnel pumping station could lead to the flooding of a busy tunnel, which can have huge implications for road transport, and by extension, the local economy.
  • Excessive rainfall in an urban area coupled with faulty rainwater drainage pumps can lead to damage of community infrastructure, the deployment of the emergency services and the potential displacement of people.

That is why it makes great financial sense to make sure your drainage pumps are working as they should be. SAM4 condition monitoring monitors the AC motors that power your pumps, and can detect an upcoming fault up to 4 months in advance.

Tunnel pumps and drainage pumps can often be located in difficult to reach places (they are almost always located underground), which means attaching sensors directly to the pump is either very difficult or impossible. SAM4 uses sensors to measure electrical waveforms from within the Motor Control Cabinet, which is much easier to install than on-asset sensors. This all means you can start monitoring your pumps faster and for less.

Depending on the municipality, there might be a high number of urban areas or tunnels which are at a high risk of flooding, each with their own drainage pumps. SAM4 offers a dashboard where you can see the health of each pump motor from one central location, therefore eradicating the unnecessary deployment of maintenance crews to inspect healthy pumps.

Sewage Pumps
Sewage is an inevitable by-product of industry and human existence. Sewage pumps are needed to transport the sewage to water treatment plants. Although sewage pumps may not mechanically break very often, they can often become clogged, which renders them unusable.

Due to the fact that the pumps are often submerged, traditional condition monitoring techniques that require sensor installation on the actual pump are not an option. As mentioned, SAM4 measures electrical waveforms from within the Motor Control Cabinet, which equals faster and cheaper installation. See our guide to learn more about condition monitoring for the Water and Wastewater industries specifically.

The motors that control the opening and closing of bridges are often electric, and can sometimes break.

The effect of a broken motor on a bridge can be quite dramatic. It can either cause large traffic jams, or congestion on the water ways. Both are damaging for the local economy, as well as the reputation of the municipality as a reliable, commerce friendly area.

Bridge motors are often located in difficult to reach places, which makes it difficult to install condition monitoring sensors directly on the asset. The sensors also need to withstand the elements, which means they need to be specially protected against water and freezing temperatures. Both these factors make traditional condition monitoring expensive to install and maintain.

As mentioned, SAM4 installs sensors within the Motor Control Cabinet, which offers dry and stable conditions, and an ideal environment for accurate condition monitoring.

Staying on the water theme, electric motors are often also used to open and close locks. If these motors break down, ships will be blocked, which again could also cause economic damage.

Installing SAM4 will help you to detect the developing faults in your lock motors, so they can be repaired or replaced before the fault causes a motor failure.

To find out more about how SAM4 could improve the reliability of your community infrastructure, contact René Wellens - Business Development Manager by filling in our contact form.

July 15, 2019 | Blog

Condition monitoring in the water and wastewater industries

condition monitoring, Condition-based maintenance

The water and wastewater industries are responsible for everything from supplying your house with drinking water to cleaning the water used in a power plant before it’s released back into the sea.

The systems and processes behind the movement and treatment of water, as crucial as they are, are still susceptible to downtime events. Many of the processes rely on AC motors to run, which are themselves susceptible to faults and failures. Downtime events in the water and wastewater industry can be hugely expensive.

SAM4 condition monitoring uses Motor Current Signature Analysis (MCSA) to analyse the current waveform of a motor and detect a developing fault. This means that when a pump is beginning to show signs of a fault, it can be repaired or replaced before that fault causes a downtime event.

SAM4 condition monitoring can help with:

Underground pumps for drinking water
Extracting drinking water from underground is thirsty work. Powerful pumps are needed to transport drinking water from underground wells to the surface. These pumps can operate anywhere between 10-100 meters underground.

Traditional vibration based condition monitoring requires attaching sensors to the actual pump motor, which is difficult if the motor is located 100 meters underground. SAM4 measures motor signals from inside the Motor Control Cabinet, which is significantly easier to install.

Typically, underground pumps for drinking water are preventatively maintained every 24 months. The price tag for the preventative maintenance of a pump such as this is around 1,500 Euros. The main downside of this type of maintenance strategy is that motors are replaced before they show any signs of actual faults. If you have a high number of these underground pumps operating, then the costs of preventative maintenance can quickly add up.

SAM4 gives insights into the actual condition of the pump, and can detect a developing fault up to 4 months in advance. This means that motors only need to be replaced when they show actual signs of a fault, meaning you save on unnecessary maintenance costs.

As mentioned, these pumps are crucial in maintaining access to clean drinking water, and as such, downtime can be costly. Although reservoirs can be used to mitigate the cost of unplanned downtime, a downtime event that lasts for longer than 48 hours could cause a drought. SAM4 provides your maintenance team with insights into the actual condition of your motor, therefore warning your team before a developing fault causes unplanned downtime.

Low pressure submersible pumps
These pumps are tasked with transporting water to the treatment plant. As the name suggests, the pumps are placed underwater, which makes attaching sensors directly to the asset a no-go. This in turn also makes MCSA the perfect condition monitoring companion, as MSCA sensors can be installed inside the Motor Control Cabinet (rather than traditional vibration based monitoring which requires installation directly on the asset).

These machines ensure that oxygen is continuously supplied to the waste eating bacteria which are used to treat the water.

These waste eating bacteria are quite delicate; if they don’t receive a continued supply of oxygen, then they will die. If the Blower breaks down, then replenishing the bacteria levels and restoring the system to full functionality can take 2 or 3 days.

SAM4 will alert your maintenance team as soon as your Blowers start to develop a fault; meaning you can repair or replace the Blower before it fails - keeping your Production Manager and bacteria happy.

Sewage pumps
Sewage pumps are used to transport sewage to the treatment plant. Although sewage pumps may not mechanically break very often, they can often become clogged, which renders them unusable.

There are two future changes to the use/function of sewage pumps which may make them more susceptible to failure:

  • Wet wells are getting smaller, this means that pumps are at a higher risk of contamination.
  • Rain water is sometimes separated from the sewage, which means that sewage going through the pump is thicker, which causes greater friction inside the pump.

An increasing likelihood of clogging/mechanical failure makes the benefits of condition monitoring even more apparent. SAM4 can detect 93% of failures up to 4 months in advance, helping your maintenance team to prevent unplanned downtime.

Sewage pumps are often submerged, and are located in potentially hazardous environments. This makes monitoring these assets from the Motor Control Cabinet the best option - something that is easily achievable with SAM4.

If you would like to learn more about how SAM4 condition monitoring uses Motor Current Signature Analysis to help water and wastewater organizations to avoid downtime, contact René Wellens - Business Development Manager by filling in our contact form.