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 analyze electrical waveforms in order to provide asset owners with the insights needed to reduce energy consumption by 15% to 30%, without compromising on output.

“The goal of ISPT is to promote sustainable practices in the process industry," says Frans van den Akker, director of sustainability at ISPT. "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 has developed the first condition monitoring solution to offer efficiency improvement insights, paving the way 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 5 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%.

“Sustainability is a crucial part of modern industry, and our tool will enable organizations to drastically reduce electrical energy consumption," says Simon Jagers, Semiotic Labs' founder. "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.

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

“SAM4 gives our maintenance staff the insights they need to identify which processes in our factory are not running as efficiently as possible," says Marco Waas, director of RD&I and technology at Nouryon. "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 is 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, SMEs, scientists and governmental bodies find the inspirational and trusted environment where they can optimally work together to stimulate breakthrough 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. A team of data scientists, software developers and technical specialists have developed SAM4, an AI-driven 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 Airport 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 vegetable 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.

oktober 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 catalog. This will pave the way for a much larger deployment across additional sites in the future.

“Vopak continues to innovate in the way we design, construct, maintain and operate our terminals," says Leo Brand, CIO at Vopak. "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.

“We’ve worked with Vopak for the better part of our company’s history," says Simon Jagers, Semiotic Labs' founder. "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. A team of data scientists, software developers and technical specialists have developed SAM4, a 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 Airport 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 vegetable oils.

juni 19, 2019

SAM4 has a fresh new look

After gathering your feedback, we've made some changes to the SAM4 dashboard that we think you’ll love.

Instantly actionable failure analysis

The new traffic light warning system gives you an instant heads-up when something is going wrong. SAM4 will also give you an idea of what's causing the problem and recommend next steps, meaning you can fix or replace your motor faster.

Real-time performance & trends over time

See the data you need as soon as you need it. Our real-time performance module will show you the metrics you need to see, as they're being recorded.

For the bigger picture, our trends-over-time module will also show you a motor's cumulative running time, energy consumption and starts.

Understand what makes your motor tick

Want to see how power factor and current interact for a specific motor? We’ve got just the ticket. Our new dashboard helps you to understand the relationship between various motor metrics by comparing them all on one plot.

Curious to see if motor performance is decreasing over time? Our performance timeline will show you key metrics over a time period of your choosing.

Like the look of our dashboard?

If you're looking for a condition monitoring system that allows you to get the most out of your data, book a SAM4 demo with one of our consultants.

mei 10, 2019

Success story: Honeywell

SAM4 detects loose belt on a critical HVAC system

Honeywell installed SAM4 on a critical HVAC system at its facility in Delft, the Netherlands to detect upcoming failures at an early stage so that maintenance can be performed before breakdowns occur. Because the HVAC system was housed in a remote location, installing vibration sensors was impossible. Honeywell decided to use SAM4, Semiotic Labs’ online condition monitoring solution that analyzes electrical waveforms to detect machine failures. SAM4 installs its sensors inside the motor control cabinet and not on the asset in the field, enabling condition monitoring for assets operating in hard-to-reach places.


SAM4's sensors and communication devices were installed inside the HVAC system's motor control cabinet. The SAM4 gateway then connected to the SAM4 platform over 4G. After 60 minutes, the system was up and running and started collecting data. After a training period of 3 weeks, SAM4 began providing insights into the HVAC system's condition, performance and energy consumption.


After a few months of monitoring, SAM4 detected a loose belt and sent an alarm, triggering an inspection. SAM4's findings were substantiated, and Honeywell replaced the belt, preventing unplanned downtime.

Zooming in on the data

1. SAM4 generated an alarm for an increase in energy at the rotational frequency, which is often associated with a loose belt.
2. Upon inspection, a loose and dry belt was detected. In the absence of replacement parts, the belt was tightened, resulting in a reduction of scores for that specific failure mode.
3. After replacing the aging belt with a new one, scores leveled out at the pre-issue level.

april 17, 2019

Installing sensors in the control cabinet: when does this add value?



A growing number of companies are moving toward condition-based maintenance (CBM) on assets such as motors and pumps.  This concept is based on the idea of matching maintenance to the state of the equipment, rather than time-based preventive maintenance tasks.  When the maintenance manager has insight into the real-time condition of a machine, he can adjust his maintenance strategy optimally.

Sensors collect data, which is used to determine the condition of the connected assets. For example, velocity sensors and accelerometers measure mechanical vibration; acoustic sensors measure air pressure; thermal senors measure infrared radiation. For each application there are several commercially available sensor options—some more robust and accurate than others. There's one drawback common to all these kinds of sensors, however: they must be physically mounted on or near the machine to take measurements. That isn't always easy to do—consider underground drainage pumps or conveyors that transport molten steel.

Fortunately, there's a way to accurately determine a machine's condition from afar: by measuring the current and voltage drawn by the motor that drives it. Deviations in the power supply can indicate a mechanical or electrical problem in the asset itself. For example, vibrations disrupt the electromagnetic field, which translates to changes in the current sine wave. Every mechanical and electrical failure mode has a specific signature or fingerprint that can be measured in the current or voltage.

This method of data collection also serves the goal of condition monitoring. The difference with other traditional methods is where the measurement takes place. Current and voltage sensors don't need to be placed on or near the asset; they just need to be somewhere on the cables between the power supply and the machine. Typically, these sensors are installed in the motor control cabinet. Installing sensor modules in a control cabinet (rather than in the field) can provide many advantages.

Field sensors are subject to environmental factors

Sensors in the field are subject to local conditions. In the food sector, for example, strict hygiene and quality requirements apply. Rooms, surfaces and materials are cleaned often. Equipment and the sensors attached to it must be resistant to water and high humidity.

In other sectors, external factors such as extreme temperatures, pressure or contaminants may be present. Sensors must be sufficiently robust to withstand these conditions—a defective sensor doesn't provide reliable data. The motor control cabinet, in contrast, is a stable, temperate, dry room—ideal conditions for sensors to do their job.

Field sensors need remote energy sources

To collect and send information, sensors must be provided with an energy source. In the past, this required the laying of power cables, a time-consuming and expensive affair. In recent years, wireless sensors have gained significant ground. These sensors usually run on batteries. How fast that battery runs out depends on the type of sensor and the application. Sending data once a day or every fifty milliseconds makes a big difference. Once the batteries are drained, a mechanic will have to replace them: no battery, no data.

One solution to this problem is energy harvesting, a process in which a source of energy (for example, heat) is extracted from the immediate environment to power the sensor. Unfortunately, it's not yet a solution that works with all sensors or in all situations. With sensor modules placed in a control cabinet, the energy problem disappears. Just hook the sensor up to the main power supply.

Field sensors cost more to install

A third advantage of sensor modules that install in a control cabinet is cost. The assets whose condition needs to be monitored are often spread over a facility. In an airport baggage handling system, for example, the distance between the motors that drive a conveyor belt can be enormous. It would take quite a long time to install sensors on each individual motor.

Moreover, there's a real art to installing proximity-based sensors at just the right place on the asset. Some sensors must be located very close to the expected source of vibration or sound, while others must be installed in places that are difficult to reach. It can prove quite problematic to reach motors integrated into larger machines, for example, or submerged pumps.

Some locations add safety risks that drive up the cost of installation. Sensors installed in hazardous areas must be certified for use in (for example) ATEX zones or flammable environments. The installation itself also requires extra precautions that can range from hazmat suits to certified divers. All this makes proximity-based sensors cumbersome and expensive to install.

All these issues disappear once you can install a sensor in the motor control cabinet. By design, the motor control cabinet is placed in a non-hazardous area that is easily accessible. What's more, the motor control cabinet brings the power supply for several assets together in one central location. That drives down the cost of sensor installation even further.

In practice

SAM4 is a current- and voltage-based condition monitoring system from Semiotic Labs. Several companies have already chosen SAM4 because its condition monitoring sensors install in the motor control cabinet and not on the asset itself.  Two examples are Vopak Vlaardingen, an industrial storage company, and Kaak Group, a manufacturer of machines for the bakery industry.

Vopak Vlaardingen

“We temporarily store products from seagoing vessels in storage tanks," says Marcel Kool, a maintenance engineer at Vopak. "The product is then further distributed using trucks or lighter barges. About two hundred pumps handle the loading at our Vlaardingen location. For us, it's important to monitor our equipment better so that we can improve our service to our customers. We want to increase the predictability of maintenance.”

Vopak Vlaardingen chose not to install sensors on the pumps themselves, but centrally in a motor control cabinet.  “The pumps aren't positioned far from each other, but they are insulated so you can't reach them directly if you want to install a sensor," says Kool. "ATEX wasn't an issue at our location, but it would be an extra factor to take into account at other locations.”

Installation & baseline determination

Vopak started a pilot program on ten pumps.  “The installation of the sensor modules in the control cabinet went quite smoothly," Kool says. "No special procedures were required, which was a huge advantage. After the modules were installed, there was a period in which the machine-learning software constructed a baseline for the pump, a sort of starting position.

“Almost immediately after this phase, we received two alerts based on the data. The online dashboard indicated that each pump was almost failing. Our mechanics examined these two pumps in the field, and what they found corresponded with what the system indicated. That increased our confidence in the system, which certainly offers perspective for the future.”

Even so, it may not make sense to extend the system to all 200 pumps at the Vlaardingen site. “The pumps we selected for the pilot run regularly," says Kool. "We also have a small number of pumps on site that we only use sporadically. These pumps would take a little longer to learn, simply because they're used so little. If we run a business case on these pumps, the outcome may be that it's not sufficiently profitable to monitor them, period, whatever sensor technology you choose. But for the majority of our pumps, condition monitoring is an option to consider.”

Kaak Group

Kaak Group has added SAM4 to the integrated asset monitoring options they offer to customers. “The bakery lines our customers use combine a number of machines," says Marcel Trapman. Trapman is a team leader at Kaak's iBakeWare division, which builds software to monitor and analyze bakery production lines and the baking process. "There are critical, large motors in these lines that are built to customer specifications. If one of these motors breaks down, the line has to be stopped, endangering the bakery's ability to deliver. To avoid a long standstill, the bakery has to stock spare motors. By using sensors to monitor the motors' condition, they no longer need this safety stock. If a developing fault is found, there's enough time to inspect the motor, order spare parts and schedule maintenance.”

Kaak Group's bakery lines already contain many different types of sensors, and can be equipped with optional sensors at the customer's request. An example of such an optional sensor is Semiotic Labs' SAM4.

“At a later stage we want to be able to give the customer the option to monitor the system's motors using data and sensors," Trapman says. "For us, therefore, the possibility of retrofitting sensors in a fairly simple manner is of great importance. With the sensor module in the control cabinet, we don't need to reach the motor at all. We therefore see it as added value for the customer to be able to retrofit it fairly easily. That's why we chose this type of system.”

Would you like to know whether sensors in the motor control cabinet also have added value for you? Check out our solution, volg ons op or schedule an appointment with us.


april 12, 2019

Success story: Crown van Gelder

1,000-kilowatt motor, zero unplanned downtime

It takes a lot of work to turn wood into paper: from hydrapulping, where agitators mix waste paper and water to create recycled pulp, through bleaching, pressing, drying, and rolling, to cutting the result into sheets and stacking them for transport.

Paper manufacturer Crown van Gelder installed Semiotic Labs' AI-based SAM4 to monitor critical production assets. On 6 December 2018, that investment paid off—big time. Read more in our Crown van Gelder case study.

maart 25, 2019

Nieuwsbrief Maart 2019

Dear reader,

One year ago, the first SAM4 units were installed in production environments. The implementation of 4th generation Smart Asset Monitor marked the launch of the 1st commercial version. SAM4 has monitored over 1.000.000 running hours of motors and detected 84% of failures in 2018 and 100% in 2019 (so far).

More about SAM4:
ArcelorMittal Use Case - SAM4 detects 100% of failures up to 4 months in advance.
Vopak monitors critical pumps (video)
Pump cavitation demo (video)

To see SAM4 in action, please join us on April 11th in Ahoy during Maintenance Next, where we will demo the integration with Salesforce’ Field Service Lightning. In short: SAM4 detects failures, FSL automatically generates work orders, permits, and scheduling services.

Over the next couple of months, several improvements to the dashboard will be implemented. We’ll focus on offering a more complete and concrete picture of the condition and performance of connected assets. In addition, we are working on a project that aims to provide in-depth energy savings potential based on the same data we use to monitor the condition of assets.

We’ll keep you posted!

Best regards,

The Semiotic Labs-team