The continuous and systematic analysis of performance data from the monitoring of operational PV power plants is vital to improving the management and thus profitability of those plants over their lifetime. The article draws on an extensive programme undertaken by 3E to assess the performance of a portfolio of European PV power plants it monitors. The article illustrates 3E’s approach to automatic fault detection. It will explore the various data mining methodologies used to gain an accurate understanding of the performance of large-scale PV systems and how that intelligence can be put to the best use for the optimal management of solar assets.
3E’s work on automatic fault detection and diagnosis has received funding from the European Union under the MANTIS project.
Wapice is a Finnish company specialized in providing software and hardware solutions for industrial companies for wide variety of purposes. We have developed remote management and condition monitoring solutions since beginning and our knowledge of this business domain has evolved into our own Internet of Things platform called IoT-Ticket. Today IoT-Ticket is a complete industrial IoT suite that includes everything required from acquiring the data to visualizing and analyzing the asset lifetime critical information.
Why condition monitoring
In predictive maintenance the goal is to prevent unexpected equipment failures by scheduling maintenance actions optimally. When successful, it is possible to reduce unplanned stops in equipment operational usage and save money through higher utilization rate, extended equipment lifetime and personnel and spare part costs. Succeeding in this task requires deep understanding of the asset behaviour, statistical information of the equipment usage and knowledge about the wear models combined with measurements that reveal the equipment current state of health. Earlier these measurements were carried out periodically by trained experts with special equipment, but now the modern IoT technologies are making it possible to gather real time information about the field devices all the time (i.e. condition monitoring). While this increases the availability of data, it creates another challenge: How to process massive amounts of data so that right information is found in the right time. In condition monitoring process the gathered data should optimally be processed so that amount of data transferred towards the uplink decreases while the understanding of the data increases.
This article describes how modern IoT technologies help in condition monitoring related processes and how data aggregation solutions makes it possible to share condition monitoring related information between different vendors. This further improves operational efficiency by enabling real time condition monitoring not only in asset level but also in plant or fleet level, where service operators must understand the behaviour and available lifetime of assets coming from different manufacturers.
WRM247+ data collector for edge analysis
The first link in the condition monitoring chain is the hardware and sensors. In order to measure the physical phenomena behind the wear of the asset a set of sensors is required to sample and capture the data from monitored devices. This data must be buffered locally, pre-processed and finally only the crucial information must be transferred to the server, where the physical phenomena can be identified from the signals. Depending on application area a different types and models of sensors are required to capture just the relevant information. Also depending on the physical phenomena a different kind of analysis methods are required. Due to these reasons the various measurement systems have so far been custom tailored according to the target. This approach of course works, but designing custom tailored measurement systems is time consuming and expensive. Our approach to overcome these problems has been to implement such IoT building blocks that adapt into wide variety of purposes and can be easily and flexibly taken into use. One of the cornerstones in our system is the flexibility and user friendliness.
In the hardware side our IoT platform offers several approaches. WRM247+ measurement and communication device is our hardware reference design that allows connecting a wide variety of industrial sensors using either wired or wireless communication methods and also provides local buffering and pre-processing of data as well as communication to the server. Examples of supported standard protocols are CAN, CANOpen, Modbus, ModbusTCP, 1-Wire and digital/analog IOs. This device is an excellent starting point for most common industrial measurement purposes.
In Mantis project Wapice has been investigating the interoperability of the wireless and wired sensors. In use case 3.3. Conventional Energy Production we will demonstrate the fusion of the wireless Bluetooth Low Energy technology and wired high accuracy vibration measurements. In order to achieve this we have built a support for connecting IEPE standard vibration sensors to the WRM247+ device. The device supports any industrial IEPE standard sensor, which makes it possible to select a suitable sensor according to the application area. Additionally we have also built a support for connecting a network of BLE sensors to the device. In use case the purpose of this arrangement is to gather temperature information around the flue-gas circulation blower using the wireless BLE sensors and perform vibration measurements from the rolling bearing. The temperature measurements reveal possible problems e.g. in lubrication of the bearing and possibly allow actions to be taken before a catastrophic failure happens.
In case WRM247+ device is not suitable for purpose, it is possible to integrate custom devices easily into IoT-Ticket using the REST API available. For this purpose we provide full documentation and free developer libraries for several programming languages. The list of available libraries includes for example C/C++, Python, Qt, Java and C#. Other integration methods include for example OPC or OPC UA and Libelium sensor platform, that supports e.g. wireless LoRa sensors. In addition Wapice has a long experience in designing machine-to-machine (M2M) solutions including PCB layout, embedded software design and protocol implementation, so we also offer you the possibility to get tailored Internet of Things hardware or embedded software that fully suit your needs.
Iot-Ticket portal for Back-End tools
In the back-end side IoT-Ticket provides all necessary tools for visualizing and analyzing data. Our tools are web based and require no installation: Simply login, create and explore!
The Dashboard allows users to interact securely with remote devices, check their status, view reports or get status updates on the current operational performance. It can be utilized in various scenarios – e.g. vehicle tracking, real time plant or machinery monitoring and control. As many Dashboard Pages are available the user can switch between different contexts and drill into information starting from enterprise level to sites, assets and data nodes. The Dashboard also includes two powerful tools for content creation: Interface Designer and Dataflow Editor.
Using the Interface Designer user can raw new elements or add images, gauges, charts, tables, Sankey diagrams, buttons and many other elements onto the Dashboard. Those elements can then be easily connected to data by dragging and dropping Data Tags onto them.
The Dataflow editor is an IEC 61131-3 inspired, web-based, graphical block programming editor that seamlessly integrates to the Interface Designer. A user can design the dataflow by connecting function blocks to implement complex logic operations which then can be used to execute control actions or routed to user interface elements for monitoring purposes.
In Use Case 3.3. Conventional Energy Production Wapice – together with Finnish partners – demonstrates Cloud-to-Cloud integration in Mantis platform using the IoT-Ticket platform tools. In this use case LapinAMK and VTT have jointly setup a Microsoft Azure based MIMOSA data aggregation database. The plan is to share condition monitoring related KPI information through MIMOSA database, which allows sharing data through REST API. Devices may either push data directly to MIMOSA or through local clouds.
IoT-Ticket allows communication to REST sources using Interface Designer graphical flow programming tools. Getting data from REST sources is done by simply creating a background server flow that contains a trigger and REST block. The REST block is configured with username and password that allow authentication to REST source, source URL and REST method that contains XML/JSON payload. From the REST response the data value is parsed and output to data charts or forwarded to further processing. Additionally virtual data tags allow forwarding the data into IoT-Ticket system. By configuring the flow to be run in server mode, the flow is run silently in background all the time. The operation interval is configured using the timer block, which fires the REST block in certain intervals. An example video below shows how Cloud-to-Cloud communication between MIMOSA and IoT-Ticket is established in Use Case 3.3. In this example video sinusoidal test data originates from LapinAMK enterprise and tachometer RPM reading from system under test using WRM247+ device.
The reporting and analytics tools add on to the platform features. The report editor integrates seamlessly into the Dashboard and offers a user the possibility to create or modify content. The user can draw new elements or add image, gauges, charts, tables, Sankey diagrams, buttons and many other elements onto the report. Those elements can then be easily connected to data by dragging and dropping Data Tags onto them. Analytics tool is also integrated to the Dashboard and supports you in understanding your data better.
Benefits of IoT in condition monitoring
Typically condition monitoring related data has been scattered around in separate information systems and it has been very hard or even impossible to create a single view of the all relevant data or correlate between information scattered in different databases. MIMOSA is an information exchange standard that allows classifying and sharing condition monitoring related data between enterprise systems. It answers the data sharing problematics by allowing aggregation of crucial information into single location in a uniform and understandable format. When interfaced with modern REST based information sharing technologies that utilize for example JSON or XML based messaging it is surprisingly easy to collect and share crucial information using single aggregation database. When accompanied with modern web based Industrial IoT tools it is then easy to visualize data, create reports or perform further analysis using only the crucial information available.
In this blog posting I have highlighted some examples how Industrial IoT building blocks help you to gather relevant condition monitoring information, create integrations between data sources and aggregate business relevant information into single location. Focusing on the crucial information allows you to understand better your assets and predict the maintenance needs. This is needed, when optimizing the value of your business!
MANTIS; Cyber Physical System based Proactive Collaborative Maintenance.
This project has received funding from the ECSEL Joint Undertaking under grant agreement No 662189. This Joint Undertaking receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and Spain, Finland, Denmark, Belgium, Netherlands, Portugal, Italy, Austria, United Kingdom, Hungary, Slovenia, Germany.