The air compressor is running, but the pneumatic machine suddenly stops. The cause is a gradual, unnoticed drop in pressure over a long period, due to a leaking pipe or fitting. A nasty surprise.
"With the FTMg flow sensor, leaks in the pneumatic system can be detected long before the machine fails due to a loss of pressure. And that's not all: the sensor can help minimize operating costs for compressed air production, supply and distribution, creating more efficient pneumatic processes, because with the FTMg flow sensor, it is now possible to continuously measure and make transparent flows and energy consumption. The sensor can even report measured leakage losses in kWh, enabling direct comparison with the energy of the compressed air supplied - ideal for an energy management system compliant with DIN EN50001."says Helen Zimmermann, Product Manager for Flow Measurement Technology at Sick AG's New Business Global Business Center, Waldkirch.
Three measurements - one measuring point
According to Helen Zimmermann, in terms of measurement technology, the FTMg's strong point is undoubtedly the simultaneous measurement of flow, pressure and temperature by a single sensor. This eliminates the need to install three separate sensors, resulting in significant cost savings. The straight measurement channel minimizes the pressure loss associated with the measurement technology in the pneumatic system during measurement. Available in three nominal pipe and process connection diameters, the FTMg features a lightweight, compact and user-friendly construction. Its all-in-one design also eliminates unnecessary risks of leakage in pneumatic systems.
A single unit of measurement for the energy of supplied and incoming compressed air
The sensor's highly dynamic calorimetric measurement principle enables it to detect even the smallest changes in the consumption system when monitoring cylinders and leaks. This makes it possible to detect and locate unexpected pressure losses in a targeted manner. Pressure losses are visualized on the sensor display as flat or steep edges on the pressure curve, and can thus be interpreted directly.
The measured energy loss is indicated in kWh and can be compared and offset with the energy fed into the compressed air supply network. This provides true transparency of energy consumption, as required by energy management systems to DIN EN 50001. This applies equally to the sensor variant with IO-Link connectivity as to that with Ethernet interface, OPC UA communication protocol and integrated web server.
Digital output of up to eight analog values via IO-Link
The FTMg multifunctional flow sensor is capable of providing up to eight process parameters in total: flow velocity, flow volume, cumulative volume, mass flow, cumulative mass, energy consumption, current pressure and temperature.
The FTMg is equipped with a surface-mounted IO-Link. All process data are transmitted digitally via this point-to-point connection, and can be accessed via a PC, mobile terminal device or automation system. This sensor variant also offers analog and digital outputs for signal transmission and controller integration.
Ethernet version with OPC UA for ERP and cloud connectivity
"The FTMg ensures efficient, fault-free operation of compressed air systems. The sensor can be accessed remotely via an integrated web server, for example to read and view the last seven days' measurement data stored in its circular memory. In addition, the FTMg's built-in statistical analyses enable basic monitoring functions to be implemented, for example to detect peaks or changes in average energy consumption. Information from the multifunctional sensor is of interest not only to the control system, but also to higher levels of automation, such as ERP systems or cloud-based applications."explains Helen Zimmermann.
To enable the values measured by the FTMg to be used for the efficient operation of compressed air supply networks throughout the company, an Ethernet-based variant of this sensor is available, which transmits data using the OPC UA standard. This enables, for example, measurement information to be used not only for condition monitoring or plant management, but also in production- or process-oriented industrial 4.0 applications and dashboards. Analysis of the energy consumption profile of machines or pneumatic systems running on compressed air - possibly combined with data from other intelligent sensors or actuators - can provide information on process quality and productivity.
"For example, consistent consumption patterns for a process are indicative of uniform product quality or production volume. Machines of the same design and functionality can be compared in terms of their compressed air consumption, and differences can be analyzed in a targeted way. Edges in a consumption profile that drift over time may suggest changes that are not visible from the outside, such as a change in the speed of a pneumatic cylinder. This may be a sign of cylinder wear, or a leak in the compressed air supply to the cylinder. In all cases, inspection or maintenance of the cylinder is warranted".notes Helen Zimmermann.
Failure prevention and energy management
"Thanks to its versatile measurement and analysis technology, FTMg breaks new ground in the efficient use of compressed air machines and pneumatic systems. Energy consumption becomes transparent, leaks are detected in good time, and energy changes and losses become visible and can be interpolated and compared."says Helen Zimmermann. Energy management systems to DIN EN 5001 benefit, as do process quality, system availability and productivity. All these benefits translate into a short amortization period when purchasing the multifunctional FTMg - and also into a highly scalable solution thanks to the connectivity options offered."
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