Fixing faults from the future

Find out how innovative sensor stickers are creating safer and more cost-effective industrial processes by solving tomorrow’s problems today.

Nothing lasts forever. That’s true of so many things in everyday life. If you don’t take care of your car, for instance, by changing the oil and getting it serviced regularly, one day it’ll simply refuse to start.

In an industrial setting, maintenance becomes a much bigger challenge. For a large factory full of intricate machinery, the failure of one key component can have dire consequences. It could create a serious safety issue, or operations may grind to a halt while the fault is fixed, at great expense. In fact, at this scale, ongoing maintenance can make up 70% of total production costs [1].

But what if we could predict problems, and solve them, before they happen?

That’s exactly what the team at Feelit, the first startup to join our PMatX innovation lab in Israel, are doing. Their super-sensitive RetroFeel™ sensors monitor individual components in real time, and transmit data back to an artificial intelligence (AI) analytics platform that can sense a future fault before it even occurs [2].

The secret to this predictive maintenance is the nanoparticle ink that Feelit prints onto flexible polymers, creating sensor-packed stickers that turn any pipe, pump or valve into a smart object. These sensor arrays can simultaneously monitor pressure, temperature, vibration, leakage, wall integrity and thickness, and many other parameters with an extremely high level of precision.

By mixing and matching different sensors, the stickers can be customized to specific components in a complex industrial process. And thanks to their small size, flexibility and resilience, they are easy to install even in difficult to access areas.  

Because the stickers monitor everything from the outside in and can be retrofitted to any surface, a production line doesn’t have to pause while the predictive network gets up and running. The result is a comprehensive picture of what’s happening on the factory floor in real time, with an AI crystal ball digesting all the readings to predict problems ahead of time.

Not only does the system improve safety and prevent potentially dangerous equipment failures, but it also reduces the costs of manual inspections and production downtime associated with finding and fixing faults.

The benefits of precision monitoring are particularly relevant to the oil and gas, food and beverage and pharmaceutical industries, where contaminants can be disastrous.

We were the first company to deploy Feelit’s innovative technology in a real-world setting, and are using it to supervise processes featuring sterile or aggressive substances where we want to avoid contact with the process media.

We’re also using the sensors to monitor diaphragm valves to prevent chemical and biological spills that could result from a rupture [3].
Providing safe, effective and readily available treatments to patients is part of what we do, and Feelit’s technology is helping us achieve just that.  

 

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