Vibrations from motors and industrial machinery create energy that is usually wasted. Now Cambridge-based 8power is capturing this energy to run a predictive maintenance system that enables the machine to self-diagnose its own faults.
Paul Egan, CEO of 8power, says that the technology is “taking existing dumb, dark machines and making them smart, intelligent assets”. He explains: “Most motors vibrate within a known range of frequencies and only a modest amount of vibration is required to generate sufficient energy to power sensors. Our solution means that a sensor can operate for 10 years without a battery.”
There are many applications for 8power’s energy harvesting. One example is work with ABB, a Swiss-Swedish robotics company, to increase the capability of its sensors.
Paul says: “We have been able to improve the performance of sensors so that they are able to sense, process and report more data, more often. Additionally we have been able to move some of the AI algorithms currently running in the cloud down onto the asset itself. This not only improves the quality of the available data, it also shortens time to fault identification and can reduce the cost of maintenance or repair.”
8power sees many applications for its technology within the agri-food industry. Drying equipment, irrigation systems, and conveyor belts for washing produce post-harvest are all examples of equipment that generate vibrations and where breakdown has a high economic cost.
Paul continues: “Currently we are using the energy to power a condition monitoring and predictive maintenance system. Our solution can produce up to 100mW with moderate vibration. This may seem like a trivial amount but is more than enough power to regularly run sensors and long-range wireless.
“We are aiming to develop systems that can predict faults and to use the skills of the existing maintenance teams to retro-fit and commission these sensors.”
Paul is one of the speakers at the Agri-Tech East Pollinator “We’ve Got the Power; On-Farm Solutions to Energy Demands” being held on 23 May 2019 at 1:30 – 5:00 pm at Hethel Innovation, NR14 8FB.