IK4-IKERLAN makes progress in the industrial digitalization with several projects of wireless sensor implants for Basque companies
The technology centre specialises in low power autonomous sensors systems, which report remotely on the state of the machine components and the industrial processes
- The projects developed for GOIZPER, CETEST and Laulagun Bearings allow monitoring the functioning of their machines and optimise their productive systems
- IK4-IKERLAN moves forward with these projects in the digitalisation of Basque companies within the framework known as Industry 4.0
Wireless sensors are basic elements in every industrial automation process. These devices are genuine sensory organs, which play a fundamental role in the implantation of the Industry 4.0: capture and communicate precise and safe information for the operation of machines or intelligent systems. Furthermore, the wireless technology allows to measure variables in points of poor access, contributing with an added value to the system.
Sensor systems are a fundamental link in any process of industrial digitalisation because, apart from obtaining the necessary measures to control the system, it allows to capture and communicate remotely all information regarding the state of the components and industrial processes to gather information that allows to adjust the design of the equipment and improve the related manufacturing and/or maintenance processes.
The capacity of the Basque technology centre IK4-IKERLAN covers all development phases of these autonomous sensor systems: from the conceptual idea, through the design and finishing in an industrial prototype, which complies, with the sector's regulations where it will be applied. As an example of specialisation in this field, the developments performed in collaboration with benchmark companies are stated below, such as GOIZPER, CETEST and Laulagun Bearings.
Precise and continuous monitoring
In the case of the Cooperative GOIZPER, specialised in the manufacturing of power transmission components, IK4-IKERLAN has designed a smart sensor, which monitors continuously the level of wear of the combined brakes-clutches, installed in unfriendly and poor access environments. This sensor is integrated in the rotary disks and works autonomously thanks to a kinetic energy harvester (a device that captures energy from the environment and lengthens significantly battery life), and thanks to the wireless communications it provides remotely precise information about the wear of the friction material and the temperature in the friction point of the brakes.
Thanks to this project, the company gathers permanent information about the state of wear of the friction material and can know with precision when to carry out its maintenance. This allows to improve the service to its clients and prevent unplanned productions shutdowns and any dysfunction due to a bad assembly, mainly due to misalignments.
Smart sensors for railway
IK4-IKERLAN's second work is directed to the Test and Analysis Centre CETEST, which the CAF Group has in Beasain. In this case, the technology centre has developed a wireless sensor technology capable of monitoring different physical variables, such as acceleration and deformation of a railway structure. This system helps CETEST to perform their tests on this type of structures in a more flexible and faster way, given that thanks to the industrial wireless technology it allows to work without complex cable networks, which had to be utilized to perform their measurements along the same structures.
With this project, CETEST distributes the wireless sensors along the structure and maintains the different measuring points in a synchronised way in a range of microseconds, through a strong and reliable wireless communication system.
Offshore wind generators
The third solution developed by IK4-IKERLAN has been directed to the company Laulagun Bearings, which is engaged with the production of cylindrical roller bearings and large special bearings, such as those destined to the demanding market of marine wind generators. The objective has been to design a system capable of monitoring the structural health of the bearings remotely in unfriendly environments with great complexity.
Specifically, the wireless sensor system is capable of providing precise and continuous information about the state of the wind generator bearings installed offshore to foresee potential defects in their functioning and, therefore, decreasing costs.
With this project, Laulagun Bearing monitors physical variables such as vibration, temperature or distance between components to anticipate possible flaws and minimize damages.
The repair and substitution of these bearings is performed under complex conditions and through a display of equipment, which demands the use of high-cost resources such as lift boats. Thanks to these sensors, repairs can be scheduled to match the daily maintenance tasks.
IK4-IKERLAN is a leading centre for technology transfer and for providing competitive value to companies due, among other things, to the expertise of its researchers. It offers comprehensive solutions by combining different fields of technology in three main areas: Electronics, information and communication technology (EICT), Energy and power electronics and Advanced manufacturing. In 2017, AENOR, has certified IK4-IKERLAN’s comprehensive management system (UNE-EN ISO 9001:2015 and UNE 166002:2014), which is a acknowledging of the excellence of the centre in the R&D&I area. It currently has a staff of approximately 300 people.