Condition monitoring solution reduces downtime


Sheard Packaging, the UK’s largest independent corrugated cardboard box manufacturer, is using the moneo RTM condition monitoring system from ifm electronic as an aid to reducing costly and disruptive downtime. MEPCA found out more.

Since starting to work with the moneo system from ifm, which is specifically designed to be easy to implement without the need for specialised programming knowledge, Sheard Packaging has detected and remedied a number of incipient faults which, if they had developed to the point of failure, could have cost the company hundreds of thousands of pounds in lost production.

Rapid growth in the demand for its products, driven in part by the increase in online shopping triggered by the COVID pandemic, meant that it was more important than ever for Sheard Packaging to ensure that its production plant was able to operate with a minimum of unplanned downtime. The company was, therefore, interested in implementing a monitoring system that would provide an early warning to its maintenance team if the operation of a machine started to deviate from normal, as this would allow remedial action to be implemented before a breakdown occurred.

While traditional condition monitoring systems would have performed this function, they have a reputation for being costly, difficult to install and complicated to set up. moneo RTM from ifm electronic has, however, been developed from the outset with cost-effectiveness and ease of use in mind. In particular, it connects easily with sensors that have IO-Link interfaces, and it allows users to set up application-specific dashboards so that they can see key plant information at a glance. It also provides flexible alarm functionality that instantly alerts users to anomalies in plant operation.

As a pilot project to determine just how useful moneo would be in its own plant, Sheard Packaging purchased a moneo software licence and a moneo hardware starter kit. The kit includes two vibration sensors, a speed sensor, a temperature sensor and a four-way IO-Link master, together with a moneo processing unit with the moneo IIoT platform pre-installed, and a Wi-Fi access point. Also included are a power supply and all necessary interconnecting cables to ensure that the kit offers a ready-to-use plug-and-work solution.

The initial set-up used the two vibration sensors on a Göpfert automatic high-volume cardboard forming machine. In a very short time, it was apparent that the moneo system was delivering invaluable information. As a result, within a month of the trial installation going into service, the moneo system had been extended to monitor data from no fewer than 60 sensors. Many of these were additional vibration sensors installed using glue-on studs, which made them fast and easy to fit without taking the machine out of service. Installation was further simplified by the use of pre-terminated plug-in cables to connect the sensors to the moneo system.

“The moneo system is very easy to retrofit to existing machines,” said Dean Sherman, Electrical Maintenance Manager at Sheard Packaging. “Once it’s functioning, it makes it simple to visualise exactly what’s happening on the machines, which is an enormous operational benefit. We can see instantly, for example, if a bearing is starting to fail, which means we can schedule replacement work for a time when it will have minimum impact on production. A really excellent feature of moneo is that ifm provides a complete end-to-end solution: sensors, analytics and dashboard displays – it’s all done for you.”

To ensure that it gets the best from its moneo systems, Sheard Packaging has invested in training from ifm electronic, which covers topics that include custom dashboard configuration, detailed interpretation of results and analysis of historical data as an aid to maintenance planning. The company also plans to roll out moneo monitoring across its whole factory, with the next step being the installation of the system on an EMBA high-speed converting machine.


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