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Non-contact vibration sensors will open up new uses

18 March, 2019

An Israeli company has developed a non-contact, laser-based sensing technology that measures the vibrations emitted by industrial machinery to predict and prevent mechanical failures before they occur. VocalZoom says that because its sensors can monitor machine health without touching the equipment, they will have a much wider range of applications than traditional predictive maintenance systems, as well as avoiding the deployment and downtime costs associated with fixed sensors.

Most existing vibration sensors rely on MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical), piezoelectric or acoustic technologies that are not suitable for many potential applications. VocalZoom says that its non-contact vibration sensors can be deployed on both new and old machinery, even when it is wet, hot, moving, hard-to-reach or too small for traditional sensors.

“The Industrial IoT is only as good as the sensors that monitor machine performance,” says VocalZoom CEO, Tal Bakish. “Unfortunately, most IIoT sensors are built on technology that makes predictive maintenance solutions expensive and unreliable for a number of important use cases. Our vibration sensors represent the next generation of predictive maintenance solutions, offering better monitoring at lower cost for up to 70% of all industrial machinery.”

Vibration sensing is regarded as being the most accurate way to identify anomalies in a machine’s health and to detect issues related to its condition and performance. VocalZoom’s patented vibration sensors use a SMLD (self-mixing-laser-diode) technology to measure the velocity, distance and vibrations of a machine. The 15 x 6 x 3mm sensors can be fitted into almost any configuration and geometry. They can be used up to 3m away from the machine they are monitoring.

VocalZoom asserts that its sensors will:

•  Optimise performance  It claims that its laser technology is more accurate than mechanical sensors and, unlike audio sensors, is immune to ambient and environmental noise.

•  Minimise downtime The non-contact sensors can be deployed in a fraction of the time it takes to integrate traditional vibration-monitoring systems, enabling facilities to be up and running much faster.

VocalZoom’s non-contact sensors measure the vibrations emitted by industrial machinery to predict failures before they happen.

•  Reduce maintenance costs The laser sensors need no batteries and have fewer moving parts than mechanical devices, and will therefore need less maintenance and cut costs.

•  Cover more equipment Because the VocalZoom sensors are small and do not need to be placed in contact with the equipment they are monitoring, they can be applied to uses that are currently not being addressed.

“We believe data is the key for new and improved industrial IoT applications in a digitised era, and that vibration sensor provides the best data possible,” says Bakish. “Our mission is to build the next generation of sensor technologies to serve a diverse range of markets, from oil and gas to automotive, consumer industries, medicine, and others.”

Founded in Israel in 2010, VocalZoom is backed by more than $25m in funding from investors and strategic partners including 3M New Ventures, Motorola Solutions Venture Capital, OurCrowd and others.

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