The networking of vehicles and machines requires components and systems with decentralized intelligence. Schaeffler already offers products and services without which a digitally interconnected world would not be possible in the future.
Vehicles that warn each other of danger spots. Manufacturing equipment that detects early if an individual component is at risk of failing. What recently seemed to be a vision of the future is now within closer reach thanks to digitalization. In order to realize the vision of the Internet of Things, however, these “things” must first become intelligent. This means that vehicles and other machines must be capable of recording and transmitting information. The information received must in turn be processed and converted into actions. The key to this is provided by electromechanical high-tech components developed today by Schaeffler for a wide range of applications. Intelligent components and systems make up a large share of the over 2,000 patent applications filed by Schaeffler engineers each year. This technology is the basis for new services developed by Schaeffler that make the world of data-based services accessible to customers now.
Not only humans but also machines can now think, talk, and act. To be able to do so, however, machines require intelligent sensors as “sensory organs” that receive and transmit information. Humans use muscles to initiate actions, whereas machines need actuators. Everything is coordinated by a processing unit. Unlike humans, whose intelligence is located in the brain as a central unit, technical systems are usually equipped with a decentralized, networked intelligence. Sensors, actuators and control units are ideally combined in a very small design envelope, which makes a modular design of the entire machine possible. A good example in this respect is the electromechanical active roll control system from Schaeffler, which has been manufactured in volume production since 2015. The actuator – an electric motor – and the control unit are arranged directly next to each other. An integrated torque sensor continuously monitors the system’s function in order to ensure driving stability and safety at all times. Intelligent components from Schaeffler are also used in many other applications, ranging from wind turbines to e-bike drives.
By putting its electromechanical active roll control system into volume production, Schaeffler started a new chapter in the history of chassis technology. The technology adapts the chassis application to any driving situation extremely quickly, absorbs irregularities in the road’s surface, and thereby minimizes the vehicle’s rolling motion. This increases comfort, safety, and driving dynamics. This innovation helps to reduce fuel consumption and emissions compared to hydraulic systems and helps simplify assembly in the manufacturing plants of the automobile manufacturer.
The electromechanical active roll control system was used for its volume-production debut in a top-of-the-range sedan as well as in the powerful and dynamic luxury SUV class with a 48-volt electric system. The Schaeffler electromechanical active roll control system comprises a gearbox, control motor with an electronic system, and an integrated torque sensor. The control motor with its high-ratio, three-stage planetary gearbox rotates the two halves of the roll control in opposite directions and generates torque, which has a stabilizing effect on the vehicle body. The torque is measured precisely with the help of a non-contact torque sensor and used to ensure the fast and precise control of the actuator.
One approach for optimizing the internal combustion engine is to replace hydraulic systems with electromechanical systems. The electromechanical camshaft phasing unit from Schaeffler adjusts the camshaft faster and more precisely according to the relevant operating conditions of the engine. By using an electromechanical system, it is possible to adjust the camshaft with a speed of up to 600 degrees of crankshaft angle per second. The significantly increased range of adjustment compared to hydraulic systems allows modern highly-efficient combustion processes. Fuel consumption and emissions are reduced at the same time.
Further advantages: The timing can be freely selected when the engine is started. In turn, this makes it possible to change the effective compression of the engine in a targeted manner and thus enable combustion to commence smoothly when the engine is started. This is an important option for the increasing number of engine start-stop systems and hybrid drives, with which the internal combustion engine is switched on and off multiple times during the drive.
Mechatronic components enable the implementation of new functions and can contribute to a significant increase in dynamics:
Schaeffler has developed, for example, intelligent, automatic solutions for previously purely mechanical or hydraulic clutch systems. Depending on the extension stage, the system known as “E-clutch” either operates the clutch only in specific driving situations or completely automates all clutch operations. This means that fuel-saving driving strategies, from “sailing” to electrically-assisted driving, can also be used in vehicles with manual transmissions.
The electronic clutch management system ECM does not require a clutch pedal. A sensor provides the signal for disengagement when the driver changes gear. Likewise, engagement is carried out automatically when the gear is selected. The level of automation in the ECM provides a good basis for integrating an electric motor into the drive train. With a suitable battery in a 48-volt on-board electric system, the electric motor is used to drive the vehicle in all instances when the internal combustion engine is running uneconomically, for example, when parking, in stop-and-go traffic or in low-speed urban driving conditions.
The complexity of industrial facilities is continuously increasing. The online monitoring system "FAG SmartCheck", a compact and modular online measuring system, enables permanent decentralized monitoring of machines and process parameters. The FAG SmartCheck provides comprehensive information about the condition of machine components. The device is integrated into the machine's control system and thus into the process monitoring system as well.
Despite the wide range of analysis options available in delivered condition, no or only little knowledge in vibration analysis is required for installation and initial operation. The basic functions of the FAG SmartCheck are ready for immediate use.
At the same time, the measuring system also fulfills more complex requirements. Three extension stages are provided for this purpose: Individual components are monitored locally in the first stage. If the user selects the second stage, the device is intelligently integrated into the machine control system. In the third stage, the system can be integrated into more complex applications. There is a range of service activities for all three stages. This can include remote access via an Internet connection but also consultations and other services.
For the first time, the latest generation of linear recirculating roller bearing and guideway assemblies of the RUE-E series has integrated sensor units, which enable requirement-controlled lubrication and bearing condition monitoring. The sensors for monitoring the lubrication conditions provide feedback to the machine control system and initiate automatic relubrication using the innovative multi-point lubricator FAG CONCEPT8, for example.
An acceleration sensor is fitted to the linear recirculating roller bearing and guideway assembly for bearing condition monitoring. This provides the vibration velocity, vibration acceleration and the rolling bearing parameter to the connected signal converter and includes limit value monitoring.
With this concept, Schaeffler is developing a system, which enables the user to have direct feedback and communication with the machine control system. This allows automated, requirement-based relubrication and automated initiation of maintenance measures.
Manual lubrication intervals are no longer required, and lubrication requirements can be reduced by up to 30%. Automated condition monitoring facilitates predictive maintenance, which pays off in terms of higher availability and quality as well as reduced total cost of ownership.
Integrated torque sensor technology from Schaeffler ensures outstanding precision and efficiency in the control and monitoring of machine conditions and processes. Schaeffler therefore provides an important prerequisite for interconnected and intelligent processes.
The new magneto-elastic torque sensor technology from Schaeffler allows the material stresses occurring in a shaft to be directly measured and converted into a torque signal. Schaeffler thus offers a mechatronic solution that allows applications and processes to be monitored and controlled with significantly greater precision. The torque is recorded right where it is applied. In contrast to conventional torque measurement, disruptive influences in the drive train such as torsion rigidity, temperature effects, and losses can be reduced to a minimum.
Torque sensor technology has found its first applications in the agricultural engineering sector. The latest generation of fertilizer spreaders of the agricultural machinery manufacturer RAUCH now features FAG torque measurement modules that are integrated directly into the drive hub. These precisely measure the current fertilizer flow rate, directly adjacent to the process and with no contact. Even blockages and jams in the metering slides are detected.
Data are generated where intelligent components and systems are used. However, data are only valuable if useful information can be gained from them. This is exactly what Schaeffler does today in order to gain advantages for its customers, e.g. by preventing costly repairs to machines and equipment by calculating the remaining operating life of bearings depending on the loads occurring during operation. Two areas of expertise are required in order to establish these services. One is systems expertise that goes far beyond the components supplied by Schaeffler. This means, for example, that engineers simulate the entire drive train of a vehicle if the aim is to design a hybrid module for electric driving. The other is a professional and reliable IT infrastructure, which Schaeffler is continuously expanding. It ranges from central data management in the Schaeffler cloud to apps for professional users.
Schaeffler carries out both the networking along the value-added chain and the integration from the sensor to the cloud. The objective is to develop a central platform, with which the data from various processes can be managed and evaluated.
Schaeffler is consistently pursuing a path towards digitalized manufacturing with Machine tool 4.0. The data gathered is evaluated both locally and in a Schaeffler cloud and the results are forwarded to the relevant locations on site.
Consistent digitalization also increases the involvement of customers and suppliers and provides them, for example, with increased transparency when tracking their orders and parts.
Schaeffler offers an efficient solution for determining the remaining useful life of rolling bearings based on actual data that are recorded during operation. This allows machine operators and manufacturers to reduce their overall operating costs and unit costs.
Prerequisites for calculating the actual load data are machines equipped with sensor technology that matches the application, data from the machine control system, a BEARINX model of the machine, and a connection to the Schaeffler cloud. Schaeffler’s BEARINX calculation software calculates the data at regular intervals and automatically determines the remaining useful life of the bearings while taking, for example, the operating conditions into consideration. The customer can view the remaining useful life for each individual bearing position in his or her machine using any browser-capable end device.
This allows maintenance intervals to be determined based on relevant loads and service measures to be planned in a targeted manner. The customer benefits from the resulting cost savings and has the option of stockholding replacement parts in an intelligent manner.
Vibration monitoring systems are the most reliable method when it comes to monitoring rolling bearings and detecting incipient damage to bearings and other machine components. Schaeffler has many years of experience in this area. The quantity of measurement data available is constantly increasing as the use of sensor technology becomes more and more prevalent, and Schaeffler offers an automated rolling bearing diagnostics service that allows these data to be automatically and intelligently evaluated. The results are then displayed to the customer in the form of recommended actions. The prerequisite for this service is the new generation of the FAG SmartCheck vibration monitoring system.
This compact measuring system records the raw data from every assembly and transmits them to the cloud. Improved calculation and analysis algorithms that are continuously updated are available for processing these data on Schaeffler’s software platform, which customers can access from their end devices without the need for additional software installation.
Various Schaeffler apps support the digital networking of products and services. They help to collect data and to display and assess machine conditions.
The PrecisionDesk app, for example, allows the authenticity of rolling bearings that are marked with a data matrix code to be checked by simply scanning the data matrix code on the bearing or the bearing packaging.
In the future, options such as directly accessing bearing-specific measurement records for spindle and rotary table bearings and storing them for documentation purposes or sending them using the app will also be available. For spindle bearings, it is also possible to generate bearing-specific electronic data records and, via suitable interfaces, to utilize these in logistics systems, for example.