Use case: Conditions Monitoring
IoT intelligent sensors, which are installed on structures, add a fundamental digital layer of information and safety. Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) capabilities and predictive maintenance are becoming key differentiators in the construction industry as they enable runtime diagnostics through continuous and remote data collection.
Teufelberger-Redaelli is a recognized leader and innovator in the industry of steel wire ropes, even for the most demanding or extreme applications. The combination of expertise and technology is a unique strength of the group, which bring forth improvements and innovations. It is on this technological competence that new products and services are built.
Their products are integrated into passenger transport systems, construction of civil structures, offshore, as well as heavy machinery. As a critical component for such applications, structural integrity of the steel ropes must be constantly monitored.
The collaboration with 221e started in the context of incorporating miniaturized, connected, intelligent sensing nodes into Teufelberger-Redaelli steel ropes for cableways. Motion sensing and vibration analysis are key parameters for any SHM and condition monitoring system. In this case, 221e was able to offer its competence in Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) sensor fusion and low-power micro-embedded systems.
There were critical challenges to consider and overcome to effectively monitor a steel rope operating under a large volume of loads and mechanical stresses. One hurdle we encountered was the physical constraint due to the compact form factor and geometry of the ropes. Any solution we devised would have to follow the form of the cables and allow them to function undisturbed.
Moreover, it was imperative to gather various data and detect any deviation in a precise and timely manner. Specifically, this involved monitoring gears and poles, as well as measuring rotations, vibrations, and other environmental parameters. These are essential measurements that ensure the proper functioning of the equipment components and smooth operation of the cableway plant.
The resulting system offered two solutions that could function either inside or outside of the steel ropes. We had to account for the cylindrical shape with an identically shaped shell for internal use, while the outer-use shell would sit on top of the rope without disrupting operation. This was a challenge that called for the ultimate miniaturization of the sensor system.
The system was designed for autonomous operation over a period of several days while running embedded algorithms and storing the data. This was achieved using a super compact rechargeable battery with low mAh for rapid recharge. The outcome was a system that runs using low-power consumption. A feat that our engineers accomplished through a specific combination of firmware and hardware.
An embedded algorithm is used to monitor key parameters of the steel rope and the plant. These include vibrations induced by the rollers, lay length of the strands, and rotations. Based on system resources, the algorithms were optimized to have a low firmware footprint. This is reflected in how little power the system consumes.
221e partnered with Teufelberger-Redaelli for the development of a custom hardware sensing system, supervising hardware design and embedded software development to enable real-time edge AI. Thanks to the connected IoT infrastructure and cloud architecture, data that is collected by the various sensors will be uploaded and stored. The system acts as an added layer of security on steel ropes of the cableway.
This smart solution guarantees that the team at Teufelberger-Redaelli can perform routine maintenance based on feedback from the sensor network, in addition to installation operations, when needed, for routine checks and installations.
The project led to the successful implementation of a rope-integrated sensing system, the first of its kind, and the first in the world. Teufelberger-Redaelli is leading this innovation which enables the exploration of new business models based on data and digital services.