The main theme of the industrial revolution 4.0 is cyber-physical systems; systems in which sensing, computation, networking and physical processes are connected, controlled and monitored by algorithms. While most of the discourse on IR4.0 revolves around the advanced machineries, equipment and sensors, discussion on human factors are often put aside. The IMM International Applied Vibration Conference (IAViC) 2019 were aware of this and invited expert panels from the vibration industry and academia to talk about the issues of human and machine vibration.
The summary below touches on the few topics that were discussed based on the session moderator. The invited panels for the topic above were Prof Reza Jazar of RMIT University and Dr Amzar Azizan of the Malaysian Institute of Aviation Technology (MIAT), representing the research universities; Mr Shahriman Sahib from the WESTSTAR Aviation and Ir. Sundralingam Muthanandan from Petronas representing the industries.
The forum started with the panels defining the meaning of ‘human and machine vibration’. Human-machine vibration research is reviewed from the point of view of how this working environment condition affects different types of human performance capabilities. Vibration is transmitted through the seat, hands or feet of employees who work with machines and vehicles as a main part of their job. Historically, motion sickness was a physiological response to low-frequency vibrations during sea travel. Currently, after more complex machines are invented, humans are exposed to a wider spectrum of vibrational frequency. Long term exposure to these types of vibration, across the spectrum, may cause occupational safety concerns.
One of the examples that was touched during the forum was the effects of vibrations on the behaviour of a vehicle driver. Driver fatigue caused by vehicle vibration is mentioned as the leading cause of road accidents. As large group of people are familiar and exposed to this type of vibration interaction, it has become an important area of research. Aptly, several important topics on vehicle-human vibration were presented by international speakers and discussed during the conference.
Both panels – from the oil-and-gas and aerospace industries – pointed out that with the current industries embracing the concept of interconnecting cyber-physical systems and sensors technologies, information on the vibration during these types of physical process can be collected for monitored. The vibration transducer capability technology, if enhanced, may provide a full digitalization on vibration reading and artificial intelligence will be applied to integrate the analysis with other condition monitoring techniques.
The industrial drive for the change is to reduce the operating cost to the lowest and support the remote monitoring capabilities. This will remove the use of huge manpower or resources for data acquisition, analysis and expert advice for prescription. The protection system will also be analysed and rationalized to avoid any spurious trips that may have caused production losses.
The challenges & technologies
On the other hand, the global vibration monitoring market last year was valued at about $2 billion dollars and growing, as one panel pointed out. The hardware segment – such as accelerometers, proximity probes, velocity sensors – accounted for the highest market share, whereas more and more applications are seeing the utilization of online and portable monitoring systems. The growing adoption of cloud-based technologies, Internet of Things (IoT), and machine learning is seen to accelerate the market growth in the future.
The discussion segued towards the topic of predictive maintenance, which is also expected to foster future market growth in the vibration industries. The older method of maintenance to prevent downtime is by adhering to scheduled maintenance and regular repair, also known as preventive maintenance.
The way forward
This was proven to be not only wasteful, but also ineffective. Predictive maintenance, on the other hand, aims at improving productivity and efficiency of the heavy machineries and equipment by way identifying production patterns and predict issues before they happened. It is an area that is fast emerging in the local arena as industries are quick to adapt to the latest technology in IoT where interconnectivity between sensors, cloud data management, and AI analytics is at the core of the operation. Predictive maintenance, if done correctly, is going to have a big impact in terms of lowering costs, maximizing uptime and generally improve production throughput.
One, the cooperation and collaboration between the two entities has to be two-way. Though it is understandable that academia work on a different time-scale and urgency, it is time also for the industry to understand that fundamental research may take a while before it come to a fruition – a final marketable product. Both the industry and the universities must embrace some kind of flexibility. This includes the understanding that the pace of research might be different from one industry to another, and some areas of innovation the research phase precedes well before it is tested out in the market, whereas in some other areas, the commercialize may begin while still in the research phase.
Secondly, it is essential to have and enable corporate partners to interact with research universities more efficiently in terms of technology transfer. Having technology transfer offices in universities can help balance the innovation ecosystem while reducing the burden of commercialization to academics and students. This way, universities can prioritize their continual experimentation and talent supply while industries can be on the same speed in terms of novel technological innovations.
The future for our local industries and academics are looking very bright. There is an understanding that there is need to create a balanced human-technology collaboration – putting together precision and objectivity of machines with the purpose and passion of humans. To establish a balanced of innovation in the newest industrial revolution, both leaders of the industry and academics to adapt quickly, not only to the pace of the technology advancement, but also more importantly its compatibility with our human elements.[Source: “IAViC2019 Forum 3: Issues and Potential in Human and Machine Vibration” published by International Applied Vibration Conference 2019]