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As industrial production rapidly transforms, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) drives plant-wide changes and enhanced asset health and maintenance management. Facility managers, engineers and technicians must be able to rely on their equipment’s operation. Monitoring assets and assessing their health is of paramount concern to detect problems before catastrophic failures.

Smarter decisions—guided by fast, accurate measurements—before maintenance, repair, or replacement activities can mean sizable cost savings, improved equipment operation and reduced safety risks. In best practices facilities, reliability inspections and monitoring optimize efficiency by reducing unplanned maintenance hours and diminishing the need for route-based maintenance in favor of condition-based maintenance triggered by changes in performance data. In an ideal situation, owners and managers can:

  • Collect, store and group data;
  • Track key parameters and capture faults;
  • Tie readings to assets and work orders;
  • Provide history;
  • Receive alarms and provide notification.
Monitoring assets and assessing their health is of paramount concern to detect problems before catastrophic failures

Of the estimated 1.3 million industrial plants worldwide, 70 percent are more than 20 years old. Each facility includes numerous unmonitored tier two assets (compared to industry best practice of 80 percent monitored machines) and, most importantly, at least seven to eight critical assets that are unmonitored or not regularly inspected. That leaves several million unmonitored, uninspected assets that could benefit from asset health and performance data, now made feasible by connected, cost-effective maintenance technology. 1

Filling the Gap

The return on investment (ROI) and benefits of reliability and condition-based maintenance have been known for decades, but only recently have technologies come together to make predictive methods, wireless condition monitoring and computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software as a service (SaaS) available at an attractive price point. This has become possible primarily because of the IIoT.

A system or plan that unites maintenance reliability capabilities today to enable the facility of the future is ideal and can support the generation, collection and consolidation of data from wireless sensors, handheld tools and existing systems with remote monitoring capabilities through any connected device (e.g., desktop, tablet, or smartphone). Facility managers, engineers and technicians will benefit from integrated data and maintenance management.

Connected Measurements

Having handheld tools and wireless sensors whose data is aggregated in one location is a benefit for plant and maintenance managers. Some wireless sensors that may be beneficial are temperature, electrical, power, thermal and vibration data.

A system that wirelessly connects handheld test tools and sensors to connected devices can provide precise data on asset health to the maintenance manager trying to mitigate failures.

CMMS and Work Order Management

Many enterprise asset management (EAM) and CMMS systems are available. A cloud-based CMMS system allows for flexibility and ease of use for asset management, workflow and work order management, and reporting. Many cloud-based CMMS systems can be up and running almost immediately.

Full Integration Software

Another part of a data management system creates the pathway for integration with and between third party supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), enterprise resource planning (ERP) and EAM and CMMS systems, directly connecting maintenance departments to operational metrics. Data integration combined with data management and a mobile control interface gives maintenance and operations staffs the ability to cross-reference process automation information with maintenance activity and inventory records.

Table 1 – Standard Returns on Condition-Based Maintenance
Source: U.S. Department of Energy Operations & Maintenance Best Practices Guide 2010
Return on investment 10x
Reduction in maintenance costs 25% to 30%
Elimination of breakdowns 70% to 75%
Reduction in downtime 35% to 45%
Increase in production 20% to 25%

The Difference

Adding condition-based/predictive technologies to tier two assets can be as easy as adding a single sensor or an infrared camera with smart software, giving maintenance reliability personnel the ability to begin with a small, incremental step toward predictive methods.

When data is gathered and aggregated electronically, reliability engineers, maintenance managers and other professionals can correlate it from different technologies (e.g., infrared, vibration, power and SCADA) and share the data across the enterprise.

In real time, managers can assess equipment condition and immediately associate that data with work orders, scheduling planned maintenance before unplanned downtime. Technicians benefit from the safety advantages of planned maintenance instead of emergency responses. In addition, safety is at the forefront of using wireless sensors that remove the need for personnel to stand near dangerous equipment or high voltages.

Some cloud-based technology and software can be installed parallel to the existing network, limiting IT involvement. In many cases, maintenance teams can adopt whichever aspects address their needs, all with relative ease, using the staff they have and scaling as desired. Until now, carrying out installations and programs of this kind required costly retrofitting, increased manpower and large investments in IT infrastructure. Today, with incremental application of the technologies and integrating with any system, this can be accomplished with relative ease.


  1. Annunziata, Marco and Evans, Peter C. “Industrial Internet: Pushing the Boundaries of Minds and Machines” report. Fairfield: General Electric, November 2012.

Case Study

The Challenge: Power monitoring on the field in Green Bay

In September 2017, on an unseasonably humid day in Green Bay, Wisconsin, the Filmwerks International, Inc., crew prepped a broadcast stage at Lambeau Field for the professional football league game between Green Bay and Chicago. Filmwerks’ core business is providing backup uninterruptible power supply (UPS) for broadcast companies that televise professional sporting and entertainment events, including football, wrestling, golf, mixed martial arts and concerts. For these jobs, the entire Filmwerks team must receive alerts based on customized measurement thresholds that could reveal possible electrical issues.

Filmwerks operates a UPS system with a 500 kilowatt generator to accommodate its clients who broadcast live football games. For the job at Lambeau Field, the company used four, 3540 FC three-phase power monitors with flexible current probes to keep tabs on voltage, amps, frequency and total harmonic distortion.

The power monitor helps professionals monitor power input and output to equipment. Teams can stream vital power data to the Cloud, then access measurement information—displayed in graphs that show baselines and historical data for trending—using a mobile app or desktop interface. From there, technicians and managers can set thresholds for alarms that notify the team when measurements, such as voltage or current, fall outside the accepted range.

The Approach: UPS system evolution

Rick Fadeley, Filmwerks’ UPS manager, is charged with alerting clients of notable changes to power before and during events. He also provides comprehensive reports after the referee blows the final whistle. The ability to connect multiple, semifixed power monitors to observe three-phase input and output while being connected to the Cloud gives Filmwerks and its clients confidence in the company’s power monitoring efforts.

Multiple 3 phase power monitorsMultiple three-phase power monitors set up to ensure continued flow during a professional football league game

3 phase power monitorThis three-phase power monitor will ensure adequate power during a Thursday night professional football league game

“Traditionally, in the live broadcast power business, up until a couple of years ago, it was always twin generators for redundancy. So, they weren’t even connected to shore power utility at all; they were in isle mode floating these broadcast trucks,”explained Fadeley.

In many ways, Filmwerks is pioneering a greener and more reliable approach by providing UPS technology to clients who cannot risk prolonged outages because substantial advertising dollars are at stake. The company uses a modular design and state-of-the-art battery banks and avoids operating generators and burning diesel fuel, which lowers fuel costs for their clients. The effects are a reduced carbon footprint and minimized excess machine noise. To accomplish this, Filmwerks uses silent UPS systems with battery backup. A big selling point to clients is their knowledge of and ability to remotely monitor power transference.

“Our clients like it and they feel comfortable that everything is going well,” Fadeley said. “We also use it for data recording. We get a baseline of what the critical loads are, what to anticipate, and how to connect and load our equipment. It also archives data. We can go back a week or month later and see how that particular show performed and how particular equipment was consuming power. Again, this is all traveling equipment, so every week or so it’s in a different location and, at times, with different electrical loads.”

Implementation: Real-time data

Filmwerks depends on utility power as the primary power supply to broadcast operations, so Fadeley recognized a pressing need to have real-time power data at the team’s fingertips. Filmwerks’ trailers are equipped with eight custom air conditioning units to sustain a stable room temperature for the battery banks. With access to remote monitoring on his smartphone via the mobile app, Fadeley and his team can be alerted to any power issue that demands immediate attention.

The Filmwerks team reports power data to each client by individual facility, so it can note any electrical components that were problematic during its past visits.

Employee with Filmwerks working
The Filmwerks team begins setup in Green Bay

"Where the data comes in handy is especially in shore power or utility power where you have no control. We’re a visitor to this facility. We take what they give us and hope it’s good. If it isn’t, we like to have data to look at after the event, especially if there are problems. The next time we have to deploy to this stadium, we know what we’re dealing with," noted Fadeley.

The Benefits: Peace of mind with a thermal imager

During the Green Bay setup and broadcast, Filmwerks installed a wireless thermal imaging sensor outside one of its custom-built trailers. Surrounded by the humming of broadcast trailers, team members immediately saw past the initial cool factor of exploring their world through an infrared lens and focused on how the new thermal imaging sensor could improve capacity to capture visual data and, in turn, deliver more comprehensive reports to their clients.

When Dwight Johnson, a generator and UPS technician, interacted with a wireless thermal imaging sensor, he saw immediate value in using it to see if equipment heats up in real time, giving Filmwerks the ability to know what is happening when it happens.

Thermal imager
The thermal imager uses infrared technology to monitor a power cable located in the electrical panel of the Filmwerks’ trailer

“I want to put it on our house panels, so I know what each phase is doing,” Johnson said, highlighting the importance of temperature measurements and identifying hot spots. Remote monitoring from their smartphones is a selling point to their clients, as well as the ability to log data, set temperature alarms and compare thermal images over time. All these benefits empower Filmwerks’ technicians to react to issues right away.

The crew set up a wireless thermal imaging sensor to monitor a power cable located in the electrical panel of the company’s trailer to take one infrared image every five minutes. Normally, exposure to the sun can impact the thermal sensor’s temperature measurement. However, the infrared imager was set up under a switchgear cover to monitor overnight, so the sensor was not exposed to solar heat.

While this monitoring session did not catch any suspicious changes in surface temperature, the Filmwerks crew took comfort in knowing that they would be notified in the event of an issue.

Stephen Satrazemis, who oversees the stage assembly crew for Filmwerks, explained how the app helps the business. “It’s very important for us to be able to leave, go to our hotel rooms and sleep at night knowing that, if something does go wrong, we’re going to get an alert and we’re going to know what happened,” he said. “If we don’t know, we are constantly thinking about it or have to leave someone behind.”

Frederic Baudart

Frederic Baudart, CMRP, is a lead product application specialist for Fluke Accelix™, a suite of solutions from Fluke Corp ( He has 20 years’ experience in field service engineering work and the preventive maintenance industry. Frederic is Thermal/Infrared Thermography Level I certified.

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