Novatec commercializes failure-predicting system

Feb. 2, 2017

Novatec inc. was scheduled at the end of January to begin shipping pumps equipped with failure-predicting sensors from sister company Prophecy Sensorlytics LLC. This marks the first commercial application for the Prophecy system after more than 2.5 years of development and testing.

"Unscheduled downtime is one of the most disruptive elements in production," said Steve Braig, who joined Prophecy as CEO late last year. "We feel that this technology prevents that disruption."

Prophecy's PumpSense system

The pumps on all Novatec vacuum-conveying systems will now be equipped with the Prophecy system called PumpSense.  For the buyer of a new Novatec conveying system or pump, there is no additional hardware or software cost. The data plan is also free for the first six months. After that, users pay a monthly fee for each equipped machine.

Both companies are based in Baltimore.

A Novatec official predicts 300 to 400 Novatec pumps will be operating with the Prophecy system by the end of this year.

The Prophecy plug-in sensor attaches to the pump with a magnet or screws. It measures vacuum, vibration, temperature, pressure, sound and magnetic field, and the data is transmitted wirelessly to an easy-to-install gateway, then to cloud-based servers for analysis by Prophecy's software.

The information analyzed in the cloud is immediately available on the user's desktop or hand-held device. Anything that needs attention generates a text or email alarm message. Alarm recipients are set by the user.

Prophecy's predictive information sets it apart from other monitoring systems. "What is truly new and innovative is the predictive failure element and the fact that PumpSense is designed specifically for granulate-conveying applications," Braig said.

Simple monitoring of vibration on a pump has been available for a long time, but Prophecy has spent time figuring out what predictions can be made from specific changes in the pump's operation. The system has been running on pumps at four beta sites and in one instance it correctly predicted a pump failure four days before it actually occurred.

The data sets it collects are continually compared with the operation of a new pump, and as a result it can predict vacuum levels, belt tension level, rotor/stator health and the condition of bearings, valves, oil, gearbox and filters. Plant personnel can schedule maintenance based on results of the continuous monitoring.

"Three things are very important to me about the Prophecy system," Braig said. "First, we must have accuracy in predicting failure. The second is cost — it cannot be prohibitive. Third is simplicity. You cannot just give the user a massive amount of data without simplifying what it means. Our beta test sites over the last eight months validated all three objectives."

Jim Zinski, Novatec VP of product technology, said the predictive analytics and actionable maintenance advice made possible by continuous monitoring and focused development efforts are important for Novatec's customers. "The PumpSense analytics were created with simplicity in mind to ensure no advanced training is required to use the product or interpret results," he said.

Braig said he thinks PumpSense "will be a huge differentiator for Novatec in the marketplace," and he predicts eventually a pump without this technology will be considered incomplete.

Initially, PumpSense is available only on new Novatec pumps, but Braig said a retrofit package will be available within a few months. The retrofit kits will work on Novatec products as well as pumps from other manufacturers.

When the PumpSense retrofit package is released, Prophecy also plans to launch MachineSense, a generic machine condition monitor and predictive maintenance tool for any subcomponent that contains moving parts, and ElectroSense, a power-monitoring system to predict the health of electric components and provide visualization of power consumption and phase balance.

Ron Shinn, editor

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Contact: Prophecy Sensorlytics LLC, 877-460-1920,

About the Author

Ron Shinn | Editor

Editor Ron Shinn is a co-founder of Plastics Machinery & Manufacturing and has been covering the plastics industry for more than 35 years. He leads the editorial team, directs coverage and sets the editorial calendar. He also writes features, including the Talking Points column and On the Factory Floor, and covers recycling and sustainability for PMM and Plastics Recycling.