FBIN, Featured, Food Manufacturing

Combilift telemetry solution to improve forklift maintenance and sustainability

Why is it important to know the temperature of a forklift’s electric motor? This kind of valuable information can prevent failures, reduce maintenance costs, and improve the longevity of a machine. It’s also just one way in which Combilift’s new telemetry solution – Combi Connect – brings value to a business.

To illustrate how Combi Connect can benefit users, Combilift’s Mechanical Software Development Technician, Antonio Patacho, provides an example of temperature monitoring on a Combilift C-Series multi-directional forklift.

“Each wheel on the C-Series has a traction motor, and these motors should be operating at the same temperature.

“Now imagine that after a few hours work, one motor is 30 degrees hotter than the other. The operator won’t feel this difference because the motor is still within ‘normal’ range, and there’s no faults indicated on the screen. Without noticing the temperature anomaly, an operator wouldn’t know to investigate,” explained Patacho.

According to Patacho, it’s the difference between acting on a problem while it’s small or waiting for it to become a significant issue. Either way, without such data, the business wouldn’t have a choice.

“With Combi Connect, we can monitor those motor temperatures to detect anomalies. In this scenario with one motor running at a higher temperature, it could be due to a fan connector becoming unplugged – a simple, $5 fix.

“But if it goes unnoticed, the motor will start to degrade and eventually fail. Not only is the replacement of the motor much more expensive – probably in the range of $1000 – this type of failure could stop production which can translate to a much bigger financial loss,” said Patacho.

In an industry – nay, a world – where sustainability is claiming more attention, these types of solutions are becoming more valuable. Combi Connect’s benefits in predictive maintenance allow businesses to avoid the economic and environmental costs that come with sourcing new parts.

Additionally, the finite data delivered by the software allows operators to optimise their fuel, oil, and charging requirements. This enables further sustainability and efficiency across entire operations. When a machine is maintained as well as Combi Connect allows, it can run much smoother for far longer than one that’s neglected.

Combi Connect can be used for myriad reasons including preventative maintenance, fuel consumption analysis, fleet location, remote updates and more. It’s easily integrated with existing systems and helps to keep track of internal performance indicators.

One of the reasons the product can achieve so much is its modular design. Patacho explains how there is no one solution for every customer. Instead, Combi Connect is configured in various ways to solve unique customer problems.

“For example, if somebody needs to look at the vibration of the engine, then we fit the sensor. But we don’t fit this to any of our machines by default.

“If another customer wants driver access control, then we can fit that, but it doesn’t have to come as standard – we fit it how they want,” he said.

Once fitted, the data gathered by Combilift customers becomes an extremely valuable resource to any business. That’s why Combilift values transparency and gives access to any customer who requests it.

This is facilitated through a REST API, Patacho explains. Combilift gives every customer an access key, so they can request any signal and value for download to be used however they like.

“I see this as a partnership between Combilift, the dealers and the customers because it’s not just one side that is going to learn from the data.

“If the forklift from one customer has a certain problem, then we can use that information to benefits others with the same problem,” said Patacho.

With all this information at the ready, Combilift customers can be fully prepared to tackle the demands of modern materials handling.

More than that, they’ll confidently outshine their competition and build a partnership with Combilift (and Antonio) that lasts for life.

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