Stora Enso and DBSantasalo: GearWatch enhances the reliability of critical gears

Two men talking together in front of heavy machinery..
“Condition monitoring of industrial gear systems using conventional, previous-generation measurement methods has often been challenging and therefore also time-consuming and costly.

The GearWatch system is changing that by shifting the focus from condition monitoring to condition management. Detecting changes in the condition of the equipment early on using advanced measurement methods allows the condition of the equipment to be managed and, in the best cases, failures to be entirely prevented,” says David Brown Santasalo’s Sales Director Harri Koivuvirta.

David Brown Santasalo is focussing strongly on developing remote condition monitoring. Using the latest technology, GearWatch offers entirely new insight into the condition monitoring of gears and other rotating devices.

Stora Enso introduced GearWatch condition monitoring systems at its pulp plant and hydropower plant in Varkaus. The Pro Systems used are tailored to the equipment and include vibration measurements of both gears and electric motors, and even generators. Online particle counting and oil quality measurements are used on all gears. As a GearWatch innovation, offline filter systems and maintenance monitoring measurements are used as an integrated package in splash-lubricated gear units. 

Stora Enso conducted pilot at Varkaus

A pilot project in which the data generated by GearWatch is integrated with Stora Enso’s cloud-based systems was carried out at Varkaus. The project is part of Stora Enso’s smarter maintenance strategy 2020–2025, in which the condition monitoring data generated by GearWatch will also be integrated with the data analytics system.  

“In long-term analytics we can use the data generated by GearWatch as a life-cycle-management tool. It gives us a better picture of how malfunctions and costs are developing, and allows us to plan repairs and investments in a timely manner,” says Project Manager Pasi Ojala of Stora Enso.

According to Ojala, Stora Enso has a strategy, organisation and funding for various trials in the Group’s innovation funnel, which validates the benefits of pilot projects. The projects that are truly beneficial and bring added value are the ones that succeed in the digital environment. The pilot projects are always tested at a mill.

“I quickly noticed how the condition monitoring personnel gained more tools for their work. With the results now reported to the online system, it is no longer necessary to go right up to the equipment to measure vibration levels. We are able to detect signs of a malfunction early on. Besides vibration measurements, we also gain information on the development of oil quality and the volume of wear metal particles,” says Marko Turunen, who is in charge of the mill’s preventive maintenance. 

“We have been using GearWatch here at Varkaus for a bit less than a year, and I have been very pleased with the system. The system makes it easy to present the condition of the monitored equipment to personnel that have no prior experience or little experience of condition monitoring or oil analyses,” says Turunen. 

Oil is the lifeblood of a gear unit

According to DBSantasalo, the GearWatch system can be tailored to the special needs and criticality of the equipment being monitored. 

“Oil is like the lifeblood of a gear unit. By ensuring that the lubrication works properly, there is no moisture in the oil, the oil is clean, and there are no wear metal particles in the oil circulation, we maintain the gear system’s and therefore also the entire plant’s operational reliability,” says GearWatch Product Manager Mika Hirvonen of DBSantasalo.

Text Leif Lindberg