Prize winning sensor

Engineers at ABB have won an innovation award for developing a wireless vibration sensor that could revolutionize the maintenance of electric motors.

Engineers at ABB have won an innovation award at a major oil and gas industry conference in Houston, Texas, for developing a wireless vibration sensor that could revolutionise the maintenance of electric motors.

The device, called Wivib, has been developed in collaboration with external partners for use on small motors. Analysis of data about the vibrations of a motor enables abnormalities in its performance to be identified at an early stage.

‘The sensor paves the way for oil companies to introduce completely new strategies for the maintenance of electric motors,’ said Egil Birkemoe, who headed the ABB development. ‘With Wivib, handheld equipment used for this kind of monitoring today will become a thing of the past.’

The Spotlight on New Technology prize was awarded to ABB at the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston, one of the industry’s main trade shows, where the product was shown for the first time.

Wivib, one of several new products to win the award at OTC, is expected to be ready for market in 2009.

The device has an expected lifetime of five years and will reduce the cost of maintenance as well as extend the lifetime of electric motors. The sensor is Ex-proof certified (certified for operation in hazardous environments) and is suitable for use in the offshore sector. In principle, however, it can be used in all industrial sectors with the same benefits.

Wivib is being jointly developed by ABB’s oil and gas business unit in Norway and Corporate Research in Sweden, in cooperation with SKF and Sintef. In addition, the project is receiving financial support from the Research Council of Norway through its Petromaks programme, as well as from several oil companies including StatoilHydro and BP.

Egil Birkemoe and Borghild Lunde, ABB’s head of technology for oil, gas and petrochemicals, received the award on the opening day of the conference.