The gang saw is a critical part of the lumber production process.  The  function of this saw is to cut cants into smaller sizes according to the merchandising prescription set by market demand.  Gang saws run constantly at high speeds but, they are only under load when cutting, which is when the highest level of damage occurs.  Motor and arbor bearings of the gang saw are extremely vulnerable to vibration damage due to high-speed operation, repeated loading and unloading cycles, and arbor misalignment or flexing.  The components of the gang saw are difficult to monitor because accumulation of large amounts of dust and debris can interfere with conventional monitoring equipment.  Failures associated with motor bearings and couplings, arbor bearings, and the arbor itself can cost a mill over 2 million dollars annually in lost production and repairs.



There are several challenges to effectively monitoring the health and operation of gang saws:

1. Saws are not under constant load, making it difficult to obtain reliable and consistent vibration measurements for analysis. 

2. Traditional route-based monitoring (if even possible) is time consuming, unreliable, and can expose the technician to unnecessary risks and dangers.  

3. Route-based monitoring necessarily results in large time gaps in data collection, where the health of the asset and onset of damage causing conditions is unknown.


Frequent loading and unloading of the motor and arbor misalignment or flex cause extremely high levels of damaging vibration and heat, which can cause the motor bearings and couplings to fail.


The arbor is the rotating shaft upon which the saw blades rotate.  Arbors that are misaligned or flex during cutting cause enormous stress to the arbor bearings resulting in excessive loading and failure. 


Misaligned arbors and/or arbors subject to excessive flexing can cause premature blade wear, poor product quality, and can even cause the arbor itself to break.


KCF Technologies IoT Hub is a proprietary solution that uniquely addresses the challenges of monitoring a gang saw’s critical components.  It enables the user to collect simultaneous data samples from each monitoring point and transmit the data wirelessly to a KCF Base Station.  The data can then be displayed in KCF’s proprietary software platform that enables real-time and historical trending of data and development of actionable alarms to alert the operator to developing damage causing conditions.  The data acquisition can be triggered through connection to the PLC so that each data sample can be taken at the same time when the motor and arbor are cutting under load. Consistent measurements during load cycles will enable far more reliable data to diagnosis developing damaging conditions and plan appropriate corrective action.   The IoT Hub will also enable the operator and maintenance team to immediately determine if repairs and maintenance were performed correctly.

Until the introduction of the IoT Hub, there was no effective commercially available solution to capture regular, consistent, and simultaneous data points during the most critical time during the operation of the saw—when it is cutting and under load. WHY? Because of the difficulty in accessing the critical monitoring points, the need to capture data when the motor and arbor are under load, and large data gaps that are inherent in route-base monitoring, consistent and reliable data could not be obtained through route-based monitoring. 



The IoT Hub sensors are located precisely on the system components that are identified as most problematic, including the motor, and arbors. KCF analysts begin with the standard vulnerabilities and work with the operations and maintenance team to tailor it to the individual application.


While the IoT Hub is a wireless monitoring solution, its design allows for remote placement of the radio transmitter.   It can be kept clear of production waste accumulation that can interfere with data transfer.


In collaboration with the operators, the system is configured to acquire data at the precise time when the known failures or damaging conditions occur.  This typically would require a complex wired system that is cost prohibitive for most applications.  KCF’s IoT Hub makes this affordable and relatively easy to install to an existing PLC.


Based on new information, KCF analysts can perform training to the maintenance and operation team and provide guidance regarding best practices for operation and maintenance to extend system life.


All machines and processes change over time and are subject to variability in maintenance, wear, and operational variability.  The Sentry team from KCF works with the operations and maintenance team to adapt the solution, constantly learning of new vulnerabilities and changing the data acquisition and sensor configuration to enable continuous improvement.


KCF personnel work with the operations team to suggest changes that reduce the damage and risk factor.  These can include changes to speed of blades, feed rate, and other factors.  Over time, the real-time monitoring data can be programmed to feed information directly to the system controls, enable automatic system improvement.

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