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Energy Monitoring with Predictive Maintenance at a Palm Oil Mill Plant in Thailand

To help our client acquire power consumption data on the motors, ICP DAS utilized the three-phase smart power meters (PM-3133-360P), together with the IIoT power meter concentrator (PMC-5231M) to acquire the motors’ electric data. Later on, the electricity information could be saved and transmitted to the back-end SCADA system through Modbus TCP protocol. With help from the SCADA system’s electricity data integration, users can quickly decide their ideal predictive maintenance scheduling.


This client in this case is a palm oil production company where located in Thailand. The workers are mainly responsible for the palm kernel oil extraction. The palm kernel oil, riches in fatty acid, is a standard cash crop used for general purpose or industrial products. Besides, each fruit on the fruit bunch contains 50% oil, which can be widely used in products such as edible oil, biodiesel, cosmetics, etc.

Given that Thailand has a tropical climate, working in a palm oil production line would be very challenging. Besides, monitoring the feeds is considered to be time-consuming and laborious. Moreover, the maintenance work schedule will become relatively tricky for schedulers. But, there are more and more emerging IoT trends shaping our future; that is to say, some business leaders are paying more and more attention to the IIoT technology─Smart Factory and Smart Manufacturing. Therefore, we helped the client to accomplish four goals, namely Cost saving, Energy Saving, Electrical Safety, and Predictive Maintenance (PdM).

The Hidden Worries and Challenges that Factory Operators Encountered

The oil milling machine structure can be easily understood: a storage hopper, and the main part of the machine (the oil pressing screw, and the motor). In the palm oil manufacturing process, operators have to manually monitor the palm kernel seeds dropping from the storage hopper into the palm oil milling machine.

When the machine is overfed with the palm kernel seeds, the processing speed of the screw slow down due to the adhesive material stuck on the screw. In the meanwhile, the power consumption will increase sharply due to a ponderous motor rotation. Therefore, operators need to use a rod to spread the palm kernel seeds evenly at the feeding place.

However, these situations will increase the possibility of equipment shutdown, higher maintenance costs, and other potential issues. Furthermore, working in a heated environment is quite challenging, and employees’ safety and work efficiency are also vital concerns that should be considered. For example, manual supervision is prone to fatigue; product quality cannot be balanced; occupational accidents are prone to occur. Therefore, their business leader faced many worries and challenges that time.

A Transferring Power in the Family Business, Appealing for an Affordable Smart Manufacturing Plan

Due to some potential factors mentioned above, a new generation of family business leaders started making a difference ─ Smart Manufacturing. However, it was quite difficult for them to find a suitable solution at that time. The main reason for that is because the solution providers didn’t know much about their target customers’ current operating status and their economic conditions. On the contrary, ICP DAS has been dedicated to providing our customers with the best quality and services. Therefore, we conducted the site survey, provided them with an affordable 2-in-1 Smart Manufacturing Solution.

ICP DAS Monitoring Solution for the Power and Equipment Condition

● Hardware Diagram

As shown in the overall diagram (Figure 1), the ICP DAS three-phase smart meter (the PM-3133-360P) enables our users to obtain reliable and accurate energy consumption readings from the oil expellers. Therefore, we connected the three-phase smart meters with the voltage and current sensing wire of several on-site motors to collect the motor’s power consumption data. Besides, the smart meters are connected to a power meter concentrator (the PMC-5231M) through the Modbus RTU protocol. The PMC-5231M then stores and logically calculates the collected power information and sends it to the SCADA system through the Modbus TCP protocol.

Figure 1: System diagram of oil milling equipment

● Predictive Maintenance (PdM)

Our energy monitoring applications enable our client to judge the material feeding by different current loads shown in the software interface (Figure 2). It makes the power consumption data much more comfortable to be understood, which are not operating, medium load condition, and high load condition. If an operator notices that a specific oil milling machine is being frequently operated or the SCADA system continuously shows high load status, the leader can be informed in advance. By doing so, the client could have the machine maintained beforehand.

Figure 2: Understand the machine loading status through the visualization system

● On-site Configuration

Figure 3: The installation location of PM-3133-360P smart meter
Figure 4: The installation location of PMC-5231-4GC meter concentrator

Features and Benefits of ICP DAS Products


As there are more and more people paying attention to IIoT technology, ICP DAS has created several smart factory visions and plans for our clients. In general, we help our clients to acquire the data from our versatile I/O modules, together with the SCADA system to present the data in a unified way.

In this scenario, we finally solved this client’s pain points through the technical analysis and remarkable insights from the ICP DAS team. In addition to providing high-quality and high-precision smart meters, we also created win-win solutions for them. Moreover, we effectively increased the palm oil production capacity by 28% a year and much of their pain points were being solved successfully. That is to say, our power monitoring solution can not only display the power consumption data, but includes cost savings, energy saving, electrical safety, and predictive maintenance (PdM), which greatly increased the safety and bring the most profits to our valuable customers.

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ICP DAS was established in 1993 and strongly focuses on innovation and the enhancement of industrial automation technology. ICP DAS continuously endeavors to develop a comprehensive selection of products ranging from remote I/O controllers, distributed I/O modules, I/O data acquisition boards, programmable automation controllers, industrial communication modules, web-related products, motion control systems, SCADA/HMI software to automation solutions for applications critical to energy management, motion automation, smart factories, intelligent buildings, and smart cities. Our ambition is to provide a wide range of high-quality products and versatile applications, together with prompt and efficient services, that can be implemented to assist in the continued success of our clients worldwide.

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