Posted at 01-Mar-2018

SmartCheck Condition Monitoring in the Steel Industry

Paul Skade
By Gareth Pollard
Product Manager, Bearings

I started work at ERIKS UK in March 2001 after being on a temporary contract at Ball Packaging Europe. 

My life at ERIKS began as a Junior Inside Sale...

Read full bio

Automotive manufacturers, and the construction and household appliance industries, have a large appetite for coated steel. A major steel producer in France has been doing its best to keep it satisfied, producing over 340,000 tonnes of finished coated steel product every year. What’s prevented them producing even more have been failures of the deflection rolls which support the running of the steel belt through their continuous furnace. 


The producer’s maintenance department was doing its best. But operating a reactive maintenance regime meant that damaged bearings or housings were too often leading to an immediate stoppage of the continuous furnace, with a resulting significant loss of production.


Instead of “firefighting” when imbalance, excessive clearance or a feather key fracture caused the deflection rolls to fail, the engineers needed a solution to allow them to operate a predictive maintenance regime with condition monitoring.  

Smart thinking

The steel producer approached Schaeffler for help in finding the answer. Schaeffler didn’t disappoint – coming up with an innovative service concept to help the company avoid unplanned stoppages and maintain production.

The solution involves no fewer than 14 Schaeffler SmartCheck condition monitoring systems, to monitor all the critical components of the continuous furnace. This includes monitoring oscillation of all seven deflection rolls, their bearings and bearing housings.

The SmartCheck sensors are set-up to identify and record bearing vibration, bearing temperature, rolling bearing components, lubrication, roll surface condition, roll imbalances and alignments. 

Taking Control

A Schaeffler SmartController was also installed in a control cabinet, to act as a bi-directional gateway between the SmartCheck sensors and the customer's control system.

The whole system is powered by Power-over-Ethernet, which not only acts as a power supply but also enables communication with the customer's monitoring station using the minimum amount of cabling.


With the SmartCheck system up and running, the customer has been able to detect impending damage to bearings and adjacent mechanical components at a very early stage. This means countermeasures can be taken in good time to prevent catastrophic failure and unplanned production shutdowns.

Bearing condition is continuously tracked without having to stop the machine. This awareness of the condition of bearings and other components at all times allows the engineering team to better plan any maintenance work to fit around work schedules, planned shutdowns etc.

The result has been impressive cost savings as shown below

Shutdowns v Savings

  • Cost of unscheduled shutdowns without furnace standstill - €35,000
  • Cost of unscheduled shutdown with furnace standstill - €200,000



  • One-off expenses for condition monitoring system - €20,000
  • Cost of scheduled maintenance - €1,000
  • Effective savings
    •  without furnace standstill – approx. €14,000
    •  with furnace standstill – approx. €179,000


Even if an unplanned shutdown of your own production process wouldn’t be quite so costly, you could still realise significant savings by switching from reactive to predictive maintenance. By identifying problems before they become crises, condition monitoring can help you to maintain your equipment at its optimum cost-efficiency and effectiveness.

To find out more about Schaeffler SmartCheck, contact your local ERIKS Service Centre. It could help to set your productivity alight.


Want to read more...?

Why not take a look at the latest edition of our magazine, Know+How, packed with the latest industry news, reliability improvements and best practice

Reliability is a buzzword that is seemingly always on the tip of industry tongues, but it’s clear that businesses need to be more proactive in their attempt to maximise their assets.

In this issue, we look beyond equipment, but at processes, systems, strategy and communication.

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