Why Monitor Online? 8 Reasons to Consider an Online Monitoring System

April 1, 2014

There are many reasons to consider an online vibration monitoring system.

  1. Criticality: This is the most common reason why online monitoring systems are installed. Air compressors, main mill drives, chillers, or any potential production bottlenecks are the primary candidates.
  2. Safety: Rotating equipment can be dangerous to be around. Excessive noise, heat or moving product can be a treacherous environment in which to work. Often guards, interlocks, safety devices, and other safety-related obstructions prevent us from getting good data. This is especially true in containment areas, hazardous locations and in confined spaces.
  3. Accessibility: Just because the machine is visible does not mean that it is accessible. The area may be restricted, moving equipment may block access to it, or the critical asset itself may move (such as a locomotive or mining equipment that is not readily accessible). Complicating considerations are commonly related to cost, logistics or manpower.
  4. Remote Locations: Distant pumping stations, offshore platforms, or a shipboard machinery at sea may make onsite data collection and analysis very difficult and expensive to justify. An online monitoring system can be the ideal solution for these situations.
  5. Time & Cost: Often an asset runs intermittently or is only used in certain cycles. Sometimes the cost of assigning a person to collect the data and the time it takes to travel to and from an asset is greater than the value of the data it offsets. If this cost and time, including waiting time for the machine to run a cycle, exceeds the perceived value of the manually collected data, on online system might be considered.
  6. New Equipment: An online system may be useful for new rotating assets, especially if they embody a new design for which little or no historical data exists, or involve high criticality or just need to be monitored to ensure they function  correctly through the new equipment break-in period or warranty period.
  7. Older Equipment: If an asset needs to be nursed through late life cycle stages and monitored for continued proper operation even though it is entering the wear-out zone of its components, an online system will give the information needed to make those judgment calls or to buy enough time to get through a production run.
  8. Unique Machinery: For machines that are one-of-a-kind, unusual, or might contain a great deal of foreign content whose replacement parts have a long delivery lead time, an online system will give the advance warning one needs to avoid service disruptions.

Thanks to Jay Gensheimer with Solute LLC for this valuable post.

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Alignment on a Wind Turbine: What kind of difficulty are you faced with?

March 27, 2014

LUDECAwind was recently hired to perform an alignment on a wind turbine. Although the turbine was quite modern in size, capability, and throughput, its design and functionality for wind service technicians to perform their tasks is outdated. The technicians are barely able to stand straight or get around the turbine without compromising their safety.

With the obstacles of working inside the nacelle, the difficulty of aligning the wind turbine seems even greater considering the procedures which need to be followed and the number of components which need to be removed for accessibility to perform this task. There was a misconception that in order to perform any type of alignment, the coupling needed to be removed. The beauty of using our OPTALIGN SMART RS laser alignment wind system is that the technician is not required to remove the coupling to execute the task. No matter the size of the turbine, type of coupling, or interference around the working area, using a laser alignment system inside a nacelle not only saves time but provides true, accurate and repeatable data.

Wind turbine alignment

We were able to mount the OPTALIGN SMART RS wind system, collect repeatable and accurate data, and make all necessary corrections in a short amount of time. The customer was impressed with the system’s ease of use of and the accuracy obtained, considering the less than ideal conditions with high winds of approximately 13 m/s, which had no effect on the quality of the data collected.

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You’ve got it! Why not use it? Taking advantage of visual inspections.

March 25, 2014

You’ve got it, so why not use it? What am I talking about? Besides your VibXpert vibration analyzer you probably have other tools that can be utilized with to deliver additional reliability information to your management and facility.

1. Visual inspections can be logged into your vibration routes to help your facility keep on top of a number of things, like:

a. Transformer cleanliness

You can log the transformer as:

  • Clean
  • Slightly Contaminated
  • Dirty–Needs Attention
  • Very contaminated – (reduced cooling capacity!)

b. Motor cooling fin cleanliness (same as [a])

c. Plant area cleanliness

  • Clean
  • Slightly Contaminated
  • Dirty–needs attention
  • Very contaminated – possible safety hazard

d. Plant area fire equipment condition

  • Fire Equipment Ready!
  • Hose missing!
    1. Valve wrench missing!
    2. Nozzle missing!
  • Extinguisher missing!

e. Record pressure, amperage, megawatts, etc. from gauges.

The list of uses for visual inspections goes on and on. Each inspection can be trended and reported. Many facilities struggle to keep up with some very important equipment or conditions around the plant, because it may not be easily worked into daily routines. If you are already in a routine of collecting vibration data, then you should take advantage of visual inspections. Add all the value you can to your tours through the plant! Find out what the Maintenance Manager or Production Manager might be very interested in knowing on a regular basis and add it to an existing route!

2. Do you have a strobe light? You can use it along with the “Visual Inspection” process spoken of above, and do visual inspections on critical machine couplings even while the machine is in operation. Take great care to remain safe, while getting valuable visual inspection data.

3. Do you have an infrared thermometer gun? If so, you can connect it to your VibXpert to record critical temperatures during a route and trend them. These are just a few suggestions of additional value you may be able to add to your maintenance and reliability efforts from other tools already in your kit and through visual inspections and data logging activities.

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Piano wire played its last tune after successful laser bore alignment with CENTRALIGN

March 20, 2014

A few weeks ago, I was doing training at an engine overhaul shop in the Midwest. They had just purchased a CENTRALIGN ULTRA STANDARD system to perform bore alignment checks, before reassembly of each engine (see Figure 1.) After showing the mechanics how to set up the laser and take measurements on the first bore (the one furthest from the laser, as recommended), they were eager to take over and measure the bores themselves. Before purchasing the CENTRALIGN system, they were using piano wire as their alignment tool. Now it’s a much faster and more reliable process with our laser system.

Bore Measurement Laser Setup

We shot the laser beam roughly through the center of all bores to create a point of reference for each bore. Next, we measured each of the bores to obtain the position of each bore with respect to the laser line. With the ability to take as many points per bore as we did, we were also able to tell if each bore was out of round. We took at least eight points along the surface of each bore, and then re-measured the entire engine to establish repeatability. The mechanics were amazed at how easy it was to measure with a laser, in comparison to the painstaking and difficult piano wire method.

After measuring each bore, I showed them how to look at the quality factor (see Figure 2.) Seeing that they could improve their quality by taking more points, they were able to improve their measurement process. By time they were on the last bore (the one nearest the laser emitter), the quality of their readings was near 100%. Finally, the bores at each end were fixed in the firmware to establish a reference line for the rest of the bores.

Bore Measurement Quality

Fig. 2: Quality factors

The centerline position of each bore in the engine could now be established with respect to this line (see Figure 3.)

Bore Measurement Results

Fig. 3: Bore alignment results through two fixed points

Another interesting feature of the Centralign is that the bore alignment can be optimized to a centerline that minimizes the misalignment of the entire bore train, rather than arbitrarily establishing a reference line through any two of them. Another feature allows one to see a differential view of the alignment, which establishes the misalignment of any individual bore to a reference line formed by its two adjacent neighbors. This often saves unnecessary correction or milling work if it can be seen that the misalignment of any one bore is not too great with respect to its nearest neighbors—a very handy feature.

The mechanics were happy with the results obtained as these matched the readings they had taken with the piano wire. At the end of the training, one gentleman exclaimed, “I won’t ever use piano wire again!”

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Proper mounting of permanently installed sensors & wiring on rotating equipment

March 18, 2014

Maintenance departments are often expected to collect data on critical equipment in a consistent manner in order to monitor the efficiency and maximize the life of such equipment. Doing this manually can pose safety or health hazards to those responsible for collecting the data. The solution is to install permanently mounted sensors with wiring directed to a termination/switch box.

There are several ways to permanently mount the sensor to the machinery, but the most common are:

  • Adhesive: This consists of using a strong epoxy-like adhesive that will allow for a sturdy mounting. It is very critical that the two surfaces be thoroughly cleaned with a steel wire brush to remove any paint and/or corrosion that can compromise the integrity of the bond between the sensor and the machine.
  • Drilling and tapping: This consists of drilling a hole into the casing of the machine and then tapping the hole to the thread of the stud included with the sensor. This last method is the preferred method as it will guarantee a completely solid bond between the sensor and the machine

Switch Box Vibration Data Collection

For whichever of the above methods is chosen, cabling will have to be routed. It is important to route the cable through conduit so that it is protected from harsh temperatures or exposure that can potentially cause damage. When possible, utilizing a cable trough will help keep the cabling organized and away from any of the rotating components of the machine. Labeling the cables will guarantee that the final wiring in the termination/switch box becomes a smooth process. Once the routing of the cable is completed, thanks to the labeling of the cables, the wiring to the termination/switch box becomes very simple.   Once the permanently mounted sensors are installed, the analyst in charge of the Condition Monitoring program can safely collect data with the help of a capable data collector such as the VibXpert II. This will help the plant maintain a world class reliability and maintenance program while ensuring the safety of their employees.

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Come by our Booth & Attend our Alignment Sessions at our APRIL 2014 Industry Events

March 17, 2014

We will have all our shaft alignment, pulley alignment and vibration analysis and balancing maintenance-related products on display at the following trade shows:

Booth# 1053
April 1 – 3
New Orleans, LA
Register today with code: LUDECA14

Booth# 30
April 8 – 11
Las Vegas, NV
Attend our session: Why should we misalign machines? Targets and Tolerances on Thursday, April 10, 1 – 1:45 pm by Steve Lochard

Booth# 622
April 22 – 24
San Antonio, TX
Attend our Maintenance Management Session: The Importance of Precision Machine Alignment by Steve Lochard

LSU Continuing Education
April 28 – May 1
Baton Rouge, LA
Attend our course: Alignment Best Practices and Laser Alignment “Hands-On” on Monday, April 29 from 8 am – 5 pm by Pedro Casanova.
Register today

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