Pump Monitoring Increases Life Span of 250 Pumps
Steel mill uses Flowrox Digital Services for pump monitoring of 250 pumps, aiming to increase their lifetime. Monitoring more than just vibration is necessary to encapsulate full picture of total cost of ownership and potential savings.
Current state of pump monitoring in the process industry
The process industry has been slow to adopt digitalized solutions. Industry is stuck in a wait-and-see type of scenario of trying to determine the best solution and what is best for their facilities. The wave of potential industrial internet of things (IIoT) options are multiple and could provide viable cost-saving solutions to customers. The key is to step off the sidelines and take the leap.
Here is how digitalization can assist daily decision-making in the process industry globally.
Vibration Monitoring is Only a Starting Point
In today’s environment, there is a lot of attention being given to vibration monitoring of pumps and other rotating equipment. There are real benefits to be gained by monitoring vibration. Pumps are vital pieces of process machinery and too often they are the least monitored equipment in many process facilities.
In many operations, pumps are run to failure and repair and replacement costs are extreme. Catching bearing damage early can minimize repair costs and the extent of the repairs can be less extensive and time consuming. Also, process downtime can be minimized.
After less than one month of monitoring, bearing wear was detected in one of the pumps.
Taking Pump Monitoring to New Heights
One United States steel company began an effort to improve pump performance and extend pump life. A typical steel mill consumes 35,000 gallons of water to produce 1 ton of steel. This steel company was replacing $80,000 pumps annually. Under normal conditions a typical process pump should be able to survive five to 10 years.
The steel company wanted to monitor vibration and many other issues. First, the steel company wanted to be able to visualize if the pump was running on or close to the manufacturer’s pump curve. The existing control system lacked analytics that would allow them to monitor pump curve performance. They also wanted to monitor energy consumption.
Monitoring Brings Energy Savings
Then, finally, other new instruments were installed to help them analyze cavitation, vibration, impeller wear, pump suction starvation and energy consumption of each individual pump. The steel mill has more than 250 large centrifugal pumps with 750-horsepower motors. Simply by monitoring energy consumption of each of the pumps, the mill can find significant savings in energy consumption.
Flowrox first developed a 3D image of the pumps and several metrics that were being analyzed. If measured variables exceed a certain band of what is considered normal operation, alarms can be triggered to key personnel at the steel mill that a certain pump requires attention.
Digital image created of pump and surrounding equipment. Bearing temperature, vibration, inlet pressure, outlet pressure, flow and motor current are all being monitored in the above graphs.
Comparing Performance of Different Pump Brands
With precise monitoring, each pump can be analyzed based on its own energy consumption. It can be quickly determined which pump runs the most energy efficiently. With different brands of pumps, consumers can begin to monitor brand versus brand performance and determine which is more energy efficient. Pump faults also can be monitored, and users will have information at hand to understand which pump operates the most trouble-free and have the least number of repairs.
Knowing which brand of pump has the lowest total cost of ownership will become clear for all decision-makers. Of course, to perform true, unbiased analysis, each pump should be new when analysis begins and process conditions for each pump should be identical. Exact process conditions are often very difficult to duplicate in process environments, but data will allow pump owners to be better prepared to evaluate one brand versus another.
In the above graph, top right-hand corner, pump motor efficiency is examined. It is clear pump C runs more energy efficiently than pump B.
Pump Curve Analysis and Best Efficiency Point (BEP)
A pump that is run off the manufacturer’s pump curve and far away from the best efficiency point (BEP) are under constant stress. The pump will experience more damaging vibration and wear. During startup, it is normal that a pump runs off the pump curve temporarily, but if it runs there daily for long periods, undesirable damage will be done to the pump.
In the steel mill example, the steel mill requires more water for cooling in the summer months. In the winter, much less water is consumed. This steel mill was accustomed to running two pumps during summer months and having a third pump as a standby. However, during the winter months they continued to run two pumps at much lower flow rates. This created a situation where both pumps were run far off their pump curve and very far from the BEP. So, these two pumps were constantly under significant stress and unnecessary wear.
Flowrox Digital Services Help Determine Best Efficiency Point
Through Flowrox, Digital Services were employed, and the steel mill gained clear visualization, alarms and monitoring of the pumps’ performance. Digital services recommended that one of the pumps be turned off during the winter months. By running only one pump, that pump operated very close to the manufacturer’s pump curve and well within the bell curve of the BEP.
How Pump Monitoring Improves Lifetime?
Flowrox Digital services monitoring can improve pump lifetime. Through energy consumption monitoring, determining the most energy-efficient pump to run could result in annual savings in excess of $40,000 per year. The pumps will spend less time under stress conditions or outside the BEP. Therefore, repairs should be less frequent, be detected earlier and be less costly. One of the ultimate goals is to extend pump lifetime, reduce repairs and maintenance costs.
In the above graphs, the pumps are analyzed comparing current head versus flow to determine where the pump is performing according to the manufacturer’s pump curve. The manufacturer’s best efficiency point (BEP) is compared to the actual pump’s performance. Finally, the power consumed versus flow is examined in the bottom left graph. Visually the steel mill can monitor all pump performance. Different pumps have different performance and energy consumption.
Digitalization of More Than Just Pumps
As stated previously, vibration monitoring is a great starting place. But with the right solution, much more can be accomplished with digitalization. Any brand or any style of pump can be analyzed with digitalization services. One brand can be compared to another brand, and users can determine real documented cost of ownership. Pumps are not the only pieces of equipment that can benefit from digitalized services. Conveyors, ball mills, blowers, screens and other types of process machinery are all basic examples of machinery that owners could benefit through digitalized services.
Todd Loudin, President North American Operations/V.P. Global Sales, Flowrox