What does an IIoT-enabled pump look like?
HOW ONLINE MONITORING IS IMPROVING PUMP MAINTENANCE BY BRETT BURGER, PRINCIPAL MARKETING ENGINEER, NI.
The Internet of Things (IoT) connects billions of people through software apps like Twitter and WhatsApp and platforms like iOS and Android. IoT concepts and low-level technology are bleeding into the industrial space and boosting business efficiency. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) will eventually connect tens of billions of “things” businesses use to operate with other machines, the cloud, control systems, and people. Pumps are squarely on the list of “things,” and, like many other big iron assets that don’t generate high-tech publicity, pumps have much to gain with this surge of technology. But why do we need IIoT pumps? And what does an IIoT-enabled pump look like?
Uptime is under fire from evolving challenges that add risk and cost to operations. However, as fossil power generation plants continually seek ways to improve performance and reduce costs, online condition monitoring is being implemented to help address scaling monitoring not just for critical assets but also balance of plant equipment. This improves the reliability and uptime across the entire power plant. Though pumps illustrate a “thing” to be monitored, potential applications include thermal performance and monitoring, emissions monitoring, equipment condition monitoring, system performance and alarm management, and data trending.
Further compounding this uptime problem is the fast-approaching retirement age of many of the maintenance professionals responsible for keeping motors, pumps, and drives operational. They retire and immediately turn to private consulting because of the current industry demand fuelled by the lack of qualified professionals to replace them. This is especially difficult considering a portion of a maintenance professional’s time is spent on a route in transit between assets to take manual measurements. Fewer maintenance personnel in the field means the ones who are there spend even more of their time gathering data, much of which is from healthy, operational assets. The goal is to find the problems before costly downtime, and measuring healthy assets is part of the price paid to reduce that risk.
Another challenge involves the age of the commissioned assets. Older motors and pumps can cost more to keep running and can increase the risk of an unplanned outage. In short, more assets need to be monitored more often when fewer professionals are available in the industry to keep them operating. For process industries, the health of pumps, motors, and drives can be the difference between a smooth shift and a costly unplanned outage. To avoid unplanned downtime, reliability and availability are staples of safe power plant operations. Maintaining equipment, such as pumps, to high-performance standards improves the understanding of pump degradation. A key part in maintaining high reliability is the use of advanced online monitoring technologies that allow for the continuous monitoring of plant processes. According to the EIA (LINK: http://www.eia. gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=1830), US power generation fleet components range greatly in age. Hydropower generators tend to be the oldest with nuclear generators right behind them. In contrast, most new capacity includes natural gas-fired power plants and the renewable, primarily wind, resources coming online in the 2000s. Monitoring technologies across a distributed network detect potential problems and provide warnings of equipment failure or performance degradations. IIoT technology offers a better way to operate that addresses these challenges using technology such as edge computing, analytics, cloud access, and mobile device support. Ten years ago, the technology needed to address these challenges was costly and the severity of these challenges was low. Moore’s law, software platforms, the cloud, and connected devices are inspiring smarter maintenance plans. Recently at Offshore Technology Conference 2016 in Houston, four companies, NI, HPE, PTC, and Flowserve, showcased an intelligent pump to demonstrate a variety of technologies that address industry challenges and help businesses operate more efficiently.
The process of automatically monitoring this pump begins with a variety of sensor technologies. The pump is outfitted with multiple sensors measuring vibration, voltage, current, temperature, pressure, and flow rate. IIoT gateways designed to connect operational technology to information technology, specifically for brownfield applications, need to be open enough to support a range of sensors including new sensor technologies as they are merged into the IIoT platform. For this demo, a single intelligent gateway aggregates data from all of the connected sensors and chooses whether to conduct local processing at the asset for event triggers and alarms. Remember how maintenance professionals spend a lot of time in transit between assets? By shifting from a manual-route- based maintenance routine to one that uses online monitoring for critical and near critical assets, businesses can monitor more machines more often and enable their workforces to spend more time diagnosing and managing assets instead of walking or driving around to take measurements. The ability to compute power on the asset is an important feature to help analyze the data in near real time and improve the probability of catching transient phenomena. This ability also reduces the required network bandwidth since dynamic
ADVANCED MEASUREMENT SYSTEMS CAN BE INSTALLED ON EXISTING PUMP SYSTEMS TO ENABLE ONLINE CONDITION MONITORING AND FUTURE IIOT TECHNOLOGIES