It’s estimated that 85% of pumps are not optimized to their systems, costing end users both efficiency and reliability. To achieve operational excellence and reduce environmental impact, assessing and improving our systems is essential.
There is a lot of focus on buying new equipment with a higher energy efficiency rating. In reality, the efficiency gains available in optimizing efficiency within the pump design is usually dwarfed by the energy savings available by optimizing the way the pump operates within its system. Not only does optimizing a pump to its system result in a reduction in energy usage, it allows the pump to operate at its best efficiency point (BEP), where reliability is the greatest.
With today’s technology, optimizing a pumping system is achievable with less cost and a greater return on investment. Advancements in testing capabilities and analytical modeling help us to better understand and predict how fluid moves through a system, allowing us to identify more opportunities for improvement. These technologies also eliminate the uncertainty of planned modifications by assessing their effectiveness in a virtual environment.
When optimizing a pump to its system, it’s important to have a holistic mindset- looking beyond the pump boundaries, considering both mechanical and hydraulic performance, and understanding that system operation is affected as much by the people who operate it as it is the physical system itself. What tools are useful to have in your toolbox when approaching a system optimization project?
With the advent of machine learning, great strides have been made in using Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technology to drive smarter and more efficient plant operation and maintenance. But how do you start on this connected plant journey and what is the ultimate destination?
Starting the process of implementing new technologies can be intimidating, but you don’t have to venture out into the digital frontier alone. This article maps out the journey from initial data collection to system optimization and points out some important guideposts along the way.
Collect More Data, More EfficientlyThe first step for developing a connected plant may sound basic, but it is essential for everything that follows. Collecting the right data at high frequency intervals is the cornerstone of moving your plant into the digital world. Minimizing the time between collected data points and ensuring that your hardware has a range capable of detecting all failure modes will provide greatly improved line of sight to transient events and incipient problems.Collected data connects both artificial intelligence and human intelligence with monitored equipment. Data needs to be stored and analyzed in an environment where it is accessible by internal and external subject matter experts. With cloud-based access to information and automated alerts sent through email or SMS, equipment owners no longer need to jump through hoops to get information on current equipment health.Route-based maintenance or “islands” of information are roadblocks on the connected plant journey.
Integrate Information on Plant Operation Getting information on equipment condition is an important step forward, but to give this information perspective it is important to integrate it with data related to equipment design and operation. Collecting inputs such as vibration and temperature can help provide a clear picture of how the equipment is operating, but system data will help refine why it is operating this way.For example, inputting the original tested pump performance data can provide perspective on how much performance is degraded or how the operating point relates to the best efficiency point. Another example would be integrating information on plant load or flow control valve position; correlating system load with equipment behavior provides perspective on how operation is directly affecting monitored inputs.
Predict Future Performance and ProblemsOnce data points are being collected at high frequency intervals and operating data is available, the groundwork is established to start becoming more predictive. Monitored inputs can produce a detailed picture of current condition. Correlating different operating modes with changes in observed data provides a basis for anticipating future behavior under varying conditions.In this phase, the analytical software used becomes an important factor as algorithms are finetuned to provide more accurate predictions. Actual outcomes are fed back into the software to provide validation of these predictions and train it to better interpret monitored information. On the human side, experience with equipment design, maintenance, and behavior are crucial for supporting the machine learning process. This human element is also critical in assessing risk based on predictions supplied by the software.
Detect Anomalies Instead of Blind AlertsWhile automated alerts are a good first step in making your digital resources work for your maintenance strategy, considerable value is realized when your system can differentiate anomalies from expected behavior. This requires training AI-driven software to recognize “normal” equipment behavior.A pump may exhibit high vibration from its commissioning and frequently exceed recommended alarm values- but this behavior does not necessarily represent a maintenance concern. Conversely, equipment with a smooth operating history that suddenly exhibits a vibration spike indicates a problem even if that vibration does not reach the set alert boundary.Separating anomalies from steady trends will greatly improve identification of incipient problems so that actions can be taken before substantial damage occurs.
Diagnose Root Causes with ConfidenceOnce the software can classify different types of behavior, it can be taught what failure modes are associated with that specific set of observed conditions. This is another area where having a subject matter expert support software development is very important. With expert input, the software can learn to recognize patterns in the monitored data and suggest possible failure modes as they develop in real-time.When monitoring software reaches the point where it can intelligently diagnose events, it provides the plant with actionable information. Instead of starting a root cause investigation with a blank sheet of paper, you can quickly perform validation steps for suspected failure modes. This can significantly shorten downtime caused by equipment unavailability.
Get Proactive and Eliminate Potential Problems
With the software’s advanced diagnostic capabilities trained, the output can be used to develop a proactive approach to maintenance. When failure modes are recognized, engineered solutions can be developed to extend equipment life. After solution implementation, the software can analyze the efficacy of the fix and continue to monitor equipment condition to make sure that new failure modes were not introduced.Innovative methods of monitoring or analyzing the data can be used to further understand and trend the health of the system. For example, instead of just monitoring vibration, parameters can be measured that allow the software to calculate efficiency and correlate this to changes pump wear ring clearance. By trending more sophisticated values, your plant can get closer to the monitoring the causal factors of degradation rather than just measuring their effect.
Optimize Design and OperationThe end of the connected plant journey is an optimized approach to maintenance, operations, and engineering. Developing technology that does the bulk of the processing and analytics frees up our human resources to focus on what they do best- using their experience and insight to interpret grey areas, assess risk, and plan ahead.With a proactive maintenance plan, equipment condition can be trended and maintenance intervals extended by making changes that positively affect equipment health.On the operations side, understanding efficiency can inform decisions of what machines to run in parallel. Being able to operate the most efficient piece of equipment will result in energy savings, directly reducing the cost of operation. Historical data can also be used to optimize the combination of equipment being run at different plant loads.Plant engineers can use the connected plant output to take a deeper look at their systems and determine if the original design still suits current operation. Equipment design can then be optimized to provide operation that is safer, more efficient, and more reliable.Lastly, a well-developed IIoT strategy will help equipment, equipment owners, and subject matter experts stay connected to the data and to each other, optimizing communication and flow of information.
Wireless Condition monitoring, the perfect combination of man and machine. Where human experience and secure machine data collection create a long-term strategy for your operation. Beyond basic data trends machine health, take a chance at Centaur for your rotating equipment. Apply for a free trial today.
Note: This article was originally published on bicmagazine.com.
Earlier this year, the Hydraulic Institute held its 2023 Annual Conference in Tucson, AZ where attendees and participants came together and shared their knowledge and experiences to further advance the pump industry. It is also an opportunity for the Hydraulic Institute to appoint new board members.
On April 10, the Hydraulic Institute released a statement announcing the new board members and their roles. Our very own John Donatiello, Senior Vice President of Strategy and Business Development, was appointed to the seat of Treasurer.
Many pump users focus on efficiency ratings when purchasing new equipment, but a much greater source of wasted energy is found when looking at the overall system instead of limiting optimization to the pump design itself. It is rare that a system is operating with equipment that is optimized to deliver flow while operating close to its best efficiency point. More often, pumps are oversized for their systems and achieve the desired flow rate by throttling a valve. The friction added by this valve changes the system curve to achieve the design operating flow; this action is one of the greatest sources of wasted energy in a pump system. Continue reading →
Many industries are facing a difficult situation as they struggle to maintain operational excellence of an aging asset base. The difficulties that come with older equipment have been aggravated by a loss of institutional knowledge that accompanies the mass retirement of an aging workforce.
In today’s competitive work environment, new talent with experience in the field is difficult to attract and retain. This often leads to a reduction in employee number and employee specialization; workers are taking on greater and increasingly diverse responsibilities with little time to focus beyond immediate needs. The lack of resources and knowledge has made the development of long-term proactive strategies extremely difficult.
The fundamental trend away from abundant, qualified talent is the underlying source of increases in maintenance costs, unexpected downtime events, more rework, longer cycle time for solving failures, and other problems that are negatively affecting plant profitability.
One solution is workforce training to replenish and even increase the essential knowledge necessary to effectively operate at acceptable profit margins. Customary training however will not achieve desired results for the following reasons:
The training material does not fully address the workforce requirements for satisfactory job performance
Retention of information provided in the classroom is extremely low leading to uncertainty and errors when engineers are challenged with solving specific site issues or technicians are executing routine maintenance activities
The required information and/or process is not available at time of need
The required information is not formatted consistent with the visual digital world of the new-age employee
The workers trained are no longer employed, have been reassigned to other job responsibilities, or are not actively engaged in the required task.
Providing a Sound Foundation
The first step in developing a successful training program is ensuring that the material being presented is aligned with the daily job responsibilities of those being trained. Many training classes provided by OEMs are focused on the selection and application of their various products. While important for those who are purchasing new equipment, this does not address the many needs associated with operating, maintaining, and troubleshooting existing equipment.
Training should provide a foundation of knowledge directly associated with the skills they need in their role. For engineers, this includes focus areas such as vibration fundamentals, failure modes organized by equipment type and observed condition, system assessment, and energy savings. Engineer training should (1) provide a base of knowledge to more effectively and efficiently perform their job function and (2) provide familiarity with internal and external resources available to supplement their own capabilities during troubleshooting and analysis. For maintenance professionals, training should focus on the form, fit, and function of components and best practices for inspection and maintenance of equipment; wherever possible, maintenance training should incorporate hands-on skill development.
Even when the material being presented is directly applicable to the trainee’s job function and includes hands-on instruction, material retention is still a pervasive problem. Studies have shown that, on average, only 10% of classroom material is retained a week after the training is concluded. With this in mind, what options are available to ensure that foundational training provides the intended benefit?
Making training resources available for continuous reinforcement and just-in-time training will extend the benefit of classroom training and bolster material retention. Providing access to recordings of the training material and supplemental material for further enrichment will allow trainees to continue to engage with the material. It will also allow review of any relevant information as needed when problems arise.
To support a reduction in maintenance errors, a review of existing procedures should be undertaken in tandem with the classroom training. This review will ensure that best practices taught in training are in alignment with site material. Upgrading existing procedures to include illustrations or animations of critical steps can also significantly improve work performance.
For training in any department, providing training resources in a digital format is essential. Digital resources introduce the material in a format that matches the learning style of the new generation of workers and offers interactivity and self-pacing.
The final piece of a successful training strategy focuses on application of the learned information. Facilitating use of the training material in the real world will greatly increase retention and identify areas where the trainee has questions or needs more clarity.
Applying knowledge in the field by instituting a mentorship program with internal and external subject matter experts not only supports material retention, it also supports worker retention. Mentorship programs communicate that the company is investing time and resources in worker development, help workers go beyond “putting out fires” to solve real problems, and deepen employees’ relationships within the company.
Ready to institute a successful training partnership? As an unbiased expert in the pump aftermarket, Hydro has developed training resources that range from single classes to long-term training partnerships. To learn more, read about Hydro University or browse our schedule of upcoming seminars and webinars.
Note: This article was originally published as a native ad with BIC.
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