September 9, 2019 | Blog

How condition monitoring increases reliability at airports

Condition-based maintenance

Baggage On Conveyor

There is nothing quite as chaotic as a service disruption at an airport. Stressed out parents trying to keep bored children entertained, business people frantically trying to reorganize meetings and newly weds desperately trying to keep their honeymoon on track. As well as the mental (and sometimes emotional) consequences of service disruptions at an airport, the financial costs are also enormous - both in terms of short term disruption, as well as long-term reputational damage.

Frequent disruption can also greatly affect the operational capacity of the airport. This is especially relevant for airports that wish to increase passenger volume, but cannot expand the physical capacity of the airport.

A great number of the critical processes that operate in airports are powered by electric motors - think baggage conveyor belts, escalators/travelators and lifts. Many of these processes are so critical that if a motor unexpectedly breaks, then large parts of the airport cannot function. This is where condition monitoring plays an important role.

Condition monitoring is used to detect developing faults in electric motors and rotating assets, so that they can be fixed before the fault causes a failure.

Below are a number of high criticality process found in most airports, together with a short explanation of how condition monitoring makes that process more reliable.

Luggage conveyor belt

Luggage conveyor belts transport luggage from the check in desk to the airplane, and from the airplane to the baggage belt. The motors that power these conveyors are electric, and are highly critical to the operation of the airport. A luggage belt breakdown can cause huge disruption including:

  • Chaos at check in desks as baggage cannot be transported to the plane.
  • Passengers travelling without their baggage, which can result in large compensation claims against the airline.
  • Baggage that is simply lost as a breakdown leaves baggage stranded in an unknown part of the airport.
  • Congestion in the baggage hall as reclaim belts are not functioning.
  • Departure delays due to checked baggage security screening taking longer.

And luggage belt breakdowns are a frequent occurrence. Google “(airport name) baggage belt breakdown” and more often than not there will be news articles detailing the ensuing chaos.

Condition monitoring can be used to eliminate unplanned baggage belt breakdowns. SAM4 can detect a developing fault in a conveyor motor or conveyor belt, so the maintenance team can fix the fault while the conveyor belt is not in use.

The issue with monitoring every conveyor in an airport is that they are everywhere. This can make attaching condition monitoring sensors directly to each conveyor motor very inconvenient and complex. SAM4 by Semiotic Labs monitors the condition of a motor from within the Motor Control Cabinet, and so does not require sensors to be attached to the conveyor belt itself. This makes monitoring the condition of your conveyors simple and scalable.

Pumping stations

Heavy rain can wreak havoc on airport operations - from flooded basements to flooded runways. That’s why rainwater pumping stations at airports are so crucial.

Rainwater pumps are run by electric motors. If those motors break down during a period of high rainfall, the airport is in big trouble.

SAM4 condition monitoring can be used to detect developing pump faults up to 4 months in advance, so that they can be fixed in a period of low rainfall, when they are less likely to be needed.

Escalators and travelators

Take a large airport in the height of summer, and add a few late gate changes, some passengers rushing to make a connection, and lots and lots of luggage.

This is precisely why an effective escalator and travelator (or moving walkway) system is a crucial part of any airport. If passengers cannot get to where they need to be, then flights will be missed and chaos will reign.

If one motor in a travelator or an escalator breaks, then the whole machine needs to be stopped to fix that one motor. This can be hugely inconvenient, especially in a large and busy airport.

SAM4 can be used to monitor the condition of the motors that drive your escalators and travelators, and will detect developing faults well in advance of an escalator failure. This means that if a fault is detected, the motor can be fixed when the airport isn’t as busy, for example during the night.

To find out more about how SAM4 condition monitoring can make critical airport processes more reliable, click here to sign up for a demo.

August 28, 2019 | Blog

Condition monitoring for the pulp and paper industry

Condition-based maintenance

paper mill

The pulp and paper industry has existed since the 6th Century, and although modern technology has made the production of paper hugly more efficient, there is still one major way that paper mills can increase efficiency and output. And that is through the reduction of unplanned production downtime.

Condition monitoring of critical pulp and paper production processes can alert the maintenance team to a developing fault before that fault causes unplanned downtime. By reducing unplanned downtime, you can increase industrial output without expanding your plant, ultimately helping you to make more paper for less.

Below are a number of critical processes in the pulp and paper industry, combined with an explanation of how condition monitoring can make that process more reliable.

Hydrapulper

The Hydrapulper is a machine that uses an agitator to mix waste paper and water together to create recycled pulp.

Hydrapulper agitators are often driven by AC motors. Although the machine requires little maintenance, when it does break down, it can have a direct impact on production.

Applying traditional vibration-based condition monitoring techniques are often not possible due to the fact the agitator motor is difficult to reach. That’s why many Maintenance professionals are turning to SAM4, which is installed inside the Motor Control Cabinet rather than on the motor itself.

Bleaching system

The bleaching system in a paper mill relies on a number of centrifugal/multistage pumps both to feed the process and expel wastewater. Due to the toxicity of the chemicals involved, a fault in this process could create a health hazard.

Condition monitoring will ensure that any developing fault is detected early (up to 4 months in advance), giving your maintenance team sufficient time to correct the fault before a health hazard does occur.

Paper machine

The Paper Machine can be split into a number of individual processes; many of which are crucial to the production process. These include:

Headbox pulp pumps
The headbox uses powerful pumps to propel the pulp at high speeds into the gap former. Although they are not overly expensive to replace, if a pulp pump breaks unexpectedly, then the resultant downtime can be costly.

By installing condition monitoring software, maintenance teams can be alerted to any developing fault in the pulp pumps, so they can be replaced before a pump failure causes downtime.

Pressing section
The pressing section uses a number of high power rollers to remove water from the paper. Pressing is an important part of the production process, and so if the motors that power the rollers break down, the effect on production output can be immediate.

Drying section
After the pressing, the paper enters the drying section, which uses heated cylinders to remove the rest of the water and strengthen the paper.
The rollers used in the drying section run at high temperatures, and this can create problems when trying to install on-asset condition monitoring sensors. The heat could damage the sensors and ultimately lead to a missed fault.

SAM4 requires sensors to be installed inside the Motor Control Cabinet, which is a safe and temperate place for condition monitoring sensors. No sensors need to be placed on or near the hot rollers.

Paper Mill Rotational Dryer

Calendar section
In the calendar section, the paper is fed through two rollers to give the paper a consistent thickness. These rollers are heavy, and so the motor that moves them needs to be powerful (and is therefore quite expensive to replace). Periodically replacing a powerful roller motor as part of a preventative maintenance strategy can significantly reduce your Overall Equipment Effectiveness.

SAM4 can detect a developing fault in a motor, and report that fault to your maintenance team. This means your maintenance team only needs to replace the roller motor when it is necessary, and not before - therefore increasing OEE and optimizing your maintenance schedule.

Sheeter

Once the paper leaves the paper machine, it is fed into the sheeter. As the name suggests, the sheeter is used to cut large sheets of paper into smaller sheets, which are then stacked onto pallets ready for transportation. If a paper mill needs to create a high volume of smaller sized paper, then sheeter downtime can significantly hamper production.

By monitoring the rollers in the sheeter with SAM4, production levels can be maintained regardless of the paper sizes being produced.

Unplanned downtime in the pulp industry is no fiction

Paper producers such as Sappi and Crown Van Gelder use SAM4 to reduce unplanned downtime events in their paper mills. To learn more specifically about how Crown Van Gelder uses SAM4, read the case study here.

Sign up for a demo

If you are interested in learning more about how condition monitoring could make your paper mill more reliable, sign up for a SAM4 demo.

August 16, 2019 | Blog

Condition Monitoring: the key to industrial energy efficiency

Condition-based maintenance

Industrial-energy-efficiency

Around 45% of the energy used worldwide is used by industrial electric motors. That’s a whole lot of electricity. It’s also why industrial energy efficiency has become such a hot topic. Reduced energy usage holds the key to an improved environmental impact and lower operating costs.

However, energy efficiency initiatives have historically been low on the priority list, often due to:

  • difficulty with identifying which processes are the most inefficient, and therefore need the most attention.
  • high short-term costs (installing inefficiency detection software, rightsizing motors etc).
  • the prioritization of high levels of production, regardless of cost.

New advances in condition monitoring are making industrial energy efficiency improvements far more achievable. SAM4 monitors the health of a motor by measuring current and voltage, which by extension means that SAM4 can also measure and detect inefficient processes. Traditional conditional monitoring techniques rely on vibration analysis to monitor the health of motors, and so are unable to offer the same efficiency improvement features.

Production managers are now turning to current and voltage measurement driven condition monitoring to identify inefficiencies in industrial processes, so that maintenance teams can act quickly to rectify the inefficiency.

Why increased industrial energy efficiency is so important

Improved environmental impact
It goes without saying that the most important objective when improving industrial energy efficiency is an improved environmental impact.

As important as it is, justifying spending money on this can be a difficult conversation, especially when there are more short-term pressing issues, and multiple different stakeholders begging for budget.

Reduced costs
Perhaps a more effective justification when there are multiple budgetary mouths to feed is that investment in improved energy efficiency can result in lower operating costs in the long run. This is especially the case as energy gradually becomes more expensive.

Improved brand image
This may seem like a self serving reason to invest in improving industrial energy efficiency, but it is valid nonetheless. Reduced energy consumption is a hot topic, and a demonstrated effort to reduce energy consumption could be a point of differentiation - encouraging consumers or businesses to engage with you rather than a competitor.

How can condition monitoring help improve industrial energy efficiency

As mentioned, electric motors consume a huge amount of electricity worldwide, and so even a few, small concentrated efforts can make a difference. Below are a few ways that condition monitoring can help reduce energy consumption in industrial environments.

Proper maintenance
According to research, properly maintained motors consume up to 15% less energy. SAM4 can be used to detect developing faults (which cause motors to run less efficiently), so they can be fixed as soon as conveniently possible.

Re-engineering inefficient processes
Consider a scenario with two very large drainage-pumps. They operate at 80% of capacity in the autumn and winter, as the most rain falls in those seasons. During spring and summer, they both run at 40%.

A relatively quick way to reduce energy waste would be to operate one pump at 80% in the spring/summer instead of two at 40%.

Although this might be a simple example, the point stands. By combining domain knowledge, process knowledge, and power consumption and load measurements provided by monitoring systems, it is often possible to identify new ways to increase process efficiency.

Right-sizing motors
You don’t need a sledgehammer to crack a nut, and the same applies for the use of electric motors. Selecting a motor that matches the load is an important step in improving electrical motor efficiency.

The efficiency of a motor is at its greatest when it runs between 60% and 80% of rated power. The motor will become gradually less efficient when the load is lowered, and will become significantly less efficient when operating at a load below 35 to 40%. By replacing inefficient motors with more appropriately sized motors, the total energy consumption of a plant could be significantly reduced.

When right-sizing motors, it is also important to balance the long-term effects of right-sizing with the short term costs. For example, replacing an oversized and inefficient motor before it shows signs of a fault will incur a cost. However in the long term, the plant will save both money and energy by using a motor that is better suited to the process.

Sign up for a demo

If you are interested in finding out more about how SAM4 condition monitoring could help your plant become more energy efficient, sign up for a demo here.

August 5, 2019 | Blog

Condition monitoring for the food processing industry

Condition-based maintenance

food processing industry

There are a huge number of different steps that go into the production of everyday food products. Many of those processes are reliant upon electric motors, which can sometimes fail.

These processes often need to run 24/7, and any losses in production can result in fulfillment failure fines (for failing to deliver the required quantity). This exacerbates the cost of downtime, which is something producers are very keen to avoid.

SAM4 condition monitoring provides real-time insights into the health and performance of the motors that drive critical food production processes. SAM4 can detect a fault up to 4 months before that fault causes a motor failure; giving your maintenance engineers sufficient time to repair or replace the motor before unplanned downtime occurs.

Based on feedback from our customers, below are a list of the most critical processes in the food processing industry, as well as how SAM4 can be used to make each process more reliable.

Steam pumps
In many factories, pumps are used to transport steam to the necessary location in the food production process.

If these steam pumps fail, the consequent drop in pressure can result in heat loss. Heat is expensive to generate, and so the breakdown of steam pumps can equate to an expensive downtime event.

As you can imagine, the pumps used to transport steam can get quite hot, and this poses a problem if you need to install delicate condition monitoring sensors directly on the asset. SAM4 measures motor current from within the Motor Control Cabinet. This means that the condition monitoring system will continue to function, regardless of the temperature of the pump.

The use of agitators
Agitators are run by electric motors, and are used to mix different substances together inside a tank.

The mixing process is often quite complicated, and requires a specific list of actions to be taken over a number of days. If the agitator breaks during that time, then the product may need to be disposed of. This is expensive both in terms of the disposal of product, and the inability of the plant to create more.

By using condition monitoring, developing faults in agitators can be detected well in advance of a breakdown. Meaning they can be fixed while the agitator is not in use.

Conveyors
Conveyor belts are frequently used in the food processing industry to transport goods to the next area of production, and are often required to run 24/7.

Conveyors also rely on other conveyors to keep the product moving. This means that if one conveyor breaks down, then other conveyors being used in the same process must also stop. In turn, this could result in:

  • product spoiling while being stranded on the production line
  • product being loaded onto a stationary conveyor, which could result in spilt product and cleaning.

This knock on effect is why a conveyor breakdown can become quite costly for the production process.

SAM4 condition monitoring can be used to monitor conveyor systems 24/7, removing the need to regularly deploy maintenance professionals to manually assess the condition of a conveyor. As mentioned, SAM4 can detect a failure up to 4 months in advance, giving the maintenance team sufficient time to schedule downtime and replace the defective conveyor motor while it is not in use.

Refrigeration Compressors
These compressors are a key feature of the refrigeration process. If the refrigeration compressors fail, then goods cannot be kept at the required temperature, which may result in product being thrown out.

A longer downtime event may also require production to stop, as there is nowhere to store the new product.

SAM4 condition monitoring can detect a compressor fault up to 4 months in advance of the fault causing a failure. This gives your maintenance team time to schedule downtime when the fridge is empty or is not needed.

Air Compressors
Compressed air is used in a number of ways in the food production industry, including:

  • cleaning containers before they are filled with food
  • blowing the crumbs off fresh bread before it’s packaged
  • operating actuators, rotaries and grippers.

As compressed air is so integral to a variety of different processes, air compressors can be situated in multiple different places within a plant. This makes attaching condition monitoring sensors directly to the asset quite inconvenient.

SAM4 can monitor the condition of multiple air compressors from inside the Motor Control Cabinet, meaning you can install condition monitoring for your air compressors quickly and easily, without attaching sensors on each individual asset.

Book a demo
To find out more about how condition monitoring could make your food processing plant more reliable, contact René Wellens - Business Development Manager by filling in our contact form.

July 31, 2019 | Blog

FAQs

condition monitoring, Condition-based maintenance

Electrical-Engineer

Below is a list of frequently asked questions about condition monitoring and SAM4. The list is split into general questions, specific questions about installation and questions about data security. If you feel this list is missing something, please let us know.

General Questions

How much does SAM4 cost?
Pricing is dependent upon a number of factors. To receive a free no-obligation quote, contact info@semioticlabs.com.

How much does installation cost?
How much installation costs will depend on how you want to install SAM4. Installation can be done by your own service team, an external party or via a Semiotic Labs installation partner.

Semiotic Labs’ partners will give a quote based on, among other things, travel time, results of the site survey, number of assets, number of switch boxes and installation time. Installation generally takes between 30 and 60 minutes per asset.

Can I see a demo of your solution?
Depending on your location, we can provide a live demonstration of our solution, or a demo over a video call. To organize a demo, please email info@semioticlabs.com.

What is the benefit of SAM4 for an asset with a low rate of failure?
SAM4 can not only identify when an asset will fail, but in most cases it can also identify the cause of the failure. This means that your maintenance team can fix the problem faster when there is a failure. Additionally, assets with a low rate of failure will still break, which can then cause unplanned downtime (which can be very costly). SAM4 can detect developing faults, and can help you to plan maintenance when it suits you.

What type of machine is SAM4 suitable for?
SAM4 is available for low-voltage (up to 690v) AC motors and rotating assets such as pumps, compressors, conveyors, blowers and fans.

Does SAM4 work with frequency inverters and soft starters?
SAM4 will work with frequency inverters, soft starters and almost any other hardware that is placed in front of the motor. SAM4 only requires the ability to measure current and voltage on a line that leads directly to the motor.

How is SAM4 different from traditional condition monitoring?
SAM4 uses electrical waveform analysis, or Motor Current Signature Analysis (MCSA), to identify developing faults. This is significantly easier to install than traditional vibration based condition monitoring, and achieves a higher rate of accuracy when it comes to fault detection.

What information does SAM4 require about the assets it is monitoring?
SAM4 needs to know a number of things about the asset it is monitoring, such as Motor Brand, Location of Motor, Power, Amps, Full Load Speed and Bearing Type (driven end or non-driven end). This information is generally listed on the motor nameplate. Consult our Asset Intake form for the full list of information required.

Does SAM4 work for assets operating at varying work points (load and/or speed)?
Yes. We can handle motors operating at varying work points.

Can your system be integrated with our CMMS / EAM / MES?
This can be done via our API - check with our team for more information.

What if SAM4 is installed on an engine that is already damaged?
As the effects of motor damage increase over time, SAM4 can be installed on an already damaged motor. The system will be able to identify the gradual aggravation of the damage and alert you to the developing fault (subject to the initial machine learning period).

Can I export my dashboard data?
All data that can be seen in SAM4 can easily be exported in CSV format.

How are we alerted to a developing fault?
Reports are communicated via e-mail including a description of the problem found and relevant actions. In the case of high priority, we also contact you by telephone. Initial warnings are also communicated from the SAM4 dashboard.

Installation related questions

How is installation of MCSA different from installation of vibration based condition monitoring?
MCSA is installed inside the Motor Control Cabinet. Vibration based condition monitoring requires sensors to be installed directly on the asset. This can be problematic if the sensor is located in a hazardous area, hard to reach area, operates under harsh conditions (dirty environment, high/low temperatures, high humidity) or in an ATEX zone.

Is grid pollution visible? (network pollution)
We can monitor structural network pollution, but it depends on where we measure and the type of connection.
If we measure after a frequency inverter, we cannot monitor grid pollution, but we can monitor the frequency inverter. If we measure assets directly online, we can also see network pollution.
Regardless, network pollution does not influence SAM4’s failure detection accuracy.

How do you deal with poorly insulated cables? Does that have an impact?
The sensors can be applied to uninsulated "voltage strips", so insulation is not a factor. Our current sensors are isolated. See our current sensor data sheets for specific information.

Is SAM4 resistant to heat and humidity?
Please see the table below.

sam4 specs

Are the SAM4 components grounded?
The switch, gateway and power supply feature an opening which can be used for grounding.

The latest version of the DAQ is automatically grounded via shielded ethernet cables, provided that the switch and gateway are both grounded via the grounding screws already present.

Can old production processes also be monitored using SAM4?
Yes, signals from any AC motor can be analyzed. Old or new.

What voltage do you measure?
SAM4 can currently measure up to 690V (line to line). We are currently working on a mid to high voltage solution.

What type of motor can you monitor?
SAM4 can monitor both three-phase asynchronous and synchronous electric motors.

Will we get any support during the installation process?
An overview of the installation process can be found at https://www.semioticlabs.com/docs

Support is available in the lead up to, during and after installation.

Will SAM4 fit inside my MCC?
SAM4 hardware dimensions are as follows:

Component Dimensions
(H*W*D) in mm
DAQ 107 * 22.5 * 120 1
Switch 143 * 48,6 * 104 1
Gateway 125 1 * 51 * 125 1
Magnetic foot antenna ∅ 30 * 91,4
Power supply adapter 90 * 40 * 100
Fused terminal din-rail block 96,3 * 22,5 2 * 59
Voltage sensor small ∅ 23 * 56
Voltage sensor large 101 * 16 * 37

1 a UTP cable adds 35 mm to this size
2 width per set of 3 blocks

Can SAM4 be installed inside a Withdrawable Module?
This will depend on the specific situation, contact our team for more details.

Connectivity and data (security)

How is SAM4 connected to the platform?
SAM4 can be connected through 4G, Wifi, LAN or a local server.

How much data is transferred per hour?
This depends on the asset being monitored, but generally 5 MB of data is transferred per asset per hour.

How does the gateway communicate with the Semiotic Labs platform, and what domains does it communicate with?
The gateway can communicate with our platform via ethernet, wifi or mobile connectivity depending on the clients installation. The gateway communication with the Semiotic Labs platform takes place via a small number of external domains. Gateway communication on sensor data and gateway status data consists solely of outgoing traffic. In case of gateway updates, all updates are downloaded on a pull-to-install basis initiated by the gateway itself. When the gateway is connected to a company network via Wifi or Ethernet, Semiotic Labs will not remotely access the gateway or initiate incoming traffic in any form.

In the case of ethernet or wifi connectivity the client may need to whitelist the domains listed in this page, depending on company policy.

Is the gateway communication secure? What about information regarding my company network and data?
All communication between the gateway and the outside world is secured via the standard TLS protocol. The gateway only sends sensor data and gateway status data. There is no transfer of personal data. There is no transfer of company data except for sensor data obtained by SAM4.

What kind of data/communication will be coming into my company network? How will gateway updates work?
All communications are triggered by the gateway. The updates on the gateway are triggered periodically.

I want to set up a static IP for the Semiotic Labs gateway. Can I use any IP address?
If possible avoid using the IP-range 192.168.1.[0-255].

Are there any speed requirements for the Semiotic Labs gateway internet connection?
Internet usage depends a lot on the number of assets being monitored. A simple rule would be to have at least a 5 Mbps internet connection. Minimum requirements are 0.1 Mbps upload per motor and 0.5 Mbps download per gateway.

Do all of the SAM4 components require access to my company network?
The gateway is the only component that requires internet access. One way to give internet access to the gateway is via the company network. The gateway does not need to communicate with other devices within the local company network. All other SAM4 components operate independently and should not be part of the local company network.

What will happen if the WiFi password changes?
The new WiFi password needs to be set on the gateway. This requires physical access to the gateway via a laptop and ethernet cable. See the SAM4 installation manual for more details on how to set the WiFi password.

Which components do I see in my network?
If this is from a sysadmin point of view and the gateway is connected to the local network, then you should only see the gateway reporting to the network

How does the gateway communicate with the data loggers?
The Gateway communicates with the data loggers through an ethernet connection via a switch. The gateway has a separate ethernet interface for this connection. The gateway and data logger network is independent of any other network.

Is it possible / necessary to connect the gateway to the internet via a VPN?
The gateway does not need or use a VPN connection.

July 25, 2019 | Blog

Condition monitoring for community infrastructure

condition monitoring, Condition-based maintenance

Panorama of Rotterdam cityscape with and Erasmus bridge.

From the tap water we have delivered to our homes, to the bridges we use to cross rivers, community infrastructure is an important part of modern life.

A great deal of this infrastructure is based on the need to move things from one place to another. The power behind that movement is often AC electrical motors. And like all motors, they can sometimes fail.

That’s why many communities and local government organizations use condition monitoring to predict when a motor will fail, so they can fix it before it does.

Here are a few high criticality processes that go on in many local communities, coupled with an explanation of how SAM4 condition monitoring could make that process more reliable.

Drainage pumps
Two of the most critical uses of these pumps are in tunnel pumping stations and rainwater drainage systems. Drainage pumps can sometimes become blocked, or develop mechanical or electrical faults. The financial and social costs of a drainage pump failure can be significant:

  • Faulty pumps in a tunnel pumping station could lead to the flooding of a busy tunnel, which can have huge implications for road transport, and by extension, the local economy.
  • Excessive rainfall in an urban area coupled with faulty rainwater drainage pumps can lead to damage of community infrastructure, the deployment of the emergency services and the potential displacement of people.

That is why it makes great financial sense to make sure your drainage pumps are working as they should be. SAM4 condition monitoring monitors the AC motors that power your pumps, and can detect an upcoming fault up to 4 months in advance.

Tunnel pumps and drainage pumps can often be located in difficult to reach places (they are almost always located underground), which means attaching sensors directly to the pump is either very difficult or impossible. SAM4 uses sensors to measure electrical waveforms from within the Motor Control Cabinet, which is much easier to install than on-asset sensors. This all means you can start monitoring your pumps faster and for less.

Depending on the municipality, there might be a high number of urban areas or tunnels which are at a high risk of flooding, each with their own drainage pumps. SAM4 offers a dashboard where you can see the health of each pump motor from one central location, therefore eradicating the unnecessary deployment of maintenance crews to inspect healthy pumps.

Sewage Pumps
Sewage is an inevitable by-product of industry and human existence. Sewage pumps are needed to transport the sewage to water treatment plants. Although sewage pumps may not mechanically break very often, they can often become clogged, which renders them unusable.

Due to the fact that the pumps are often submerged, traditional condition monitoring techniques that require sensor installation on the actual pump are not an option. As mentioned, SAM4 measures electrical waveforms from within the Motor Control Cabinet, which equals faster and cheaper installation. See our guide to learn more about condition monitoring for the Water and Wastewater industries specifically.

Bridges
The motors that control the opening and closing of bridges are often electric, and can sometimes break.

The effect of a broken motor on a bridge can be quite dramatic. It can either cause large traffic jams, or congestion on the water ways. Both are damaging for the local economy, as well as the reputation of the municipality as a reliable, commerce friendly area.

Bridge motors are often located in difficult to reach places, which makes it difficult to install condition monitoring sensors directly on the asset. The sensors also need to withstand the elements, which means they need to be specially protected against water and freezing temperatures. Both these factors make traditional condition monitoring expensive to install and maintain.

As mentioned, SAM4 installs sensors within the Motor Control Cabinet, which offers dry and stable conditions, and an ideal environment for accurate condition monitoring.

Locks
Staying on the water theme, electric motors are often also used to open and close locks. If these motors break down, ships will be blocked, which again could also cause economic damage.

Installing SAM4 will help you to detect the developing faults in your lock motors, so they can be repaired or replaced before the fault causes a motor failure.

To find out more about how SAM4 could improve the reliability of your community infrastructure, contact René Wellens - Business Development Manager by filling in our contact form.

July 15, 2019 | Blog

Condition monitoring in the water and wastewater industries

condition monitoring, Condition-based maintenance

The water and wastewater industries are responsible for everything from supplying your house with drinking water to cleaning the water used in a power plant before it’s released back into the sea.

The systems and processes behind the movement and treatment of water, as crucial as they are, are still susceptible to downtime events. Many of the processes rely on AC motors to run, which are themselves susceptible to faults and failures. Downtime events in the water and wastewater industry can be hugely expensive.

SAM4 condition monitoring uses Motor Current Signature Analysis (MCSA) to analyse the current waveform of a motor and detect a developing fault. This means that when a pump is beginning to show signs of a fault, it can be repaired or replaced before that fault causes a downtime event.

SAM4 condition monitoring can help with:

Underground pumps for drinking water
Extracting drinking water from underground is thirsty work. Powerful pumps are needed to transport drinking water from underground wells to the surface. These pumps can operate anywhere between 10-100 meters underground.

Traditional vibration based condition monitoring requires attaching sensors to the actual pump motor, which is difficult if the motor is located 100 meters underground. SAM4 measures motor signals from inside the Motor Control Cabinet, which is significantly easier to install.

Typically, underground pumps for drinking water are preventatively maintained every 24 months. The price tag for the preventative maintenance of a pump such as this is around 1,500 Euros. The main downside of this type of maintenance strategy is that motors are replaced before they show any signs of actual faults. If you have a high number of these underground pumps operating, then the costs of preventative maintenance can quickly add up.

SAM4 gives insights into the actual condition of the pump, and can detect a developing fault up to 4 months in advance. This means that motors only need to be replaced when they show actual signs of a fault, meaning you save on unnecessary maintenance costs.

As mentioned, these pumps are crucial in maintaining access to clean drinking water, and as such, downtime can be costly. Although reservoirs can be used to mitigate the cost of unplanned downtime, a downtime event that lasts for longer than 48 hours could cause a drought. SAM4 provides your maintenance team with insights into the actual condition of your motor, therefore warning your team before a developing fault causes unplanned downtime.

Low pressure submersible pumps
These pumps are tasked with transporting water to the treatment plant. As the name suggests, the pumps are placed underwater, which makes attaching sensors directly to the asset a no-go. This in turn also makes MCSA the perfect condition monitoring companion, as MSCA sensors can be installed inside the Motor Control Cabinet (rather than traditional vibration based monitoring which requires installation directly on the asset).

Blowers
These machines ensure that oxygen is continuously supplied to the waste eating bacteria which are used to treat the water.

These waste eating bacteria are quite delicate; if they don’t receive a continued supply of oxygen, then they will die. If the Blower breaks down, then replenishing the bacteria levels and restoring the system to full functionality can take 2 or 3 days.

SAM4 will alert your maintenance team as soon as your Blowers start to develop a fault; meaning you can repair or replace the Blower before it fails - keeping your Production Manager and bacteria happy.

Sewage pumps
Sewage pumps are used to transport sewage to the treatment plant. Although sewage pumps may not mechanically break very often, they can often become clogged, which renders them unusable.

There are two future changes to the use/function of sewage pumps which may make them more susceptible to failure:

  • Wet wells are getting smaller, this means that pumps are at a higher risk of contamination.
  • Rain water is sometimes separated from the sewage, which means that sewage going through the pump is thicker, which causes greater friction inside the pump.

An increasing likelihood of clogging/mechanical failure makes the benefits of condition monitoring even more apparent. SAM4 can detect 93% of failures up to 4 months in advance, helping your maintenance team to prevent unplanned downtime.

Sewage pumps are often submerged, and are located in potentially hazardous environments. This makes monitoring these assets from the Motor Control Cabinet the best option - something that is easily achievable with SAM4.

If you would like to learn more about how SAM4 condition monitoring uses Motor Current Signature Analysis to help water and wastewater organizations to avoid downtime, contact René Wellens - Business Development Manager by filling in our contact form.

July 11, 2019 | Blog

Motor Current Signature Analysis and Condition Monitoring

For many years the Condition Monitoring industry relied on vibration analysis and other traditional techniques to identify developing faults in electric motors. However in recent years, Condition Monitoring based on MCSA has begun to provide a more effective and efficient alternative to traditional techniques.

Using an Electrical Submersible Pump as an example, this article will explain how Motor Current Signature Analysis is revolutionizing the Condition Monitoring industry.

Electrical submersible pumps (ESP) play a crucial role in oil and gas operations. When a reservoir has insufficient energy to produce oil at economic rates an artificial lift method is required to increase fluid flow. Electric submersible pumping is one of the most versatile and adaptable options for moderate to high fluid volumes.

Unfortunately, the conditions encountered in some wells can be very hostile and this often has an adverse effect on both a pump’s reliability and any monitoring sensors associated with it. ESP failures may be caused by the presence of solids (fine rock particles) from the reservoir, abrupt changes in well conditions, the presence of free gas in the pump, corrosion or elevated operating temperatures.

When an ESP fails it can have a catastrophic effect on operations, incurring the high costs associated with loss of production and the replacement of assets. It is critical, therefore, to mitigate these risks. Motor Current Signature Analysis (MCSA) uses advanced algorithms to analyse current and voltage data and provide early diagnosis of ESP problems.

Monitoring and maintenance strategies

Most of the maintenance regimes currently used by the oil and gas industry revolve around time-based strategies or traditional condition-based maintenance techniques.

Time-based maintenance often creates additional costs (for example, unnecessary shutdowns when checks are made too early) and accepts unplanned downtime as a real possibility (component failure when checks are made too late).

In contrast, the aim of condition-based maintenance is to perform repair work before failure occurs, typically when a drop in ESP performance is recorded. Condition-based maintenance (CBM) is the optimal maintenance strategy for ESPs because it requires maintenance to be performed before breakdowns occur or when performance decreases, but not before. CBM requires accurate, reliable and cost-effective condition monitoring mechanisms. This is where traditional tools fall short. In traditional condition-based maintenance systems, vibration or temperature sensors are installed on or near the pump (which is located underground). These measure parameters such as motor temperature, pump discharge temperature, pump intake pressure, pump discharge pressure and motor vibration. However, installing sensors on a submerged pump that operates in harsh conditions below the surface of the earth is often challenging and expensive. It can be difficult to ensure the physical integrity of the components such as the sensors and the cables that transmit data from the ESP to a surface station.

Additionally, time-based and traditional condition-based maintenance both require a great deal of manual data analysis. This places the burden of interpretation on technical staff who will doubtless have many other demands on their time.

Fortunately, there is an alternative. Online condition monitoring tools based on a combination of Motor Current Signature Analysis (MCSA) and machine-learning algorithms offer an efficient and cost-effective solution that addresses the unique challenges facing oil and gas operators, as well as many other industries.

Motor Current Signature Analysis

The MCSA concept originated in the early 1970s when it was proposed as a tool for monitoring motors in hazardous areas or harsh environments within nuclear power plants. It is a condition monitoring technique that can diagnose problems in induction motors by analyzing current and voltage data [Ref 1]. MCSA sensors are installed inside the motor control cabinet (MCC) and data is collected online without interrupting production.

Sensors installed inside a Motor Control Cabinet

For engineers the recognition of motor current fault signatures would require a considerable degree of expertise and experience, but modern MCSA tools take care of that. The online system delivers an automated interpretation using powerful artificial intelligence algorithms that detect and diagnose imminent failure in AC induction motors and pumps.

A surface solution for downhole systems

In contrast to traditional ESP condition-monitoring tools, which place sensors downhole, all of the hardware for an MCSA system is installed in the motor control cabinet (MCC). This is a much more appropriate environment for precision instruments.

MCSA sensors can be installed in less than an hour per motor and will collect data under all operating conditions. This ensures the continuous streams of high quality data that automated condition monitoring tools rely on.

Basic principles

ESPs are powered by AC induction motors. Electrical power moves a rotor inside a stator to turn electrical energy into mechanical energy. The functioning motor will then create a set of vibration patterns which cause ripples on the current sine-wave. Current sensors can pick up this analogue signal and turn it into a digital data stream for further analysis.

Algorithms convert the data into a pattern of behaviour that defines the range of sine wave shapes and ripples that occur under normal, healthy circumstances. Anomaly detection algorithms can then track changes over time and identify “unhealthy” deviations that cannot be explained by operational factors such as changes in load and power.

Anomaly detection

When anomaly detection algorithms flag behaviour outside the normal “healthy” pattern for the ESP it indicates behaviour that warrants inspection of the motor and pump.

The commercial value of the MCSA approach is most obvious in a site where the engineering team has to monitor dozens or even hundreds of pumps. In a traditional scenario, this would require visits to each pump to conduct manual inspections. This is a labour-intensive process and an inefficient use of scarce technical staff resources (manual inspections can also carry additional safety risks). The MCSA-based system enables operators to avoid these issues.

Anomaly detection algorithms can indicate which pumps are behaving normally and which have shown the highest deviations from the expected patterns. This helps the maintenance team to prioritize the assets that are most likely to require urgent attention. But that’s not all; the MCSA-based system can also indicate the likely cause of a problem.

Pump operating normally vs operating with cavitation

Pump operating normally vs operating with cavitation

Fault classification

MCSA classification algorithms recognize patterns associated with specific failure mechanisms. For example, pump cavitation shows a distinctly different pattern from bearing damage or stator failures. Different failure mechanisms leave distinct marks on the current sine wave, which can already point the maintenance team to the probable cause of the motor fault.

The major faults of electrical machines that can be identified by MCSA include:

  • Air-gap eccentricity: a non-uniform air gap between the rotor and the stator
  • Broken rotor bars that can cause sparking and overheating
  • Bearing damage
  • Cavitation
  • Impeller damage
  • Shorted turns in stator windings
  • Load effects
  • Equipment wear effects

The latest developments in artificial intelligence can leverage what is called “transfer learning” to apply failure patterns to different assets. This means that the fingerprint of stator failure in a large motor can be used to detect the same issue in a smaller system. In some cases it is even possible to use a failure mechanism pattern from one equipment type to identify the same issue in a different equipment category.

Conclusion

An MCSA-based condition monitoring tool for ESPs can reduce unplanned downtime, lower maintenance costs and help operators minimize safety and environmental risks. The latest generation of MCSA-based condition monitoring tools offer unique monitoring capabilities for ESPs because the sensor system is installed inside the MCC, rather than on the asset.

The emergence of powerful artificial intelligence algorithms, improved data transfer protocols and cheap, powerful computing have made MCSA-based systems an attractive option.

MCSA-based systems have the potential to greatly improve data accuracy and reliability whilst lowering the costs of monitoring at scale. The elimination of unplanned downtime is now within reach.

References

1 Brief review of motor current signature analysis, D. Miljković. (2015) https://www.researchgate.net/publication 304094187_Brief_Review_of_Motor_Current_Signature_Analysis
Accessed 26.07.2018