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Condition monitoring for community infrastructure

By René Wellens

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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 electric 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 drainage pumps are in tunnel pumping stations and rainwater drainage systems. Drainage pumps can 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 damage community infrastructure, the ability to deploy emergency services, and the ability to move people out of harm’s way.

That’s why it makes great financial sense to ensure that your drainage pumps are working as they should be. SAM4 monitors the AC motors that power your pumps, and can detect an upcoming failure up to 5 months in advance.

Tunnel pumps and drainage pumps can often be located in hard-to-reach places (they’re 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. All this means you can start monitoring your pumps faster and for less.

Depending on the municipality, there might be many urban areas or tunnels at a high risk of flooding, each with its own drainage pumps. SAM4 provides a dashboard where you can see the health of each pump motor from one central location, thereby 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 waste to water treatment plants. Although sewage pumps may not mechanically break very often, they can often become clogged, which renders them unusable.

Because 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 waterways. Both are damaging to the local economy, as well as the reputation of the municipality as a reliable, commerce-friendly area.

Bridge motors are often located in hard-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 cause economic damage.

Installing SAM4 will help you detect developing faults in your lock motors when they first arise, so you can repair or replace them before the fault causes a failure.

To find out more about how SAM4 could improve the reliability of your community infrastructure, contact our business development manager René Wellens by filling out our contact form.

Resources

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