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Condition monitoring in the water and wastewater industries


By Simon Jagers

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The water and wastewater industries are responsible for everything from supplying our homes 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 vulnerable to downtime events. Many of these 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 analyze the motor’s current waveform 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 keep pumps and blowers working

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 from 10 to 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, where sensors are significantly easier to install.

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

SAM4 gives insights into the actual condition of the pump, and can detect a developing fault up to 5 months in advance. This means that motors only need to be replaced when they show actual signs of a developing fault, saving the cost of unnecessary maintenance.

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 longer than 48 hours could cause a drought. SAM4 provides your maintenance team with insights into the actual condition of your pump, 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 makes MCSA the perfect condition monitoring companion, as MCSA sensors are installed inside the motor control cabinet (in contrast to traditional vibration-based monitoring, which requires installation directly on the asset).

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, they will die. If the blower breaks down, it can take two to three days to replenish the bacteria levels and restore the system to full functionality.

SAM4 will alert your maintenance team as soon as your blowers start to develop a fault, so you can repair or replace the blower before it fails—keeping your production manager and your 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 and function of sewage pumps which may make them more susceptible to failure:

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

The increasing likelihood of clogging and mechanical failure makes the benefits of condition monitoring even more apparent. SAM4 can detect 93% of failures up to 5 months in advance, helping your maintenance team prevent unplanned downtime.

What’s more, sewage pumps are often submerged, and are located in potentially hazardous environments. This makes SAM4’s ability to monitor these assets from the motor control cabinet the best option.

If you would like to learn more about how SAM4 condition monitoring uses motor current signature analysis to help water and wastewater organizations avoid downtime, please contact our business development manager René Wellens by filling out our contact form.


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