Reciprocating engines, rotating equipment, compressors and other motor-driven devices are influenced by changing operating and mechanical conditions that affect performance. Because these machines frequently operate several thousands of hours per year and consume millions of dollars worth of energy, seemingly minor efficiency improvements can lead to sizeable bottom-line savings.
A variety of real-time and continuous automation and diagnostics systems, torque metering systems and vibration analysis tools are available to enhance machine efficiency. Actively tracking and evaluating performance parameters such as shaft horsepower, vibration levels, fuel consumption and ignition timing allows plants to adjust maintenance practices and frequency in a manner that reduces failure rates and optimizes machine performance. With real-time measurements and continuous condition monitoring, companies can:
- Protect units from overloads and dangerous operating conditions.
- Provide real-time awareness of deterioration and malfunctions.
- Save energy through equipment optimization.
Managing torque and horsepower
It takes the right balance of engine speed and torque to generate the desired horsepower. Measuring torque and delivered horsepower in real time provides the ability to detect imbalances and make adjustments based on current operating conditions. Visibility into rpm ranges and horsepower help determine the optimum operating range and identify whether costs can be shaved by operating machinery at a lower speed.
For continuous torque and horsepower monitoring and control, Binsfeld Engineering offers a device you might find useful. Data signals include static and dynamic torque, instantaneous horsepower, shaft speed and rotation direction. Its use of inductive (noncontact) power and data transfer means there are no surfaces to wear or degrade over time. For temporary torque measurements, the company offers a telemetry system that transmits live torque data from a rotating shaft.
S. Himmelstein and Company’s horsepower/kWh meter monitors shaft power, torque, speed and energy while enabling remote, bidirectional NIST-traceable calibration. It displays and plots data in real time and maintains a calibration history. Himmelstein’s solid flanged reaction torquemeters are stationary sensors that measure static and dynamic torque in rotating and non-rotating drivelines and are said to handle large overloads with low crosstalk.
Ensuring precision alignment
Proper alignment between the driver and driven elements is essential to minimize excess heat or fatigue, vibration and premature wear. Monitoring a machine continuously for unusual vibration and observing trends over time reveals vulnerabilities before they become failures. Shaft alignment corrections can save the coupling and reduce frictional losses, resulting in reduced maintenance downtime and improved overall efficiency.
Indikon’s offers a torquemeter that uses a “hot alignment” method of measuring coupling misalignment. Its on-shaft electronics use torque and speed to calculate and display horsepower throughout warm-up, operation and load changes. The probes rotate with the coupling, and misalignment indications and coordinates are supplied while the machine is running.
Automating asset management
When real-time condition monitoring is coupled with automated responses to out-of-tolerance or dangerous conditions, real savings can result. For example, offset and inline gear reducers by Viking Pump reduce standard driver speeds to match pump or other driven device requirements. The company’s monitor protects motor-driven pumps and pump systems from overload or underload by using the pump’s motor as a sensor to track voltage and power. The monitor calculates power consumption and sends alarms or automatically shuts down the pump when it detects a load change. The monitor is best used in conjunction with pressure release valves to avoid pressure spikes.
Integrating data acquisition with diagnostics
Machine health data that is gathered remotely or locally and fed into diagnostics systems enhances the ability to proactively manage and improve equipment performance. Dynalco’s analyzer and software monitor and store equipment data and facilitate evaluation and continuous improvement of reciprocating and rotating machinery. A variety of sophisticated techniques can gauge the mechanical condition and performance of power cylinders, compressors and auxiliary equipment.
The software presents economic indicators, performance curves and the predictive trends and exceptions that contribute to systems analysis, economic analysis, vibration analysis, failure analysis and other optimization practices.
[b]Additional resources[b]: Unit conversion calculators for load, power, speed, energy, torque and other variables can be found online with a quick Web search. Register for free to access VibrAlign’s online Alignment Institute, which contains industry-segmented technical documents, case studies and best practices pertaining to precision alignment.
Contact Contributing Editor Sheila Kennedy, managing director of Additive Communications, at Sheila@addcomm.com.