Condition monitoring on the go: Part 2

Sheila Kennedy says smartphone-enabled solutions, multipurpose devices, and an innovative handheld oil analysis tool allow anomalies to be spotted earlier.

By Sheila Kennedy

Asset condition monitoring devices are achieving new levels of usability, making data collection, analysis, and corrective actions more efficient and timely. Smartphone-enabled solutions, multipurpose devices, and an innovative handheld oil analysis tool allow anomalies to be spotted earlier and addressed more effectively with collaborative, intelligent maintenance decisions.

Smartphone-supported IR tools

Low-resolution, smartphone-based thermal imagers can be a powerful new tool for helping monitor assets. Putting these NDT tools in the hands of operations personnel allows anomalies to be identified and reported earlier and lets managers plan and schedule minor repairs before further damage occurs, says Rob Miller, reliability director at Stockton Infrared Thermographic Services.

Attaching a miniature IR camera to an operator’s smartphone or tablet allows visual temperature information to be collected and distributed to maintenance personnel immediately via text or email, Miller explains. “The relatively low cost of implementing this technology makes it easy to integrate into existing daily routines,” he says.

To facilitate the collection and trend analysis of IR inspection data, new E Sentry Connect asset tags from IRISS use near-field communication (NFC) Smart Card technology that allows contactless communication with Android smartphones and tablets.

E Sentry Connect tags with embedded maintenance instructions are deployed on the assets. New readings and detailed notes entered in an app on the smartphone or tablet are then recorded onto the tag by “bumping” the tag, explains Rudy Wodrich, VP of engineering services at IRISS. The recorded data is uploaded to the cloud the next time the device connects to the internet, and from there it can be transferred to an asset management (EAM/CMMS) system.

Multifunction vibration devices

User-friendly portable vibration meters record, analyze, and display vibration signals with a click of a button. The one-click TPI 9071 smart vibration meter from Test Products International displays color-coded alarm levels for ISO values and bearing damage units (BDU) readings. It detects imbalance, misalignment, and overall looseness as well as more-complex issues.

“You can buy a vibration data collector with spectrum capabilities for less than a smartphone and much easier to use than the smartphone,” says Jim Weidner, vibration specialist at TPI. “When you do more-frequent checks, you catch impending problems such as water in the oil, overheating, loose and worn belts, and low lubrication.”

A multifunction portable tool for performing route-based vibration analysis of rotating machinery is the OneProd Falcon Smart Data Collector from VibrAlign. Designed for efficiency, it has built-in features including a digital camera, a strobe light, a spot pyrometer, a bar-code scanner, voice annotation, two-channel balancing, a wireless triaxial sensor, and patent-pending Accurex automatic diagnosis software.

“Accurex uses proprietary technologies to diagnose machine problems such as imbalance, misalignment, friction, gear defects, and cavitation within seconds, next to the machine,” says Brian Shanovich, ACOEM product line manager at VibrAlign. It also displays confidence and severity levels and offers suggested actions.

The Vibxpert II from Pruftechnik is a handheld tool for efficient route-based data collection, vibration analysis, and field balancing. It can also be used to perform acceptance measurements of newly produced or installed rotating equipment. “One- or two-plane balancing and advanced diagnostic tools such as FFT coast-down, bump tests, or modal analysis can be used in the off-route measurement and analysis mode,” says Florian Buder, CEO at Pruftechnik North America.

Pruftechnik’s associated Omnitrend software allows users to manage their assets based on machine-specific vibration data. Optional automatic measurement location identification with Pruftechnik’s Vibcode transducer is designed to maximize data quality during route measurements.

Portable infrared oil analysis

Reliability engineers can conduct oil analysis on their maintenance route via the FluidScan handheld infrared oil analyzer from Spectro Scientific. FluidScan provides quantitative measurement of dissolved and free water using infrared spectroscopy, explains Randi Price, senior applications chemist at Spectro Scientific. “This allows rapid, on-site determination of water contamination for critical pieces of machinery, such as turbines, without having to wait for results to come back from a lab,” Price says.

FluidScan uses a built-in library of more than 700 oils and reliable calibrations to accurately report key parameters including oxidation, water, TAN, and TBN. It helps provide an overall picture of oil chemistry and contamination.

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