Remote compressed air system monitoring: What it looks like today

Sheila Kennedy says keep an eye on compressor performance and spot usage trends with these new solutions.

By Sheila Kennedy, CMRP, contributing editor

Compressor uptime is crucial in industrial processes, but it is not always easy to physically oversee compressor equipment. Large, remote, hazardous, and unmanned facilities have much to gain from remote condition monitoring. Many software and technology options and delivery models are available.

Heightened awareness


Modern options for remote monitoring of industrial equipment such as compressors include having vibration sensors permanently installed on specific points of the machine, notes Bruno Fabiano, development engineer and a partner at EGF Engefaz. “These sensors can be wired or wireless and are then paired with an online analyzing system that allows for 24/7 evaluation of the asset’s condition,” he explains.

For high-end or supplemental vibration analysis, EGF has remote analysis teams at its Engefaz Technology Centers in Florida and Brazil studying vibration data collected from around the world. Data uploaded to the remote analysis system can be analyzed from any Internet-connected computer that has the necessary software installed.

Sigma Air Manager 4.0 from Kaeser Compressors has refined compressed-air system controls. “Using Ethernet as well as other industrial bus connections, we connect multiple compressors, dryers, and other compressed air equipment to SAM 4.0 to create what we call a Sigma Network,” says Timothy Hitzges, product engineer for controls at Kaeser Compressor. This network optimizes compressor energy efficiency while also facilitating remote monitoring for live operational status, maintenance indicators, and constant energy consumption auditing.

“We use this extensively to monitor our Sigma Air Utility installations, which are typically large compressed air stations that we own and operate for the customers,” adds Hitzges. “Customers also have full visibility into their system.”

The SMARTLINK remote data monitoring system from Atlas Copco gives the company and its customers insights into compressed air installations that were not previously available. Customers can access service logs and enter quote requests online, and they have the option of receiving alerts and customized energy-efficiency reports.

“Remote diagnostics and event monitoring identifies problems within the system even before they are noticed by the user,” explains Brian Blum, CTS optimization product manager at Atlas Copco. “Having remote monitoring allows users and manufacturers to react quicker and more efficiently to reduce downtime and save money.”

Semeq’s online vibration analysis system analyzes vibration data remotely and generates reports on the MySEMEQ portal. “Using Semeq’s ioVibe 4.2 wireless vibration sensor’s 10khz frequency range, we can help customers identify numerous issues that might be developing in their compressors and other assets, including bearing issues, blade problems, loose base, and others,” says Andy Rodes, a vice president at Semeq.

One advantage of a wireless remotely monitored system is that it is possible to detect operational issues such as load changes over time that may cause undue stress during peak demand times, Rodes explains.

Specialized applications


Screw compressors achieve better reliability and a longer working life when wireless vibration and temperature monitoring systems expose the root cause of machinery defects to analysts, says Clark Xi, product manager at Moons’ Industries.

Moons’ offers walk-around and online sensor monitoring solutions. Collected data can be presented in the form of spectra, wave-form data, machine trends, alarm events, or statistical reports to reveal conditions such as misalignment, screw friction, abnormal intake valves or cavity pressure, and lubrication oil leakage. “All those failure sources can be predicted by the combination of vibration and temperature data generated by one sensor,” explains Xi.

StressWave predictive maintenance technology from Curtiss-Wright measures friction to detect and provide early warning of issues in centrifugal as well as reciprocating compressors. SWANview remote monitoring and diagnostics software makes the information available and actionable.

The frictional energy in a compressor will increase initially before it is severe enough to be detected by traditional techniques such as vibration or temperature monitoring, says Sal Tareen, chief application engineer at Curtiss-Wright. StressWave technology also can identify more-subtle issues such as incorrect maintenance.

To monitor and manage oil and gas assets in remote, hazardous environments, Detechtion Technologies’ Enalysis software for compressor predictive analytics is now integrated with the company’s Enbase Hub IIoT edge device.

“Our customers can choose where they want to be on our spectrum of fidelity,” said Virgil Haney, chief technology officer at Detechtion Technologies. “We can offer solutions ranging from simple up/down monitoring of compression fleets to running predictive analytics on edge devices that can dynamically change compressor set points based on actual run-time conditions, as well as stack-rank the totality of opportunities across the entire fleet to increase efficiency and cash flow.”

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