Summer heat: Fun for you, not your compressors

By Keith Staninger, digital solutions and controls portfolio leader, Ingersoll Rand

As you anticipate your Labor Day picnic in the summer sun, you prepare by grabbing a hat, sunscreen and water. You check in with your kids every hour to see how they are handling the heat. Think of it as a family version of preventative maintenance with real-time monitoring, though your family won’t want to socialize with you if you call it that.

Those same summer days require a similar mindset for your compressor room. How do you determine if the compressors are feeling the heat? Running into the compressor room to ask them isn't exactly convenient while you're out with your family enjoying that picnic. Unless, of course, your plant shuts down because of it. Then you'll enjoy a nice long visit.

You could choose to do this on your own, but it takes time. Your project would require mobile apps, data tables, hardware, cellular plans and that’s before you even get to handling security and data privacy. Try to find the time to become an expert and set up that whole ecosystem while doing your day job.

The growing trend is to put agreements in place with equipment vendors to provide insights from the data to service the machines more effectively. In doing so, you can access remote and condition-based monitoring, predictive maintenance analytics, visual management tools and trigger service requests for the equipment if there is a problem.

These tools can continuously analyze the compressor temperatures and operating parameters to identify changes in the performance of the cooling system. A traditional threshold-based alarm system only alerts you when the compressor is operating at an unsafe temperature. By then, it’s already a problem. A system with continuous monitoring and application-specific predictive analytics predicts a problem so you can address it during the workday, not during your off time. 

I suggest two rules:

  1. Identify the outcome you want and collect only the data required to solve it
  2. Ensure the person seeing the data is capable of identifying the problem

The goal isn't to build a massive data system that collects random information that you’ll never look at. The only goal is to keep you focused on your company’s core product and not become a compressor expert. And to keep you at that picnic.