3 Affordable Monitoring Applications to Solve 3 Far Too Common Pumping Problems

by Eric Lunsford
June 13, 2016

Historically our clients have been very diligent about installing monitoring solutions for their mission critical pumps. Due to the cost of installing the system and the cost of ongoing maintenance of the system, condition monitoring solutions for all pumps on site has been typically unrealistic.

Manual monitoring of the remaining pumps or a policy of ‘run until breakdown’ is normal which in light of today’s technology can prove to be MORE expensive and unnecessary.

Older monitoring systems meant wiring the sensors into the control center; it was expensive, time consuming and created a lot of infrastructure to maintain.

It meant a limited roll out of electronic condition monitoring to pumps with either a high risk of maintenance issues or a high impact when a maintenance issue does occur. For example – pumps that have repeat failures, pumps without spares or pumps where failure could cause an environmental incident.

With the advances of wireless technology the same monitoring systems can be installed without the time or expense of maintaining a complicated infrastructure. It has now become affordable to install a higher quality monitoring system across more of your pumping process system.

These three monitoring applications can help a plant implement predictive maintenance systems which can reduce maintenance costs, unexpected failures, repair and overhaul time – and at the same time increase uptime by up to 30% and increase MTBF.

Affordable Monitoring Application #1: Cavitation

While many cases of cavitation occur when a pump is operated outside of their design specifications, there are still times when a pump operating within its specifications can still experience cavitation.

A simple discharge pressure monitoring system (consisting of vibration monitoring and discharge pressure) can give your central monitoring system an alert when a pump is likely ‘pre-cavitation.’ Depending on the frequency of manual rounds this might mean the prevention of damage and downtime compared to discovering cavitation in progress.

For high-head multi-stage pumps – the risk of damage with even brief periods of cavitation means that pressure differential across the pump should be continuously monitored.

Affordable Monitoring Application #2: Vibration

Vibration monitoring systems can give you indicators on running condition as well as faults and failures. Vibration transmitters can give you a series of vibration frequencies which can in turn be used to diagnose the cause of the vibrations in a given pump.

Affordable Monitoring Application #3: Pump Seal Monitoring

For pumps that have auxiliary seal flush system, API 682 recommends moving from switches to continuous level management.

With recent advances in technology, rather than having to wire the monitoring system into the network it can be installed wirelessly and then connected to the central monitoring system.

I’ll admit it may take some retrofitting of technology to get the seal flush reservoirs installed so they can be remotely monitored. But continuous monitoring will give far more lead time to address maintenance issues compared to intermittent manual maintenance inspections of pump seals.

If it is time to increase the reliability of your pumping systems then the team here at Pye-Barker can help you select and install pump monitoring systems for your plant. Drop us a line at sales@pyebarker.com or call 404-363-6000 for help with all your pumping system needs.

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