Within a process plant there is all kinds of turbomachinery, including compressors, pumps and fans. They are generally steam driven and move a lot of fluid. They are large. They are expensive. The manufactures of turbomachinery will include basic controls to meet performance specification and safe operation. This presents a good opportunity to add instrumentation for improved reliability and process availability.
Reliability on turbomachinery, and rotating equipment in general, starts with good lubrication. Bearings are carrying significant load within tight tolerances. Keeping your lubrication oil clean and dry is critical. Keeping the reservoir full is also important. It is common to have a sight glass for this level which is checked during operator rounds. Adding a point switch or continuous level instrument can alert you when the oil is at a critical level. It is a simple solution and provides added reliability.
Similar to lubrication, seals have tight tolerances and seal fluid quality is critical. Whether it is oil, glycol or water, the seal pot level must also be maintained. Lube oil can realize a benefit with continuous level monitoring, due to the volume. A seal pot level is best addressed with a point level switch. The volume is much lower and the flow rate less.
Vibration is a significant concern with turbomachinery and Reliabiilty Centered Maintenance (RCM) programs will include this as port of their reliability strategy. Turbomachiney can benefit from vibration monitors at several locations, bearings being the most common. It is important to consider vibration monitors that detect both low and high frequency vibrations.
A high density temperature transmitter can monitor temperatures at various locations on the equipment. There are many locations around turbomachinery that can have significant impact. Bearing temperatures, process fluid inlet and outlet temperatures, and lube oil temperature are among them.
Since turbomachinery is quite expensive is common to have a filtration or separation device protecting it on the process side. Pumps will have filters to remove particulate due to the critical clearance in the pump. Comperssors will not only have filters, they will also include a coalescer to remove aerosols. As buildup occurs in the filters, a differential pressure (DP) will be realized. Monitoring the DP will alert you when it is time for a filter change. A DP transmitter does this quite well.
With all of the lubrication and seal oil used on turbomachinery, there is a potential for leakage. Hydrocarbon leak detection can be added. Along with your reliability you have good environmental protection. Leaking oil is not only an environmental hazard, it can be a fire hazard as well.
As you can see, there is a lot of instrumentation that can be added to turbomachinery to maintain reliability and process availability. Pressure, temperature, level, vibration and leak detection offer significant benefits and should be considered. Every solution offered here can be done with WirelessHART transmitters, which makes the installation and commissioning simple. How cool is that?
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