Uptime is one of the key considerations for all power generators. Electricity supply must equal demand at all times. Downtime, especially unplanned downtime, is very difficult to deal with and can be quite costly. Fortunately condition based monitoring can go a long way towards preventing unscheduled downtime and achieving uptime goals in excess of 98%. In particular, on-site oil analysis is a key tool used by power generators to avoid unplanned outages.
Chillers are used across a range of industries to remove heat from processes or from facilities. Some examples include commercial brewing operations that keep their entire brew houses near zero degrees Celsius or chemical processes that require a steady supply of chilled water for their processes.
Pumps are used in industrial and fleet applications to move liquids and gases. Most pumps used in industrial applications are either positive displacement or centrifugal. In both cases bearings are the component that must be lubricated and monitored. Rotary positive displacement pumps have gears, screws, lobes or vanes which are also lubricated, usually by the fluid they are pumping, whether it is a lubricant or an oil /air mix.
Hydraulic systems are used in industrial, mobile and aviation applications to transmit power to operate equipment. They are incredibly efficient, compact, and lightweight relative to a mechanical equivalent. Hydraulic fluids transmit force in the system, and as such are carefully chosen by the system maker. Chemical stability, high flash and fire points, viscosity, and oxidation resistance are all valued, and as a result mineral and synthetic hydrocarbon fluids are selected for mobile and industrial systems, whereas functional chemicals such as phosphate esters are chosen for aviation and specialized industrial applications.
Compressed Air is considered to be the 4th utility after power, water and fuel (natural gas), and usually the one that all customers must generate and provide themselves. Compressed air is the energy of choice to power a great variety of applications across fleet and industrial applications. Since compressors are integral to providing the power for a variety of machines throughout a plant or on a vehicle, reliability and uptime of compressors is paramount.
Oil analysis is a key tool used to ensure that compressors stay up and running and that unscheduled downtime is minimized. This brief Ask the Expert video explains the parts of a compressor that are typically monitored using oil analysis, the most common failure modes for compressors, what types of tests are typically run on the oil, and what on-site instruments are best-suited to performing that suite of tests.
Monitoring turbines with oil analysis is well known and well established. All turbines, both steam and gas, have a large oil reservoir to lubricate the turbine bearings. Older designs had separate sumps for the hydraulic control of valves, whereas newer designs may have the lube oil and hydraulic sump linked together. Power plant operators new to oil analysis can be easily confused about what all the tests are. Fortunately, the industry has developed umbrella specifications for power plant lubrication monitoring, such as ASTM D4378 and ASTM D6224, and these define almost every test used to qualify lubricants for new and in-service monitoring for power plants.
Oil analysis is a very useful tool for gear systems. Geared systems are found across both mobile and industrial equipment. Though they are designed to be very reliable, they cause a lot of disruption and costs when they wear or break due to poor operation or contamination. Oil analysis is a great tool to detect when failure conditions are developing, and as such most gear manufacturers suggest condition monitoring, including oil analysis.
Enable your service team with a portable oil analyzer
It is not an easy task to accurately assess the condition of lubricating oil after a sample has been taken from your machinery. Such timely information is critical in helping service engineers to identify potential problems and to plan appropriate maintenance actions. Lubricant condition can be expressed in terms of oil degradation and contamination and they differ in reciprocal engines (off and on highway truck fleet, automotive fleet, marine vessel fleets) and in rotating machines (commonly used in industrial manufacturing plants). These difference are summarized in the table below