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Online monitoring solution cuts fan failures to zero for utility

Live monitoring has cut fan rebuilds from three-monthly intervals to zero over 12 months for a major US utility supplier. By identifying the cause of failure, the online monitoring solution has enabled the utility to eliminate downtime...


Live monitoring has cut fan rebuilds from three-monthly intervals to zero over 12 months for a major US utility supplier. By identifying the cause of failure, the online monitoring solution has enabled the utility to eliminate downtime resulting from fan failures and stop a costly series of fan rebuilds.

Despite a largely successful predictive maintenance program at the utility, catastrophic failure of semi-critical equipment was a regular occurrence. With five fan rebuilds in just 15 months, the utility determined that the fans required constant monitoring and urgently sought a solution. Without resources for an onsite solution, the utility contacted SKF, who prescribed an SKF Multilog IMx-S online monitoring system to collect vibration reports on the condition of the equipment.

“The plant obtained an SKF Multilog IMx-S online monitoring system and upgraded software to continuously monitor the equipment in an effort to determine the root cause of the frequent failures,” explained Marty Herzog, SKF marketing director for traditional energy. “The online monitoring system provided the extra information/data required to determine the root cause of the failure, which turned out to be a looseness that only showed up periodically: harmonics at half of operating speed that never showed up on monthly readings, but appeared when live monitoring was turned on.”

The SKF Multilog IMx-S online monitoring system is designed to provide a complete system for early fault detection and prevention, automatic advice for correcting existing or impending conditions, and advanced condition-based maintenance to optimize machine reliability, availability and performance.

The Multilog system is extremely versatile, with either 16, or up to 64 analogue signal inputs, configurable for a variety of sensors. Signals, such as acceleration, velocity, and displacement or other parameters, are easily adopted, and each input can be configured for ICP (accelerometers), proximity probes, 4-20 mA or ± 25 V.

Improving machine reliability further is the functionality to set individual conditions for warnings and alarms for each point, controlled by machine speed or load. The unique built-in hardware auto-diagnosis system continuously checks all sensors, cabling and electronics for any faults, signal interruption, shortcuts or power failure, with any malfunction triggering an alarm allowing remedial action to be taken quickly.

With the SKF Multilog IMx-S online monitoring system installed, the utility was able to identify the cause of fan failure, address it and boost the life cycle of the fan turbines. Instead of five rebuilds in 15 months, at the time of writing, no further problems have been experienced for over a year.

For further information, contact SKF Canada at www.skf.ca.