Condition monitoring and automatic lubrication of flood pumps

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Schaeffler explains to MEPCA how its condition monitoring and automatic lubrication solutions are helping one customer to reduce maintenance and repair costs and ensure the continuous availability of critical pumping systems, 

Floods are a major challenge for many countries today. Over the last few years, the UK has suffered badly from a series of violent storms that caused widespread flooding – both in terms of coastal areas and river floods. Industry experts predict that due to the effects of climate change, these types of storms are likely to continue over the next decade and beyond, with the economic cost to the UK being as high as £6 billion.

Despite significant achievements in the UK’s river flood forecasting and early warning systems, there is still a need for effective tools and measures, either to prevent the floods or at least to decrease their negative impact on agricultural and urban areas. This information can be used by storm-water and flood pumping stations to avoid the damage that can occur after a flood. One of the main issues is the condition monitoring of these pumping stations. In some cases, these stations are not ready for an instant response to natural disasters such as floods. To prevent unexpected failures of the drives or the pumps themselves, it is necessary to monitor the condition of the equipment. One method of achieving this is to install condition monitoring devices on pumps and motors to provide advanced warnings of any impending bearing failures.

Flood pumping station in Belgium

In a recent example in Belgium, Schaeffler’s SmartCheck condition monitoring devices and CONCEPT2 automatic lubricators were installed on flood pumps and motors. The Belgian customer has since seen a range of benefits, including the prevention of unplanned downtime to pumping stations, reduced maintenance costs and increased plant availability.

The challenge

The customer is primarily responsible for water, air and environmental resources. The company’s area of responsibility includes maintaining the operation of pumping stations.

To avoid flooding in its area of responsibility, the customer built a pumping station. A catch basin and three propeller pumps in the pumping station ensure that any excess water is pumped out and diverted accordingly. Inadequate pump monitoring led to the unforeseen failure of a bearing. As a result of this, the pump wheel began to vibrate, causing 5cm of wear to the pump housing. To prevent pump failures due to bearing damage in the future, the customer sought a condition monitoring solution for the pumping station.

Schaeffler’s solution

Schaeffler experts recommended installing six CONCEPT2 automatic lubrication systems for the lubrication of bearings in the motors and the pumps. This solution permitted ongoing and reliable lubrication of the bearings. CONCEPT2 supplied two lubrication points independently of each other and can withstand pressures up to 50 bar.

Schaeffler also recommended installing nine SmartCheck condition monitoring devices to monitor the three pump and motor units. Two SmartChecks were installed per unit to monitor the upper and lower motor bearings, along with an additional SmartCheck on each of the pump bearings.

Any deviations or changes in vibration behaviour are detected by SmartCheck and reported via the customer’s control system, allowing emerging bearing damage to be detected at an early stage. Monitored parameters include vibration, temperature, speed and cavitation.

The local dealer Supplimax, a certified Schaeffler partner, recommended the systems and will be providing future on-site service advice.

Customer Benefits

As a result of Schaeffler’s holistic predictive monitoring solution, the customer is benefitting from the prevention of unplanned downtime of the pumping station during ongoing operation and the lack of associated costs. It is also not suffering secondary damage to its motors and pumps. This means there is increased plant availability and greater security due to self-reporting systems. And of course, the maintenance has been significantly reduced, and the high cost of system damage eliminated.

As the pumping station is not manned permanently, remote monitoring provides a sound alternative method of observing the system. This holistic solution can also be applied and extended to other applications in almost any plant.

www.schaeffler.co.uk

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