Clean up of process plant build-up.
By establishing an effective condition-monitoring strategy, the
chlor-alkali producer INEOS Chlor Limited knew it could cut
equipment downtime and improve efficiency.
Diagnosing mechanical failure in fans, pumps and motors can be a tall
order, especially if the applications are located in demanding environments
or hard-to-reach places. Many companies overcome this problem by
introducing a condition-monitoring regime, which provides an early warning
of any impending machine failure that could result in production downtime.
Of course, before such a solution can be put in place, the potential for
failure has to be recognised. It was determined that a build-up of solids in
its process plant extraction fans could seriously inhibit production. Matthew
Jessop, their Business Machines Engineer explains: "In the past, there
has been a lot of debate about whether the vibration caused by a build-up
of debris on the fans' impellers was severe enough to shut the fans down
and clean them."
It was eventually agreed that a systematic approach to cleaning, based on
fan performance and vibration levels, was required. The responsibility of
collecting fan data fell to vibration sensors.
Although the data collected from the units was used to monitor build-up
and to set thresholds for initiating clean-up operations, the real problem,
Matthew admits, occurs when lumps of build-up fly off the impeller. "When
the build-up on the impeller reaches a certain level, small lumps fly off
causing additional imbalances in the motor shafts and greater vibration.
With vibration sensors, we can designate a vibration level at which
cleaning is initiated, thereby addressing the problem before it affects
production. The readings, which can be collated without calling in an
expert, also help us to ascertain whether an adequate level of cleaning
has been performed."
Since debris can accumulate quickly, readings are taken twice during a
shift to monitor fan performance and to establish whether cleaning is
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