Cleans 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 a 410 Defender sensor - a self-contained, battery-powered unit developed specifically to provide condition monitoring for rotating machinery. Featuring an integrated LCD display for immediate feedback, the compact unit is extremely accurate and of robust construction.

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.

Since debris can accumulate quickly, readings are taken twice during a shift to monitor fan performance and to establish whether cleaning is required. Matthew says the 410 Defender's unique design and ingenious operating system has "helped maintain an interest" in tackling the vibration problem in these fans. A sharp tap is all that is needed to turn the Defender on. The display automatically reverts to sleep mode after one
minute, thereby extending the battery's operating life.

Matthew says following the installation of the 410 Defender units, corrective procedures were successfully established and fan vibration levels reduced: "The 410 Defender units have been installed on 300kW fans, which are particularly prone to impeller build-ups. The 410s are proving extremely reliable and the stainless steel construction is ideal
for the process plant environment."

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October 2005

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