• What Does Condition Monitoring Look For?

Analytical Instrumentation

What Does Condition Monitoring Look For?

Dec 23 2021

From oil and gas refineries to food production plants, condition monitoring is one of the most valuable mechanical maintenance strategies a company can employ. The process involves actively monitoring a variety of parameters to assess the condition of machinery and detect changes that could indicate an emerging fault. So, what does condition monitoring (CM) look for?

Rust and contaminants in lubricants and oils

The detection of rust and contaminants in lubricants and oils can be useful for detecting wear on mechanical parts. This includes combustion engines, hydraulic systems, gear boxes, transmissions, power generating turbines, gas turbine engines and more. A wide range of variables are used to detect issues during an oil analysis CM. These include general appearance and colour, viscosity, additive levels, particle count, flash point, water separability, air release properties and foaming characteristics. Analysts will also test for contaminants such as soot, glycol, fuel, water and rust.

Oil analysis is also an effective way to detect lubricant degradation and ensure oil is replaced before mechanical efficiency is compromised. It’s also used to detect clogged filters and have them replaced before issues arise.

Changes in vibrational frequencies

Vibration analysis is one of the most useful condition monitoring parameters, with accelerometers used to detect even the smallest changes in frequency. Data is used to identify mechanical issues such as imbalances, misalignments and excessive wear.

Temperature variations

Infrared cameras and sensors are used to monitor mechanical temperatures and detect changes in real-time. The most sophisticated cameras have the capacity to capture, process and analyse multiple frames per second. This allows operators to detect temperature variations in the earliest possible stages. Data can be used to identify friction-generated heat, which could indicate excessive wear on mechanical parts. Temperature data can also be used to detect fluid leaks and prevent electrical surges before they happen.  

Ultrasonic “noise”  

While ultrasonic “noise” is undetected by the human ear, ultra-sensitive instruments are used to measure these high-frequency sounds and detect even the most subtle changes. Data can be used to detect early signs of wear and tear, as well as predict the onset of electrical issues such as tracking and arcing.

Condition monitoring techniques were just one of the topics discussed at the recent PEFTEC 2021 conference live streamed from Rotterdam. Organiser Marcus Pattision reports that the digital attendance strategy resulted in 50% more attendees than the previous year. Find out more about what happened behind the scenes of the completely virtual event in ‘Virtual PEFTEC 2021 - a great success globally.'

For more information on condition monitoring in general, including the history of the widely used predictive maintenance technique, don't miss 'Condition Monitoring: Everything You Need to Know'.

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