Modern energy-generation plants contain myriad rotating parts, ranging from vast turbine blades to tiny cooling fans. Because they are constantly in use, enclosed in protective casings and often operating in inhospitable temperatures, pressures and chemical mixes, it is difficult for engineers to check they are functioning correctly. This is where health monitoring comes in. Machinery protection, condition monitoring, industrial vibration monitoring and partial discharge monitoring are related services provided by Meggitt to enable operators to remotely monitor the health of their machines while they are in action.
Highly durable sensors placed close to critical pieces of equipment relay information on everything from vibration anomalies to electrical currents back to a central computer system. By inspecting patterns within the signals, analysts can easily see if their equipment is in fine fettle or in need of some attention. Because any potential problems show up early on, engineers can schedule physical inspections and repairs for optimal times, when energy demand is low. Most important, health monitoring avoids catastrophic failures, potentially saving billions of dollars.
In the wind industry, industrial vibration monitoring has proven to be so effective that many insurance providers won’t provide cover without it. When the first wind turbines were installed in Europe, their planetary-style gearboxes were prone to failure due to gear-oil overheating and mechanical wear caused by gusts of wind and misalignment. Turbines often caught fire, resulting in lengthy and costly downtime. Operators needed a way to monitor the health of their turbines and turned to vibration monitoring.
When properly positioned and monitored, vibration sensors effectively identify the changes in the mechanical performance of wind turbines that are the tell-tale signs of a developing fault. Correcting malfunctions at an early stage can save thousands of dollars in repair fees, as well as reducing costs from lost output. Today, Meggitt’s sensors and systems help monitor vibration on as many as 10,000 wind turbines.