Author: Mark Whitmore, general manager, BOGE Compressors Ltd
Cutting energy consumption is almost always the best way to enhance plant efficiency and there are now a number of tools available with which to evaluate, manage and reduce consumption. For example, nearly all of the energy that is used to power an air compressor gets converted to heat and you can harness this heat source to the financial benefit of your business.
To evaluate efficiency, good diagnostic information is essential. This will ensure that problems are detected early enough to allow planned maintenance intervention or repair to be carried out with minimal disruption, reducing overall maintenance costs, improving safety and increasing both plant availability and product quality.
Today’s designers and engineers have developed a wide range of portable and online tools to monitor various parameters. With the help of these tools you can swiftly determine how your critical equipment is running and identify early any operational problems so that they can be addressed at a time convenient to you or the production process, thus maximising asset performance and efficiency.
With a growing number of systems now incorporating their own diagnostic tools, companies should review the options to take advantage of the best possible opportunities. In particular, the increased use of electronics in compressors means that energy efficiency can be enhanced. This is because switching behaviour is optimised through the use of using intelligent control systems. Rising electricity prices over recent years have added yet another challenge to those striving to maintain profitability and running a lean business has rarely been so difficult, but compressor diagnostics are developing fast to help manage the cost of energy.
The combination of status checks and remote monitoring enables the provider to offer service and contractual arrangements that are better tailored – and more cost-effective – for the customer’s needs. For example, customers can now invest in a ‘total responsibility’ service contract, in addition to warranties on all the components of the compressor that can last as long as five years. And such are the enhanced capabilities of compressor diagnostics that they are set to raise the duration of warranties to the ten-year mark.
The move is towards service contracts that are better value for the user, based on a more modular concept. If customers can select the modules that are most important to them, such as remote maintenance and fault diagnostics, and add these to their service contract as additional modules without immediately having to sign a full service contract, then solutions can be tailored to the customer’s specific requirements and budget.
Machine failure, typically the result of incorrect installation and maintenance of components and equipment rather than normal wear and tear, can be easily prevented by applying advanced, but not necessarily expensive, diagnostic tools. Such tools enable efficient predictive maintenance, and the long term reliability of countless manufacturing and process systems depend on it. Monitoring devices enable plant operators to react swiftly to impending failures within the system and therefore an effective monitoring regime is an essential part of any machine maintenance programme.