The rewards of remote monitoring for air compressor maintenance

The Compressed Air and Gas Institute offered its views on the issue of remote monitoring as part of its effort to educate its members and others who use compressed air.

03/04/2014


Are we close to receiving tweets from Air Compressor Number Four on the shop floor? Actually, we’ve With remote monitoring systems, the system and its component parts can be viewed at a glance. (Image courtesy of CAGI)already moved beyond it. Today’s technology allows an unprecedented flow of information, 24/7, to multiple locations, allowing extraordinary advances in maintenance scheduling, service efficiency, and life extension of the equipment.           

Before connectivity

In analog days, air compressor maintenance was a hit-or-miss mix of guesswork, mechanical gauges, and luck. Maintenance was performed based on elapsed time first, and actual operating hours second. As a result, if the equipment ever got the correct attention at exactly the right time, it was simply a matter of luck. There was no opportunity for improved energy efficiencies—let alone the potential benefit of anticipating problems before they occur. Magnified by many machines in multiple locations and the problem is a perfect maintenance nightmare.

Digital “squeaky wheel”

Enter the digital age of the networks, the Internet, cell phones, and texting, and possibilities of remote monitoring go from theoretical to practical to where it is today: indispensable. Virtually universal connectivity has unleashed a revolution in maintenance when compressors are equipped with remote monitoring capability. The digital “squeaky wheel” can now get the grease only when it is required and be quietly monitored the rest of the time.

With the best remote monitoring systems, the entire status of the system can be viewed at a glance, as well as each system component. For example, pressure and temperature, lifetime and loaded hours, and alarm status of each component can be read and recorded. Even the service information for individual compressors can be communicated, with all relevant data including service reminders for items such as inlet filter, separator, and fluid changes. This facilitates more convenient routine maintenance scheduling.

But remote monitoring can be a two-way street, too. Some systems even allow you to remotely adjust parameters such as load and unload pressure settings, drain intervals, unloaded stop time, and other factors.

The benefits are pretty obvious—and impressive:

  • The maintenance department knows when they need to schedule maintenance—before it becomes a problem.
  • They can create a realistic plan for maintenance that maximizes their limited resources and minimizes their risk of a breakdown and the expensive downtime that would ensue.

 

Documented, not deduced

Perhaps one of the most powerful arguments for remote monitoring is power itself. The ability to track energy consumption is like having a 24/7 energy audit for every machine. Energy rebates are not only possible but practical when you can provide the utility documented power consumption data crunched anyway they want it. The savings often justifies the purchase of new equipment with monitoring capabilities.

Increased data

Besides extracting rebates from utilities, remote monitoring data can provide assurance in the face of increasing regulatory demands. You can document and archive a perfect “footprint,” by machine, of all performance data and power consumption—all right down to the minute with the right system! You’re covered for the regulatory demands of today—and for the foreseeable future.

Up-to-the-minute status

Of course, some maintenance departments may choose to subcontract compressor maintenance to the distributor or manufacturer. Remote monitoring allows off-site service personnel to monitor the system and dispatch technicians when the time is right. An e-mail or text lets them know where and when it’s time to check in on a machine. No wasted time. No guesswork. No unnecessary stops. And with the maintenance department getting copies of the alerts, they can keep an eye on the whole process.

Monitoring the future

Today, more and more organizations are taking advantage of the potential of remote monitoring for stationary and mobile air compressors. It is easy to imagine that, in the near future, it will be standard equipment rather than an option. Manufacturers will continue to innovate new ways to enhance measurement, monitoring, and communications capabilities of machines.

The bottom line is more control over the machine, and the maintenance process. And the “digitization of the mechanical” can lead to an even more proactive approach where the compressor becomes more intelligent.

And that is a very intelligent approach to the future.

CAGI educational resources include e-learning coursework on the SmartSite, selection guides, videos, and the Compressed Air & Gas Handbook. For more information, visit the CAGI website at www.cagi.org



The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
Doubling down on digital manufacturing; Data driving predictive maintenance; Electric motors and generators; Rewarding operational improvement
2017 Lubrication Guide; Software tools; Microgrids and energy strategies; Use robots effectively
Prescriptive maintenance; Hannover Messe 2017 recap; Reduce welding errors
The cloud, mobility, and remote operations; SCADA and contextual mobility; Custom UPS empowering a secure pipeline
Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Mobility as the means to offshore innovation; Preventing another Deepwater Horizon; ROVs as subsea robots; SCADA and the radio spectrum
Research team developing Tesla coil designs; Implementing wireless process sensing
Commissioning electrical systems; Designing emergency and standby generator systems; Paralleling switchgear generator systems
Natural gas engines; New applications for fuel cells; Large engines become more efficient; Extending boiler life

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
The maintenance journey has been a long, slow trek for most manufacturers and has gone from preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance.
Featured articles highlight technologies that enable the Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies to get data more easily to the user.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me