Discussion on Condition Monitoring of Reciprocating Compressors
Reciprocating compressors are one of the most serious and expensive asset in the plant, these types of machines can provide higher compression ratio than similar axial or centrifugal compressors, however reciprocating compressors are more costly to maintain and suffering from high essential drawback. In spite of the criticality and importance of the reciprocating compressor , they are sometimes unobserved by condition monitoring team , simply because their typical and primary PDM tool ( FFT portable vibration analyser ) which is routinely used on rotating equipment is not well suited for reciprocating machines, and have been unsuccessfully monitoring the reciprocating machines for many years, therefore the overall machine health is frequently ignored and not diagnosed correctly until damage occurs and it became too late to save the machine from failure. in the same time experience and statistical studies show that reciprocating compressors almost consume five times as maintenance cost of counterpart centrifugal or axial machines in the plant, consequently many companies spend more money on maintenance, repair and down times than it would cost to predict failure and eliminate the root cause on these critical machines , that approach could allow for maintenance to plan their activities around CBM rather than follow run to failure strategy.
The main goal of Reliability and condition monitoring team is not only to protect their reciprocating machines from catastrophic failure by using tradition protection system and vibration overall trending, but also predict, diagnose any abnormality in the equipment and sustain reliability which could be achieved by monitoring all machine components simultaneously, recording the performance, operation parameters, Suitable vibration software, overall health and lubrication as well.
Reciprocating compressor condition monitoring systems must achieve the level of condition monitoring that centrifugal equipment users have implemented for decades,
I encourage top management to start investing in close monitoring their existing reciprocating compressors by implementing the new technologies which are available now after calculating the benefits on machine uptime and reliability.
Start ask your condition monitoring and reliability team , if they are confident enough with their current existing systems for monitoring reciprocating compressors as they are the same toward centrifugal ones, and you might be shocked that your receips is not detectable and monitored well, it’s time to take advantage of the technology that is becoming available.