KCF Technologies Blog

Fundamentals of Vibration – Simplified Calculation for Converting Velocity to Displacement Application: Structural Vibration Monitoring in Shale Gas Operations

NOTE: for a quick read, skip ahead to where it says “Here’s How” below…

At KCF, we are passionate about eliminating needless machine failures, and vibration is our best tool.  A practical problem that often comes up is this: how much is something vibrating, in a way I can understand?  Displacement (distance traveled by an object, in time) is something we can all understand: how many inches is my something vibrating, where something can be a pipe, a motor, a pump, a fan, a beam, ceiling, floor, etc.  There are sensors that measure displacement directly, accelerometers, especially wireless accelerometers, make it much easier because we can mount externally on a machine with a magnet.

With software and a simple calculation, you can use the accelerometer measurement to calculate the displacement, and get an accurate estimate of how many inches (or milli-meters for our Canadian and European friends) something is vibrating.  The fundamental equation for vibration, or any oscillating motion is:

 In a simple oscillating vibration, A (t) = A1cos(f1*t) + A2cos(f2*t) + …  (where A1 is the amplitude at frequency f1, etc.)

By integration, the velocity, V (t) = A1/f1*sin(f1*t) + A2/f2*sin(f2*t) + … 

Integrating again, displacement, D (t) = A1/f21*cos (f1*t) + A2/f22*cos(f2*t) + … 

But fortunately, the software does most of the work for you, and it’s much easier to get a rough estimate, especially when you have one dominant vibration frequency. 

Here’s how:

1)    Use the software to find the peak velocity at a given frequency (inches/second).  NOTE: The software has already integrated to convert acceleration to velocity.
2)    Identify the frequency of that peak (RPM)
3)    Estimate as follows:


Example: we had a customer recently in a well completion operation, and they were seeking to know the amplitude of vibration of a high-pressure pipe.  They were using a practical and proven method, duct-taping a sharpie to the pipe and duct-taping a piece of cardboard to the adjacent structure.  A great practical solution, and it answered the question, but there is an easier way!  Just follow these steps:

1)    Peak Velocity = 15 in/s  (it was a high-amplitude application)
2)    Identify the frequency of the dominant peak = 943 RPM  (15.7 Hz)
3)    Displacement = 10 X 15 / 943 = 0.15 inches.

Answer: the pipe is vibrating a little more than 1/8th of an inch.  It’s not exact, but it’s accurate enough to be very useful and answer a question, and it doesn’t require duct tape!

What makes the new SmartDiagnostics Vibration Sensor Node 10x better than the original?

Among the many new features of the SmartDiagnostics 2.0 system, the product with the most drastic changes is the Vibration Sensor Node. The core of SmartDiagnostics, the VSN is a vibration and temperature sensor capable of collecting data every 4 seconds!

But what really makes the VSN 2.0 10x better?
  • Twice the range: 800 ft line-of-sight and on average 150-500 ft in a heavy industrial environment
  • Twice the frequency range: up to 8192 Hz sampling frequency to allow for a greater variety of applications
  • Two and a half times more robust: Class I, Division II hazardous certification, an IP65 rating making the new sensor dust-tight and impervious to water jets, and a strong impact resistance (Just for fun, we dropped one off the roof of our building, about 2 stories up, and it still was collecting data after hitting the concrete!)
With these features, the VSN 2.0 packs a big punch into a sensor about the size of a golf ball. In addition to these improvements, the sensors also feature a new patent pending antenna design, a completely redesigned mechanical enclosure, and a new accelerometer, giving the sensor a higher range and including electrical filtering to ensure no aliasing. 

Like the VSN 1.0, the new sensors are extremely low-power, so they can use an inexpensive, off-the-shelf battery that rarely needs changed. In fact, the new sensors require even less power, and both models have the option of using thermal or solar energy harvesters.

The hardware isn't the only part of the sensor that's been improved. The new wireless protocol, KCF's DART wireless, enables dynamic network error recovery and 5 channel frequency agility, meaning that even with RF interference, the vast majority of the data (>99%) will be available and accurate in all but the worst environments. The new protocol also allows more sensors to communicate with each receiver, with up to 100 sensors potentially talking to one receiver at any given time.

All these features will allow KCF to help our customers get the most out of their machinery, especially in new applications such as Oil & Gas, Food Manufacturing, and many others.

Now we can give more machines a voice and help to maintain the health of our current customers' machinery more extensively than ever before. 

Value Innovation Series: Walk-around PdM vs Low-Cost Wireless Continuous Condition Monitoring

Route-based vibration monitoring is used in plants to track the health of motors, pumps, fans and other equipment in the balance of plant.  A handheld system is used to acquired data, and the vibration technician walks to each monitoring point to take the data.  This is typically done on monthly or quarterly basis, depending on the characteristics of the machine.  Vibration routes are common because they can be inexpensive in capital cost since one acquisition system is used to gather data on hundreds of machines.  However, routes have three major shortcomings when looking to improve uptime and safety in plant operations:
  1. Dangerous: Routes require the analyst to gather data in and around operating equipment, creating dangerous situations
  2. Incomplete Information: No data is acquired in the time between visits
  3. Time Waste: Routes are labor intensive, and most of the labor is wasted visiting healthy machines.

Continuous wireless condition monitoring is an emerging technology that cuts through each of these three shortcomings.  It doesn’t eliminate the route, or the detailed analysis of a bad actor.  Rather, it makes the monitoring and analysis much more efficient and much safer.  

  1.  Safety Improvement: Wireless sensors are permanently (or, for some bad actors, semi-permanently) mounted on the machines when they are NOT running.  Our sensors are mounted inside enclosures for AHUs (Air Handling Units), on rooftops, and on high-speed rolling equipment, just to name a few, where it’s much safer to install sensors during a shutdown.

  2. More Information: Wireless condition monitoring is set up on a schedule, and our systems typically are set up to take data once per hour (for a low-risk machine) or as often as once per minute (high-risk).  This means that the wireless system takes between 2,000 and 100,000 more measurements compared to a quarterly walkaround!!!  Why does this matter?  Because machines don’t always behave badly when you want them to, or fail when you expect them to.  High vibration can be intermittent, and load dependent.  Continuous monitoring enables trending of the information over time, helping to identify load conditions or operating conditions that lead to high vibration.  Continuous monitoring also makes it possible to generate alarms in situations when the machine develops a process-related failure between monthly or quarterly check-ups.

  3. Efficiency: With a route, if only 10% of a set of machines are in need of maintenance, that means that route—based measurements are wasting 90% of the time of your (well-paid) vibration analysts!!!  They are walking to visit machines that are perfectly healthy.  With wireless condition monitoring, the healthy machines are clearly identified remotely, in software, enabling the PdM, reliability, and maintenance experts to focus their attention efficiently on the 10% of machines that actually need attention, and schedule the appropriate detailed investigation.

Of course, none of this was possible even five years ago.  With SmartDiagnostics®, KCF has built a system that is capable of continuous monitoring and trending of full-spectrum data, and delivering it with install times under 15 minutes and at a lower cost than route-based techniques.  Check us out to find out what a difference this can make to keep your operations and people safe and efficient!

What's new with SmartDiagnostics® 2.0?

With the ever-growing demand for productivity across all industries in a challenging economy, avoiding outages and maximizing uptime has never been more vital. We are always looking to improve our products, and after countless hours of work, we've developed the second generation of our SmartDiagnostics® predictive maintenance system to help cut costs and reduce downtime in a variety of industries.

If you've taken a closer look at our website over the past week, you may have noticed some differences in the SmartDiagnostics® product family, including new sensors, receivers, servers, software, and the introduction of the SmartDiagnostics Sentry Service. While our website can give you all the specs on the products and describe how they work together, we want to take this opportunity to explain in more detail on our blog just what the differences are in the products and how they can be useful in the field.

We're hoping to have some video demonstrations and how-tos in the coming months to help get customers started with our new products, and we're excited to share with you all of the big improvements we've made.

With the introduction of these new products, we're working even harder to "give your machines a voice" and your machines can speak more clearly than ever with SmartDiagnostics® 2.0.

Next week, we'll take a look at the Vibration Sensor Node 2.0 and see how it compares to its predecessor.

Value Innovation Series: University Solutions to Bridge the Gaps in PdM

Academic institutions, particularly large colleges and universities, continually strive to improve and enhance their maintenance programs in an effort to improve overall efficiency.  Where reactive maintenance practices were once the norm, institutions are beginning to take a more proactive, predictive approach to machinery maintenance.  Continuous wireless vibration monitoring technologies have quickly become a cost-effective solution to compliment standard walkaround monitoring systems most commonly used.  Depending on the specific application and situation, both methods of data collection prove effective, but there are added advantages to continuous monitoring that are critical to maximizing uptime and improving overall efficiency.

“See the Whole Movie, Not Just a Scene”

Our customer, a world-leading university comprised of over 600 buildings, uses both wireless continuous condition monitoring and walkaround systems to monitor machinery health as part of a reliability-centered maintenance approach.  A large ventilation fan located within a research facility was part of their quarterly walkaround program, but failed unexpectedly between the scheduled data acquisition period resulting in costly downtime, expensive repairs, and increased safety concerns.  A simple data gathering solution was needed to provide reliable, continuous data following the repair, alignment, and balancing of the fan, and to monitor regularly (vs. quarterly) to better detect subsequent failures otherwise missed by the walkaround system.

The SmartDiagnostics® system was quickly implemented to gather critical, continuous data during both the repair and start-up of the unit.  Four sensors were installed in a matter of minutes and allowed easy data acquisition on axial and radial positions of the inboard and outboard fan bearings, and radial position of the motor.  Rapid setup and installation, coupled with one minute data acquisition, has provided technicians with the capability to look deeper, trend better, and see the whole “movie”….to view real-time data over an extended period of time establishing baselines and trending day-to-day operating loads of the unit.

The ease-of-use and flexibility of the SmartDiagnostics® system leads to long-term savings while effectively reducing overall maintenance, repair, and replacement costs leading to improved overall reliability. 

Our Website (and Our Blog) Has a New Look!

Welcome to our new blog! It looks a bit different and that's because it's been integrated with our brand new website! Now you can get all of your information about our products, industries we're in, whitepapers, blog posts, and links to all of our other social media sites from one place. As always, you can reach our blog from blog.kcftech.com or navigate to it from the main website by clicking blog in the top navigation bar.

As you may have noticed, you can see whenever we add a new blog post on our company LinkedIn page, on our Google+ page, or on twitter. Or you can subscribe to our blog via email by entering your email address in the bar on the right. We're planning on posting new information about twice a week, so check back often to see more value innovations, new products we're releasing over the new few weeks, maintenance tips, vibration fundamentals, industry information and a lot more!

Feel free to contact us on any of our social media platforms. We want to know what you are interested in and what you'd like to see more of on our blog and feedback on what we've posted. Our job is to give machines a voice, but we want to listen to what you have to say as well! We'll be back with another value innovation this Thursday.

Value Innovation Series: Paper Machines Increased Safety and Downtime Avoidance

SmartDiagnostics Sensor on a Vacuum Pump
In the pulp and paper industry, condition-based monitoring is particularly challenging because of the large number of bearings on each machine, and the difficulty in safely accessing the machines to acquire predictive data. In general, paper manufacturing involves large, complex, fast-moving machinery that can be extremely costly in cases of unexpected downtime or bearing failures, creating a real need for cost-effective and accurate monitoring.

High risk and remote applications such as an enclosed converter make it nearly impossible to monitor with handheld devices in many locations. Some machines prone to failure such as a makeup liquor pump can cause serious problems for maintenance teams. With such small margins in the paper industry, even small failures can be costly if companies aren't prepared.

In our experience, wireless condition monitoring is the least-expensive and easiest way to achieve continuous monitoring on paper production machines. At one of the plants we work with, installing just 20 wireless sensors affordably enables continuous monitoring of the vibration and temperature trends. Each sensor wirelessly transmits high-value data safely and at low cost, enabling automatic alarms and integration into the existing software infrastructure.

Now that the system is in place, the paper mill is able to automatically track the vibration levels from each machine, leading to more productive time for the maintenance team, and rapid installation gives the company the option to expand across the plant without major disruption of operations.

Coming up in the following weeks, we'll be posting more stories from the pulp and paper industry, as well as the oil and gas industry, power generation industry, HVAC/R industry, and food and beverage industry.

Note: This is the second in a series of posts discussing value innovations using SmartDiagnostics®. If you missed our post last week, click here.

KCF to Build and Deploy Four Demonstration Systems with $25,000 SGICC Award

What is KCF Technologies doing with the winnings from the Shale Gas Innovation Contest?

Gary Koopmann and Jeremy Frank
accept SGICC Award
In May, KCF’s SmartDiagnostics® was a finalist at the Shale Gas Innovation Contest hosted by the Shale Gas Innovation and Commercialization Center (SGICC) of Ben Franklin and Penn State.  We were thrilled to be selected as a winner, especially because of the exposure it's given to not only our product, but predictive maintenance in general. Our company is now putting the $25,000 award to good use: building additional systems for trial installations to help spread the word about the game-changing impact on safety and reliability for equipment in shale gas operations.

Some members of SGICC and
PA DCED stopped by the office
Two of the demonstration kits have already been deployed at Universal Well Services and Williams sites in Pennsylvania. Additionally, we partnered with ShaleNet to foster the training of technicians in the industry and teach them to use predictive monitoring techniques to improve the efficiency and safety of shale gas monitoring. We also work with leading shale gas organizations including the Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association and Marcellus Shale Coalition.

Stay tuned for updates on the deployments over the next several weeks.

For more information on the contest, check out the press release here: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/05/prweb11869499.htm

Value Innovation Series: Wastewater Facility Continuous Wireless Health Monitoring

Dewatering Centrifuge with Vibration Sensor Nodes
Last spring, our company was able to offer an innovative solution at a wastewater plant in central Pennsylvania that had two large dewatering centrifuges. Because of the centrifuge design, the bearings on the machine are inherently imbalanced, leading to the rapid wear of parts. At the time, the plant was not using any type of sensor technology to detect changes in vibration, but the facility operator identified the possibility of using a predictive maintenance system to monitor the condition of the bearings and centrifuge system. The goal was to reduce unnecessary maintenance and avoid sudden unexpected failures, since a broken centrifuge could be costly to replace and cause a bottleneck in the operation.

As a result, the facility operator chose to install SmartDiagnostics® sensors on the axial and radial bearing points of both centrifuges. The system was installed and receiving measurements in less than 15 minutes, and cost about $3,500 to set up. After three months of operation, an axial sensor point identified a developing machine behavior that could have otherwise gone unnoticed.

By installing a predictive monitoring system, the wastewater plant received value in several different ways. Cloud-based data flow allowed for monitoring outside the plant, and installation in under 20 minutes made sure there weren't any disruptions to normal plant operations. SmartDiagnostics® sensors' continuous health tracking made machine trends much more apparent with 1,000x more data, and once a failure began, the facility saved both time and money through reduce maintenance and downtime avoidance.

With over 15,000 facilities of this size or larger in the U.S. and very little money to support them, predictive maintenance could offer additional value to wastewater plants across the country by predicting failures to reduce downtime.

Note: This is the first in our Value Innovation Series of posts appearing every Thursday. Be sure to check back next week for more posts like this one!

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