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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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