Get more value out of a machine protection system

Sybille Schumann, Product Manager for Brüel & Kjær Vibro’s VIBROCONTROL 6000® data acquisition and conditioning unit, talks about a cost-effective solution for upgrading an existing protection system to condition monitoring using the new Condition Monitoring Interface VI-6080.

What role does Brüel & Kjær Vibro have in machine monitoring?

Sybille Schumann: "Brüel & Kjær Vibro provides protection and condition monitoring solutions for rotating machinery in a number of different industries. We have 60 years of experience in developing vibration sensors, instruments and plant-wide systems, much of which is based on close cooperation with end-users and machine manufacturers. We also offer a wide range of services. All of this is intended to protect the machine fleet and to reduce downtime and maintenance costs and increase machine reliability for our customers. We have a world-wide sales and support network to support the customer in this effort."

You provide both protection and condition monitoring systems. Isn’t condition monitoring an automatic extension of a protective system?

Sybille Schumann: "This is certainly not the case for many plants. There is a conceptual difference between the two systems. While a protection system protects machinery from a catastrophic failure, it does little to protect the plant from lost production due to an inadvertent shutdown, which can also be costly. A condition monitoring strategy can significantly minimize machinery life cycle costs while at the same time optimize plant maintenance and production. In this analysis a protection system can be considered like a required car insurance policy, which is not frequently used and does not require special expertise. A condition monitoring system on the other hand can be thought of as a business tool intended for optimizing plant profitability. It requires more expertise, is considered as an option and it is not automatically installed on machines as protection systems are."

If there are so many benefits in using a condition monitoring solution, why isn’t everyone doing it?

Sybille Schumann: "There are few who dispute the merits of condition monitoring, but there are surprisingly many plants that do not implement such a system.  Many rotating equipment engineers and maintenance managers think it is difficult to find the necessary expertise to select, install, operate and maintain such a system, despite the potential value it could bring. Much of this is due to a lack of understanding of the condition monitoring systems."

Are condition monitoring systems indeed better?

Sybille Schumann: "Condition monitoring systems have evolved significantly over the last 10 years. They now offer more powerful monitoring functions for earlier fault detection and more reliable diagnostics, and they are also more flexible, intelligent and easier to use. This results in reduced machinery life cycle costs and increased production.  Brüel & Kjær Vibro has pioneered much of this technology over the last 20 years. Compass 6000™, our flagship condition monitoring platform, offers comprehensive monitoring and diagnostic capabilities that are both powerful and scalable, so the system can be used by beginners and experienced users alike for many types of applications. It can also grow within the plant as monitoring experience grows. Many services are available to ensure users with any level of experience get maximum benefits of using, maintaining and upgrading the system."

OK, a system is available. Are there other obstacles to implementing a condition monitoring solution?

Sybille Schumann: "For many plants, the biggest obstacle is not the actual selection, operation and maintenance part of implementing a condition monitoring system, but the initial project phase of retrofitting a complete condition monitoring system on top of an existing protection system. Over the years there have been several different approaches for doing this but none of them particularly appealing to potential users."

What is your solution to address the barriers to adopting a plant-wide condition monitoring system?

Sybille Schumann: "Brüel & Kjær Vibro has recently developed a remarkably simple solution to address this need. The VI-6080 is a new interface that takes in measurement data via the buffered outputs of one or more existing protection systems that are API 670 compliant, and links these to the Compass 6000™ condition monitoring platform. No need for extra cabinets or wiring! Compass 6000™ then processes these data automatically for condition monitoring trending and storage, while providing tools for diagnostics, visualization and reporting."

What about machines where there is no protection but condition monitoring is deemed important?

Sybille Schumann: "Non-critical machines that are not equipped with a machine protection system, but are important from a predictive maintenance point of view, can also be integrated into the condition monitoring fleet by installing additional sensors and sending their signals directly to Compass 6000 via the VI-6080. In either case, all the benefits of a comprehensive  plant-wide condition monitoring system are possible by simply connecting the VI-6080 data link interface from the existing protective system buffered outputs or sensors into Compass 6000."

Can your solution be really applied to any existing protection system?

Sybille Schumann: "Yes, if the protection system is API 670 compliant with buffered outputs. Even if the plant has some machines that were delivered with a particular OEM protection system, while others were retrofitted with another make, this presents no challenge to upgrading the installation to condition monitoring with Compass 6000™ using the VI-6080. It is important to point out though, that it may be acceptable for the plant to have several different types of protection systems, but we recommend a single plant-wide condition monitoring system installation. This ensures uniform functionality, such as system configuration, and monitoring and diagnostic functions. This ultimately results in more reliable maintenance decisions being made based on the uniform condition monitoring information."

Read more about our machine protection systems and our condition monitoring solutions.