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Pumping Profit: The Vital Need for Secure Remote Monitoring
March 29, 2021 | Robert Bergman
Whether it is water, petroleum, LNG or other liquids, pumping is often the primary activity at remote sites, and keeping these pumps operating optimally can contribute to significant cost savings and ROI. While many businesses and utilities had already been moving in this direction pre-COVID, the pandemic has accelerated the move. Here, based on a 2019 Pumps & Systems magazine article, are five ways that remote monitoring can extend the lives of your pumps.
Vibration monitoring. Failing seals, bearings, impellers and other equipment increases vibration. Vibration sensors can detect out-of-limit values and send alarms for immediate response or log sensor data for future analysis.
Pressure monitoring. Every pump has a best efficiency point (BEP) at which head pressure, power and efficiency are in optimal balance. Pressure sensors can signal pressure anomalies that might interfere with immediate performance and contribute to increased wear and the downtime that may ensue.
Monitoring amperage and voltage. In addition to immediately alerting of a power failure, remote electrical instrumentation can monitor motors for overcurrent, undercurrent or other electrical indicators of potential problems.
Pulse-counts, run times and alarms. Modern data acquisition functionality can provide real-time and historical operating data that can help monitor both the pump and station performance. Data on flow rates, run times and other key performance indicators can be accessed in real time in the cloud.
Leveraging public networks. The authors of the Pumps & Systems article estimate also that replacing landlines with cellular-based remote monitoring systems can halve the cost of maintaining a landline at each site. This is because it reduces the need for copper wiring and lowers recurring monthly communications charges. The use of public networks also usually comes with technical support from the cellular company.
Making the most of this information, of course, requires the expert deployment of high-quality sensors in a secure network. Sensor data must be able to move in a secure tunnel from the sensor to the control system and then onto the operators, supervisors and managers who run the plant. Those controls must not only have the bandwidth to enable real-time processing of increasing volumes of real-time data, but they must also have built-in authentication and encryption routines that make it impossible for unauthorized users to interact with the system.
For an example of how one company improved efficiency in its pumping operations by more than 50 percent read: Reducing Water Transfer Costs at Remote Fracking Sites with Open Secure Automation