Remote Pump Monitoring

Given the costs associated with wired plant instrumentation and wiring infrastructure, most plants have just enough sensors and final control elements to perform basic control and safety system functions. While enough for control and process safety, it is often not enough for reliability, energy efficiency, and uptime.

Emerson's Tom Bass


The Industrial Internet of Things, and more specifically, wireless sensors, open the opportunity to improve these business performance factors more economically than was previously possible.

In an Automation.com article, Remote Monitoring of Pumps with WirelessHART Transmitters, Emerson’s Tom Bass describes how additional wireless measurements on pumps can improve reliability and overall efficiency.

Automation.com: Remote Monitoring of Pumps with WirelessHART TransmittersHe opens highlighting the consequences of a pump failure, that it:

…can cause catastrophic failures that can lead to expensive repairs, fires and plant downtime. A pump or seal failure can start a fire or shut down a complete process, requiring expensive unplanned emergency maintenance.

While many plants both instrument and continuously monitor their most critical pumps:

…nearly 90% of pumps in a typical facility to rely on manual rounds, unnecessary maintenance or running to failure.

Measurements such as flow, pressure, level, temperature and vibration can help identify problems early. For adding wireless measurements, a:

WirelessHART infrastructure consists of wireless transmitters, a wireless mesh network, and a gateway. The gateway receives data from the transmitters and transfers it to a control or monitoring system via Ethernet, Modbus or other hardwired methods.

Tom shares typical costs.

…a complete remote wireless pump monitoring system in a typical plant is about $10,000, including process transmitters, a gateway, and software…to analyze pump health. Once the first system is installed, additional pumps can be added for about $2,000 to $5,000 each.

From a user interface perspective:

Pump analytics software is now available as an inexpensive “app” that runs on a PC, tablet or smartphone, completely separate from the plant’s control or monitoring system. The app takes data from the gateway, runs analytics to verify overall pump health, and provides results on the screen.

These monitoring systems can do more than watching for conditions impacting reliability, but also for operating pump efficiently

Pump efficiencies depend on design, and the highest efficiency a pump can reach is called the Best Efficiency Point (BEP). Maintaining flow rates near this point not only minimizes energy costs, but also reduces pump load and maintenance requirements. For example, pumps suffering repeated failures, and pumps for which there are no spares, can often benefit from remote monitoring.

Read the article for specific conditions that can be monitored including bearing and seal wear, cavitation and deadheads. Tom also shares a case study where an Argentinian refinery invested $550,000 in pump monitoring equipment and documented annual savings of over $1.2 million (USD).

You can also connect and interact with other reliability and wireless experts in the Reliability & Maintenance and Wireless groups in the Emerson Exchange 365 community.

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