Improving Pump Continuous Monitoring

Unless you are lucky enough to have a process that flows downhill, you likely have pumps moving liquids through the process. And if these liquids come in large volumes such as hydrocarbon movement and storage facilities, these pumps can be very large and dangerous should failures occur.

Emerson's Wally Baker


In a World Pipelines article, Flow management starts with pumps, Emerson’s Wally Baker describes how to improve reliability and efficiency through the effective use of instrumentation and control.

Pump flow managementPumps are large energy consumers and can be:

…prone to failure if not monitored and maintained correctly, with issues ranging from leaks to downtime.

When the liquid being pumped includes hydrocarbons and other hazardous, flammable, and/or toxic services, API Standard 682: Pumps—Shaft Sealing Systems for Centrifugal and Rotary Pumps governs their operation governs their operation. The 4th edition of this standard, revised in 2014, requires improved monitoring of the pump seal systems.

Large pumps in pipeline applications are typically monitored with many sensors. Wally lists main monitoring points:

  • Pump intake pressure
  • Pump intake level (of vessel feeding pipeline)
  • Pump discharge pressure
  • Pump differential pressure between intake and discharge
  • Pump motor temperature
  • Pump bearing temperature
  • Pump vibration
  • Pump seal system reservoir level
  • Pump seal vapor vent pressure

This revised API STD 682:

…indicates a preference for continuous measurements using level and pressure transmitters versus the prior practice of using simple on-off switches.

For pumps with filters or strainers, differential pressure measurement can replace manual checks to determine when these should be flushed or cleaned out. For pumps with lube oil systems, additional continuous measurements might include pressure and level.

For pumps without many of these monitoring points, wireless sensors can be quickly installed.

No signal wiring is needed because measurement information is transmitted via a wireless mesh network, and no power wiring is needed because each wireless sensor includes its own power module.

Wally lists many benefits of additional monitoring when connected back with the control and asset management systems including reduced maintenance costs, better regulatory compliance, improved safe operations, improved uptime, and overall more efficient operations.

He describes pipeline flow measurement technologies for pipelines including Ultrasonic and Coriolis meters and their use in modulating flow control valves and custody transfer applications. From a flow management standpoint, smart sensors provide capabilities for remote calibration, troubleshooting diagnostics, and process data to maintain flow rates and provide data for process optimization:

…saving energy, reducing maintenance and increasing pump life.

Wally concludes:

Accurate and reliable measurement of various process parameters is required throughout the pumping and pipeline system. These measurements have traditionally been made using wired instruments, but wireless sensors are finding favour for monitoring key parameters, while wired solutions are still preferred for real time control applications.

If you’ll be attending the October 24-28 Emerson Exchange conference in Austin, Wally will be co-presenting an educational course, Pressure Transmitter Fundamentals – How to Specify, Install, Commission, and Maintain. You can also connect and interact with other flow, pressure and level experts in the Flow, Pressure and Level groups in the Emerson Exchange 365 community.

One comment so far

  1. Wireless is a great way to upgrade the monitoring of your mechanical seal the seal flush fluid reservoir to meet the latest edition of the API standard, and for monitoring of the pump and motor as well. The same wireless infrastructure that monitors pumps can also monitor other equipment in the plant such as heat exchangers, cooling towers, air cooled heat exchangers, blowers/fans, as well as any compressors not yet monitored. Additional sensors are required, but since they are digital, they need not connect to the DCS, they can go straight to the historian or asset management system. Learn more from this essay:
    https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/digital-transformation-best-practice-maintenance-jonas-berge

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