Steam Boiler at Beverage Manufacturer

Challenge

Sporadic boiler failure causing canning line downtime.

Solution

IoT sensors from Preddio were installed to monitor the pressure and temperature of the boiler. An additional vibration sensor was added downstream on a compressor motor. All sensors were 100% wireless. 

Start to finish time: <10 minutes

Results

Actionable data was collected within 3 hours that revealed rapid pressure drops. Real-time alerts allowed maintenance staff to diagnose the problem while it was occurring which allowed thousands of dollars in production gains realized within the first days of installation.

Link to Public Article 

Failed Flush Sequence

Challenge

A waste management plant, operating heavy-duty pumps to process industrial slurries, had repeated mechanical seal failures on several pieces of equipment. Despite replacing the seals with more robust and expensive versions, the problems continued. 

Solution

Pressure sensors were installed to monitor suction, discharge, and stuffing box pressure of the impacted pumps. After a week of monitoring, it was discovered that the clean flush water supply was non-existent for extended periods during the evening shift. The seals had been running dry, allowing debris to accumulate, causing permanent damage.

Results

Leveraging the data collected from the pressure sensors, the customer was able to pinpoint the source of the problem and ensure that it did not recur. Operating procedures and equipment setpoints were adjusted to ensure that adequate flush water was provided to the pumps overnight. After making the changes, the problems were eliminated, and the customer was able to continue using the existing styles of mechanical seals, saving wasted capital and labor costs. 

Ivy League Research Labs Chiller Plant

Challenge

Significant sporadic vibration was suspected to be impacting the operation of a large split-case pump. Routine vibration inspections were unable to capture the events which were occurring at random. Exploratory maintenance efforts were not feasible due to the critical nature of the equipment which supplies chilled water to numerous laboratories on campus.

Solution

Sensors were installed to continuously monitor vibration levels of dozens of pieces of equipment that were thought to be impacting the pump. Those that were operating normally were ignored, and the sensors were moved to different pieces of equipment. It was found that several control valves were malfunctioning, impacting downstream equipment. The valves were replaced, and the intermittent vibration on the critical pump was reduced to acceptable ISO standard levels. 

Results

Extensive vibration of critical equipment was eliminated and without the need to pause operations. The upstream offending valves were identified and replaced, saving the need to shut down operations for maintenance or replacement of a critical pump and resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars of avoided cost.  

Kaizen Goal Reached Using Data

Challenge

A papermill running several white liquor centrifugal pumps, sealed with traditional packing, set a kaizen goal to improve the mean time between failure (MTBF). However, their current control system did not have access to the operating parameters needed to specify an improved mechanical seal solution. 

Solution

Rather than invest in extensive control system modifications that would require a capital budget and corporate approval, the customer installed IoT pressure and temperature sensors on the suction, discharge, and stuffing box locations of the pumps. Using the data collected by the sensors outside of the hardwired control system, the mechanical seal manufacturer was able to specify improved seals to meet the Kaizen objective. 

Results

By monitoring the existing process conditions of the pumps using rapidly deployed IoT sensors, the customer was able to upgrade the pump sealing solution without investment in their hardwired control system. Results were achieved within a week, saving valuable time and resources, while maximizing the productivity of the paper mill. 

Manufacturer’s Hidden Wastewater Problems

Challenge

A pump manufacturer installed several large and expensive split seals on a vertical wastewater pump. After several hours, one of the seals failed, and it was re-installed. Over the next month it was repaired and replaced several times, requiring numerous service calls on site and dozens of troubleshooting conference calls with the seal manufacturer. The customer, the pump manufacturer, and the seal provider all had different opinions about the cause of the failures and could not agree on a solution. The pump and seal manufacturers were also at risk of losing the customer’s business.

Solution

Despite the customer’s insistence that flush pressure was not the problem, sensors were installed to monitor several locations of the piping, including the flush port of the mechanical seal. While the manual pressure gauges on the support pump showed adequate flush pressure, it turned out that pressure was significantly restricted at the seal so that at times it pulled vacuum. Several clogged strainers were found between the support pump and the main pump, and an overall deficiency of the support pump was concluded 

Results

Not only was the problem solved for the impacted pump, but the new pumps awaiting to be commissioned using the same flush lines were spared from impending failure. While the customer and the pump manufacturer had already expended more than $100K in service and component costs, they were able to resolve the issue that would have resulted in substantially higher costs had the problem continued, not to mention the pump and seal manufacturers were able to solve the customer’s problem and keep the business by tracking down the root cause failure.  

Municipal Water Remote Station

Challenge

Despite a lack of known problems, a forward-looking customer proactively installed IoT sensors on their pumps to monitor a remote unmanned lift station. 

Solution

Three “supposedly” identical pumps were monitored in parallel. After a few weeks collecting data, a significant increase in pressure and bearing vibration was found on one of the pumps. After an ad-hoc inspection, it was discovered that an upstream control valve was restricting flow and causing increased pressure. 

Results

As soon as the valve was repaired, the pump began operating as expected. Given that preventative maintenance was only scheduled for every two years, a potentially catastrophic event was avoided saving thousands of dollars for the repair and the potential downtime for residents that depend on the system.  

Municipal Water Monitoring and Optimization

Challenge

A large public water utility had deployed hundreds of remotely located centrifugal pumps, tasked with providing potable water to several municipalities. Each lift station had at least six double-ended multistage pumps. Given the remote distributed nature of the utility, management sought a cost effective, highly capable solution that would provide remote monitoring of key assets while still being extremely easy to install and maintain.

Solution

Vibration, temperature, and pressure sensors were piloted on all the pumps at several of the remote locations. Cellular gateways were installed so that the utility could monitor performance in real-time, and receive automated alerts when anomalies occurred. 

Results

After several weeks of collecting data, the utility was able to confirm their expectations that the pumps were operating correctly. However, what they did not expect to find was that they were able to adjust their operations schedule to decrease energy consumption while still meeting the demands of the municipalities. By deploying remote IoT sensors the utility was able to reduce operating expenses, while ensuring high quality, secure services that their customers expected. 

Remote Oil Field Booster Pump Failures

Challenge

Located in a remote oil field, seals on a critical booster pump were failing. Because of the location, maintenance engineers were unaware of the failures until weeks after they occurred. When the pump was inspected it appeared that a sealing solution was failing within days of installation.  

Solution

Preddio IoT sensors were installed on the pump to monitor performance around the clock. By analyzing the data, it was determined that the system was clogging and that an alternative filter basket was needed to avoid clogging and to protect the integrity of the seal. An upgraded cyclone style filter was installed, and the issues were resolved.

Results

By remotely monitoring the pumps’ high-risk failure modes, operations and maintenance engineers were able to identify the root cause and eliminate repeated failures caused by the original filter system. The IoT sensor platform from Preddio also eliminated the substantial cost that would otherwise have been needed to modify the existing monitoring system.

Slurry Suspension Transitions to Solid

Challenge

A pump designed to move a highly concentrated slurry in a Pulp and Paper Mill was experiencing significant vibration events. The plant was forced to shut down the pump several times attempting to find the source of the vibration.

Solution

Battery powered vibration sensors were temporarily installed on the pump. Because the sensors use a powerful magnet to attach to the equipment it was fast and easy to move their position to isolate the root cause problem. In this case decantation of the slurry had caused solid pulp to separate and accumulate in the volute of the pump. 

Results

Following corrective action, the intermittent vibration disappeared. The customer was so happy with the results that they left the sensors in place and added a cellular gateway to monitor and prevent similar events in the future. 

Sporadic Dry Running Identified and Fixed

Challenge

A municipality running several large vertical centrifugal pumps was experiencing reliability issues. It was hypothesized that dry running was occurring, but without time trended data, they were unable to pinpoint the problem when it occurred. 

Solution

IoT Pressure and temperature sensors were installed to continuously monitor the operating conditions of the pump. After one week of collecting data, it became clear that the mechanical seals were operating under vacuum. Because the seals were not designed to handle negative pressure, the customer installed vacuum spacers to allow the mechanical seals to operate within specification.  

Results

By using rapidly deployed IoT sensors to identify the root cause problem, the customer was able to install low-cost spacers, saving thousands of dollars in equipment replacement costs. Moreover, they gained peace of mind by remotely monitoring the condition of the equipment without having to invest in costly and difficult to install remote monitoring systems. 

Upstream Problem in a Harsh Environment

Challenge

A chemical plant was experiencing an unusually high seal failure rate on a 65% Nitric Acid transfer pump. Mean time between failure (MTBF) was limited to only one month. Failure analysis revealed classic signs of dry running, but the end user insisted that this was not the cause. A new seal was installed under the supervision of the seal manufacturer, the environmental control plan was inspected, and operation data from the control system was reviewed. All was found to be satisfactory, and all agreed that there was no obvious indication of installation or operation issues. 

Solution

IoT pressure and temperature sensors designed to withstand harsh acidic environments were installed on the seal chamber to augment the existing control system which did not provide coverage. After only a few days, data showed that the seal chamber was experiencing negative pressure while the pump was in operation. Due to the negative pressure, the mechanical seals were found to be experiencing symptoms that were identical to, but not caused by dry running. After further inspection it was found that an upstream valve was restricting flow to the pump. After adjustment, the seal chamber pressure levels were brought back to specification. 

Results

After performing the corrective maintenance, the MTBF of the mechanical seal was estimated to have increased from 1 month to 24 months, resulting in a per incident equipment cost of $30K, totaling ~$700K in total savings (not including the cost of labor). By quickly installing rugged sensors in a harsh environment on an expensive asset, the customer was able to pinpoint the problem without having to modify the existing control system.