In a recent article in COMPRESSORtech2 magazine, the authors discuss some interesting points about why machine-level remote monitoring in the compression market is on the rise.
Initially adoption of remote monitoring solutions was slow and it was all about ensuring that the compression equipment was on. If the compressors were not working, energy companies were not making money.
It eventually evolved to reading machine and error codes so that when compressors stopped working, the maintenance manager had an idea what had gone wrong and could ensure that the technician brought the appropriate parts to make the necessary repairs.
The approach of reading machine codes proved to have many benefits. It reduced the number of trips technicians had to make to get the equipment up and working and allowed companies to plan for preventative maintenance (as opposed to reactive maintenance). It also allowed companies to reduce the amount of inventory in the technicians’ trucks.
The COMPRESSORtech2 article highlights another level of benefits of remote monitoring that I did not know about. First, remote monitoring allows companies to manage their electrical energy usage. As electricity rates go up and the push to reduce CO2 emissions gains momentum, implementing efficiency upgrades that lead to 10 to 15% savings in energy consumption can have a big impact on the bottom line.
The article also discusses some of the benefits of remotely monitoring variables such as motor speed, motor torque and electricity consumption and comparing them to “normal” machine operation to predict process inefficiencies. It can also help to identify mechanical wear that leads equipment to work outside its “best efficiency point”.
Creating the algorithms to determine the “best efficiency point” is probably not easy and likely involves a lot of experimentation but as remote monitoring (and M2M) continues to make headway in the oil and gas sector, these learnings will allow companies to operate their equipment even more efficiently. This will lead to greater energy efficiency as well as better preventative maintenance programs and more importantly, less business interruptions.