This month’s blog is slightly different from the usual ones we post. This month is more of an opinion regarding data dogs. We are seeing more equipment suppliers selling VA equipment that they promote as “anyone can use” and you know need to know or have experience to use. That the software will diagnose for you. Or even, just collect the data upload to the cloud and we will tell you if you have any issues.
I feel there are places for this type of program but one thing I dislike is companies sending “data dogs” to collect the data. These are cheap labour sent to press a button and collect the vibration data as fast as they can. This type of VA often gives this service a bad name as they miss diagnose, miss defects or the person in the office performing the analysis just gives the ‘wall chart analysis’ of its either misalignment, imbalance, looseness or resonance.
So much can be gained by a competent engineer or technician attending the asset to collect the vibration data. Most of your analysis should be performed at the machine, not in the air conditioned office!
We also find that there are many facilities/companies that are on the start of their reliability journey that require a person on site to promote and ensure the job is done and followed though correctly.
The images below back up this point. A great friend of mine, James Pearce, was performing a quarry motor VA survey and while at a motor he sensed an abnormal noise, he tracked it down to the GTU take up conveyor pulley. The GTU is not on the vibration program but when you have an experienced engineer or technician collecting the data walking the plant they also use their other senses to ensure plant reliability.
James reported this to site that had a controlled shut down of the quarry immediately to replace the pulley bearings. Site confirmed that they would have not inspected this pulley and it would have catastrophically failed causing a lot of additional hard work. This controlled shutdown cost 3 hours of production. But this saved replacing the pulley shaft as there was no damage to the shaft. If this was left to totally fail this would have cost 9-11 hours production downtime at 2,000 Tons per hour. There is also the possibility that the pulley could have failed in a way that caused damage to the conveyor belt incurring more down time and a lot more costs.
And here is the video!
You can see the bearing there – this should not be glowing red. This bearing had totally failed!
So remember that 5 years of experience is not the same as 1 years of experience 5 times and you can’t analyse what you don’t know or understand.