Can Automated Detection Help Prevent Cavitation?
If you've read our earlier post on cavitation, you'll know that pump cavitation can cause significant damage - premature valve failure, decreased flow pressure and repetitive stress on other critical parts such as the impeller and internal components that will eventually failure of your pump over time.
Even though pump cavitation can be easily detected by an unmistakable popping or what sounds like rocks rolling through the pump, someone has to be near enough to hear. This means that cavitation can go on for weeks.
The longer cavitation occurs undetected, the greater the damage, and the greater the cost of repair. Automated detection can help prevent cavitation by monitoring vibration levels - allowing early correction by merely adjusting flow or tank level, or by changing piping or pump design.
What is the role of vibration?
When vapour bubbles collapse, they typically make that recognizably
loud, popping sound. However, they also create vibration patterns
that can be analysed. If high frequency energy is increasing
(higher vibration), it's a sign that cavitation is getting worse,
leading to damage of the impeller and seals, as well as increasing
wear on the pump bearings.
Is automated monitoring a solution?
A device that can collect and analyze vibration data continuously offers a viable solution. Often called a smart machinery health device, this automated monitoring system can scan for changes in the pump's vibration, analyze results automatically, and warn maintenance personnel to correct any issues while the condition is occurring. This allows operators to make changes in the process condition during operation to eliminate cavitation, such as opening a valve or adjusting process fluid temperature. Occasionally, process design may have to change, although this will require downtime.
Ultimately, automated diagnostics can help operators extend
the life of a pump and minimize repair costs by giving them
time to make adjustments. When combined with other high-tech
information, such as lubricant analysis and infrared imaging,
automated monitoring provides a holistic picture of the pump's
operating condition and its potential for failure.