Article: Enhancing rotating equipment performance on a budget: strategies and insights

A best practice article for engineers and plant managers operating HV motors and Generators.

By Ron Scollay, Technical Authority at machinemonitor® with over 30 years in the field.

In the business of industrial maintenance, one of the most pressing challenges is how to enhance the performance of rotating equipment without overshooting maintenance budgets. This challenge encompasses the critical importance of – training, maintenance, and equipment alignment – in ensuring the optimal performance of electrical machines.

The Crucial Role of Training and Alignment

Electrical machines, with their concentric components, demand precise alignment.

Anomalies from construction, wear, and tear, or misalignment with driven equipment introduce eccentricities that can compromise efficiency and longevity. Proper training is essential for maintenance teams to appreciate these nuances and to qualify setups during maintenance checks.

Interventions become necessary when eccentricity occurs, emphasising the need for skilled personnel who can navigate these challenges effectively.

Cost-effective Monitoring Tools

Monitoring tools, like increased vibration amplitude and current distortion, serve as early warning systems, signalling the need for maintenance inspections.

The question of their cost-effectiveness is paramount in the maintenance provision. These tools not only help in early detection but also in preventing costly downtimes, making them a valuable part of maintenance strategies.

Tailoring Process Control Strategies

When it comes to meeting specific performance objectives for different types of rotating equipment, several factors must be considered that can offer significant efficiency improvements and operational flexibility.

These include:

  • loading and efficiency at the machine duty point (reflecting total cost of ownership),
  • fatigue induced by stop-start cycles,
  • thermal cycling,
  • torque transients, and
  • the suitability of installing a Variable Speed Drive (VSD) for the application in question

Balancing Production Targets and Equipment Optimisation

The challenge of meeting production targets while optimising equipment performance calls for a strategic approach.

Consideration of an availability, maintainability, reliability ratio — such as the 90:7:3 ratio for power generation — offers important insights into prioritising maintenance tasks. Similar ratios for other industries like chemical plants or mineral processing can provide benchmarks for performance and maintenance planning.

Maximising Maintenance Opportunities

Defined maintenance periods, such as during a ball mill re-line or an engine overhaul, present opportunities for concurrent maintenance on electrical machines.

Assessing whether the maintenance ratios are appropriate and understanding the cost of production in relation to current maintenance tasks are crucial for making informed decisions. For instance, the cost of an unplanned outage in a mineral processing plant could significantly outweigh the costs of preventive maintenance or quick replacement strategies.

In conclusion, enhancing the performance of rotating equipment within budgetary constraints is a multifaceted challenge that requires a strategic approach to training, maintenance, and process control.

By leveraging cost-effective monitoring tools and tailoring strategies to specific equipment and operational goals, organisations can achieve a delicate balance between performance optimisation and budgetary compliance.

Ron Scollay will be discussing this topic on Wednesday 12 June, as part of a panel hosted at the 22nd Machines Conference, at the MCEC in Melbourne as part of Australian Energy Week. 12-13 June 2024.

Joining Ron on the panel will be Iain Mackenzie, Chief Electrical Engineer, Woodside Energy and moderator, Martin Boettcher, Lead Asset Engineer, Ventia Engineering.

To access the detailed conference program, view the agenda or download the brochure here.