Good vibrations: Motion sensors yield six-digit savings
Executives at equipment manufacturer Flowserve describe the 200-year-old company as a “big iron” manufacturer. Flowserve makes pumps, valves, and seals for the oil and gas, power, and chemical industries. Many of its products are made to move, so adding sensors to measure vibration was a logical choice. The company says its customers are asking for services that can extend the value of the equipment they buy from Flowserve.
One customer saved an estimated $650,000 using vibration sensors and data analytics software. Equipment vibration levels dropped during maintenance, as expected, but when the equipment came back online, the vibration levels moved in the wrong direction. “We called up the customer and said, ‘hey, we think something is going on here.
Can you take a look at this piece of equipment?'” remembers Flowserve senior manager Josh Lyon. Investigation showed that a foreign object had been dropped into the equipment and was stuck in a suction strainer.
“The customer said that if they had let this go, it would have resulted in a potential catastrophic failure [and] 10-14 days of downtime – a significant impact in terms of process, [costing] around $650,000,” said Lyon.
The sensors Flowserve supplies are complemented with a software platform called the PI System, made by OSIsoft. The OSIsoft platform recently received a big vote of confidence from Japan’s SoftBank, which bought out the California company’s venture capitalists. The platform operates both at the network edge and in the cloud, and is meant to analyze real-time data to create recommendations for action.
“Technology is an enabler,” said Lyon. “It has allowed us to be more responsive, more adaptive, more intelligent. We continue do it because it is a win-win for both Flowserve and our customers.”