Driving Cost Effectiveness and Performance with Controls and Condition Monitoring

Energy organizations are challenged to increase efficiency and reduce costs, despite having to maintain a growing fleet of aging assets. Upgrading motor-driven compressors and consolidating the implementation of unit control and condition monitoring systems are a few ways to help organizations boost performance and realize cost reduction improvements.

When facing a motor-driven compressor control application, end users can benefit from the combined input from experts in roles that include plant management, engineering, maintenance, operations, instrumentation and controls. There are multiple considerations to make when defining a motor-driven compressor control application.

  1. First, an end user can define the base scope solution for a motor-driven compressor control that includes the hardware, software, engineering, panel assembly and factory acceptance tests necessary to install a system in the field. The defined control system needs to be capable of addressing the related process, anti-surge control, motor sequencing, lube and seal oil control. Additionally, operation information needs to be displayed in a cyber-secured human-machine interface (HMI).
  2. Secondly, in certain cases, the distributed control system (DCS) may be considered to provide aspects of compressor or auxiliary control. That approach may limit the opportunity to benefit from compressor-specific capabilities developed by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). These capabilities can incorporate decades of acquired knowledge while servicing units in operation that can be combined in software algorithms aiming to reduce alarms, trips and ultimately unplanned shut downs.
  3. Thirdly, specific sites can include both motor-driven compressors and integrated turbine and compressor control (ITCC) systems. Leveraging an OEM-provided control system can benefit end users with flexible, scalable and adaptable control systems applicable to both turbine and motor-driven control configurations.

Compressor application sets can include a gas turbine, steam turbine, turbo-expander or electric motor driving centrifugal or axial units. Condition monitoring of rotating equipment is paramount in order to protect these assets. Traditional approaches may create unnecessary isolated configurations for drive control, compressor control and condition monitoring relaying on separate systems, cabinets and vendors.

Advantages of consolidating cabinet build with both compressor control unit and condition monitoring racks include:

  • Common redundant power supplies: if a single cabinet is able to accommodate both the condition monitoring racks and the unit control modules, the power supplies needed may be simplified in a redundant fashion
  • Fewer un-interrupted power supply systems (UPS): Once the condition monitoring rack and the unit control are co-located into one cabinet, a redundant UPS can be specified for both systems
  • Optimized control cabinet footprint: In situations where real estate is limited, such as an offshore application, the use of a combined cabinet for both condition monitoring equipment and unit control can benefit form, fit and function requirements
  • User experience optimized human machine interfaces (HMI) that can display both compressor performance and vibration monitoring information simultaneously: with operators facing a significant amount of information, the ability to tap on latest user interface ergonomic approaches that reduce and consolidate information displayed on an HMI can be beneficial to the operation.
  • The opportunity to collocate network switches: secured network switches for communications amongst I/O modules and control processors can potentially be co-located with the ones needed for remote connectivity and condition monitoring. 
  • The advantage to leverage one location for factory acceptance testing (FAT): Having panel assembly facilities located in the particular geography or country where the project is being implemented can add significant benefits in terms of streamlining project execution. Additionally, certain regions or countries may have local content requirements that can be met by selecting integrated vendors that offer both unit control and condition monitoring with in-country facilities footprint

A consolidated approach to compressor control and condition monitoring early on during engineering design stages and later during the Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) and project commissioning and implementation can add significant economic and performance advantages to engineering, procurement, construction companies and ultimately to asset owners and end users.


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