Airborne/Structure Borne Ultrasound has a lot of versatility. I find that most sites are only using it for one or two things. Not only can you use it for as many applications as possible, but the return is also huge whether you are looking on saving on downtime, worried about waste, or just plain interested in what is the problem. It does more than just leaks and bearings! I hate hearing “We are going to buy the best you have, and we are only going to use it for one thing.” Share the wealth people! Use ultrasound as much as you can. Show others. You will like it. I promise. Here is quick list of where you can use Ultrasound in your facility:
Good Grief, again! Yes, I will mention it again. Everyone knows ultrasound will find leaks, but do you really understand how many leaks you have and what the cost really is? And remember, we are typically burning something to produce the extravagant amount of power that compressors waste. Did you know that a typical reciprocating compressor is only about 20% efficient!?! And that is if everything is running correctly. Think of $1.00 spent on a kilowatt of electricity. If you are using reciprocating compressors, you are literally throwing away about $0.80 of that dollar. More modern compressors run at 50-60 % efficiency if everything is correct. Use 50%. That’s $0.50 per kilowatt for every $1.00 dollar spent out the door. That is a lot of money. Now, add your leaks to that. Thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars are typically wasted each year at every type of facility because leaks exist. This is not common-sense folks! Ultrasound can help with that. This is a no-brainer and typically easy repairs! Get on it and save some money people! (And who knows, maybe save some earth while you’re at it)
Wow, did you know that Infrared Thermography does not detect all electrical problems and typically doesn’t always detect it early? What if you could find a problem in the Corona stage and correct it before it becomes a horrible incident? Ultrasound detects corona. Did you know that you should be scanning electrical enclosures with ultrasound before you open any enclosure, even a 480v MCC? It lessens the risk of Arc Flash. Again, why not? No brainer. I want to go home.
Ultrasound can move through the smallest gaps and openings of these enclosures. Corona, Tracking, Arcing, Partial Discharge, and even loose parts can all be detected using ultrasound. From millivolts to kilovolts there is no barrier for ultrasound to detect these problems. From electrical cabinets to the highest transmission lines and substations, ultrasound is your friend. These are typically fast scans and easily done, the risk is less, as you do not have to open enclosures and you can scan from fence lines. One of my favorite things to analyze! It all makes sense, and we can teach you to do it. One thing I will say here; I do believe Ultrasound and Infrared should always be used together in Electrical Inspections.
Talk about out of sight, out of mind. You really don’t know how critical a valve is until it has stopped working! What if you could put valves into a routine inspection, using a preset method, and know when the valve is just in the beginning stage of failure? Guess what, you can! Ultrasound is one of the best ways to check valves. Using a simple method, you can know if the valve is flowing, leaking, throttled, completely shut, or blocked. Even modulating valves is no challenge for Ultrasound, as easily seen opening and closing through Time Wave Form analysis. I don’t see enough people checking valves ahead of time, but I do hear from a lot of people once they have had trouble with valves not operating properly and ruining a production run or worst, someone getting hurt. You may already have the power to check these if you have ultrasound. Let us show you how. Again, it only makes sense to get ahead of these things.
Oh boy, this is way easy! (And I hope becomes even easier, hint, hint). Did you know, if you have steam, it is arguably your second most expensive utility in your plant? Again, we are burning something to get that water to steam. Trying to keep it hot and at pressure can be a challenge in some of these large systems. Steam Traps are basically automated valves that remove condensation from the system, keeping the steam hot. Condensation leads to a loss of heat, corrosion, and water-hammer. None of these things are good!
So why has it been 5 years since you checked your steam traps for proper operation? Again, if you have ultrasound, you can check these. Know what the cycle should be and go listen at the discharge. Is it opening and closing? Easy, yeah? Granted there are some traps that are continuous flow but can still be diagnosed with ultrasound by ear, and/or easy analysis, that anyone can understand. (Ultrasound is not a good choice for an orifice trap). The biggest challenge here is not the how, but knowing your steam systems and how often these traps should cycle. Nearly every type of steam trap can be tested with ultrasound and usually with ease. A lot of money flowing through those steam pipes, let’s keep it in there! Don’t waste the Steam! Check the traps regularly with Ultrasound.
From simple to full-blown analysis. Your decision. You can listen to a bearing at an ultrasonic level and decide, just by the sound, what state that bearing is in. Good/OK, Pre-Failure/Microscopic Damage, Failed, Catastrophically Failed. If you have worked around mechanical equipment, you know what these things should sound like. Not hard. You could build a route, set a baseline, trend it by software, and know precisely which stage of life it is in. It’s a decibel level, a number. Anyone can do this. Testing a bearing by decibel level should take approximately 10-15 seconds per test point. So why are so many people still not checking bearings who have digital ultrasonic equipment with the provided software? No common sense maybe, I don’t have that answer.
Ultrasound can also be used to perform Fault Frequency Analysis through Fast Fourier Transform and Time-Wave Form using the provided software for the Ultrasonic Units that record sound. Some built-in features allow for the analysis of basic information such as speed and number of rolling elements. Were you aware, everything learned through Vibration Analysis can be applied with the same equations to find faults, but even earlier, with ultrasound (since the ultrasonic signal has been heterodyned (translated) to a lower frequency, it is literally the same)? Not only does this apply to bearings, but gear mesh frequencies and pump vane frequencies as well. A world of information lies at your ears with ultrasound. Come on son!
Looking for Red Light/Green Light when lubricating bearings? Ultrasound has had it for years. In all the classes I taught over the years, I used the same analogy every time. “When you have a squeaky hinge on a door, and you spray that water displacement stuff on it, when do you stop spraying?” When it stops squeaking, right? Not when it hits the floor. If everyone knows that over-lubrication is the main cause of failures of bearings, then why do I see so much grease oozing out of all the bearings or pyramids of grease underneath them? This is an endless cycle of “What the Heck is going on here?” Insanity, right?
Not only can ultrasound tell you when to lubricate a bearing (between 8-12 decibel rise above the baseline), it can tell you when to stop (when it returns to baseline). I make it sound simple, but it really is that simple. You can see the decibel level fall on the screens of the instruments as you hear the sound get quieter. It is so simple! Why is everyone not using it? Again, I have no answer. Maybe it is insanity, but we can definitely help you with lubrication, and believe it or not, UE Systems now has a totally automated system of trending the bearing, and lubricating just the right amount at the right time with their own auto-lubricators attached to the automated devices with your lubrication pre-packed and ready to go. What? Yes, it’s out there and only getting better! Stop the insanity, Stop the over-lubrication! Use ultrasound.
My final thoughts on this are: Many companies have ultrasound ready to use and are not properly using it or not using it to its full potential. Contact us, and let us train you properly. Some companies still do not use ultrasound, though it has been a major player in Predictive Maintenance and in the Reliability realm for years now. Stop wondering and start using it. Call us, call me, I will sell you some ultrasound and change your life! And then, we will teach you how to do it right! Or call us if you just want to talk about ultrasound. Every one of us at UE Systems can talk about Ultrasound for hours. It’s what we do.