Predictive Maintenance at the Edge Keeps Devices Running
Gas compressors are a critical component in a multitude of industrial environments. Compressors pressurize and push gas into pipelines, portable tanks, and ships that transport liquefied natural gas (LNG) around the globe for energy production.
“Compressors are quite expensive devices. They cost millions and millions, and are usually at the heart of the production process,” says Alexander Bergner, Director of Product Management at TTTech Industrial, a company that specializes in real-time data collection in industrial workflows. “In LNG ships, when they do not compress, they actually have to burn the gas in order not to have too much pressure in the tanks. In a chemical industry, if they don’t have a compressor running, then systems get clogged and you have to take them all apart to clean and recommission them.”
So keeping gas compressors running at their best is just as critical as the essential functions they perform. That’s why predictive maintenance, which uses data collection and analytics to track the condition of compressor components, is increasingly common in production processes that rely on compression.
Not All Predictive Maintenance Solutions Are Built the Same
Predictive maintenance not only helps prevent wear and tear of compressers to extend equipment life, but more importantly, it allows operators to better plan when to replace parts—especially in situations where gas compressors are out at sea for long periods of time and parts can’t be easily replaced.
For instance, with LNG ships, the logistics of predictive maintenance can get complex. As ships sail from one port to another, it’s critical that components do not fail midway through. Predictive maintenance enables operators to dispatch technicians and parts to the next port where maintenance needs to occur, so everything is ready when the ship puts in. Conversely, predictive maintenance prevents replacing parts too early, which can drive up costs.
“Ship compressors are especially sensitive to well-planned maintenance,” Bergner says. “The spare parts need to be there at the right time and they need to be the right spare parts.”
To do this, the predictive maintenance needs to be built with performance and real-time monitoring in mind, which is easier said than done.
Predictive Maintenance not only helps prevent wear and tear of compressors to extend equipment life, but more importantly, it allows operators to better plan when to replace parts.