Ask a Fluke Expert: Which tool or sensor is best for monitoring the condition of a pump?

Collecting vibration data is a critical measurement for various aspects and can reveal a lot about the health of a machine, ultimately preventing equipment downtime.

Handheld tools and wireless remote sensors can both be used for monitoring the condition of a pump. Handheld tools are mainly used for spot checking or diagnosis as part of a PM program, while wireless sensors would be used as part of a condition monitoring program. They monitor the asset 24/7 and provide alerts when a change in conditions occurs.

Determining the best tool or sensor for monitoring the condition of a pump essentially depends on the type of maintenance strategy each customer has.

Neither is better than the other per se—it really depends on several factors starting with safety, application review and needs, type of asset criticality, and what the data collected will be reviewed by and used for.

Types of tools/sensors used for monitoring pumps

  • The Vibration Sensor (3561 FC Vibration Sensor) is a remote screening tool that provides an alarm on a pump condition change by trending vibration and temperature levels.
  • The Vibration Meter (805 FC vibration meter) is a handheld screening tool that trends vibration and temperature levels to let the user know if the pump is good or bad.
  • The Vibration Tester (810 vibration tester) provides a diagnostic report with the specific machine fault, fault severity and repair action recommendation.  The four most common faults are imbalance, misalignment, looseness, and bearings.

All types of pumps are good applications for vibration tools and sensors including centrifugal, propeller, piston, lobed, sliding vane, screw, etc.

The tools/sensors can be used specifically to help with common pump problems by following simple steps to complete maintenance and repair workflow:

  1. Screen pumps to find out which one has an increase in vibration and/or temperature level.
  2. Diagnose common pump problems and determine repair recommendation.
  3. Correct the root cause problem.
  4. Re-check pumps to ensure good repair and return to service.

Benefits of using tools/sensors

The biggest benefits of using these tools or sensors include: predictability to schedule repairs in advance, safety from repairing or replacing a faulty pump offline, increased revenue from less downtime, and higher reliability from fewer unexpected/catastrophic failures.

If these tools or sensors are not used, the biggest challenges include repeated repair of the same bearings, seals, and couplings.  Vibration monitoring (wireless or handheld) helps you identify the root cause to fix the problem, not the symptom.

By Frederic Baudart, CMRP, lead product application specialist, Fluke

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