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Engineering Encyclopedia

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EVALUATING INSTALLATION OF VIBRATION


MONITORING EQUIPMENT FOR COMPRESSORS

Note: The source of the technical material in this volume is the Professional
Engineering Development Program (PEDP) of Engineering Services.
Warning: The material contained in this document was developed for Saudi
Aramco and is intended for the exclusive use of Saudi Aramcos employees.
Any material contained in this document which is not already in the public
domain may not be copied, reproduced, sold, given, or disclosed to third
parties, or otherwise used in whole, or in part, without the written permission
of the Vice President, Engineering Services, Saudi Aramco.

Chapter : Mechanical
File Reference: MEX-212.06

For additional information on this subject, contact


PEDD Coordinator on 874-6556

Engineering Encyclopedia

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Evaluating Installation of Vibration
Monitoring Equipment for Compressors

Section

Page

INFORMATION ............................................................................................................... 3
INTRODUCTION............................................................................................................. 3
VIBRATION MONITORING EQUIPMENT ...................................................................... 5
Vibration Monitoring.............................................................................................. 5
Basic Vibration........................................................................................... 5
Transducers for Vibration Variables......................................................... 11
Seismic Probes........................................................................................ 24
Requirements for Positive-Displacement Compressors........................... 28
Temperature Monitoring ..................................................................................... 28
Temperature-Monitoring Probes .............................................................. 28
MAJOR CONCERNS OF CONDITION MONITORING, MALFUNCTION
DIAGNOSIS, AND PREDICTIVE MAINTENANCE ....................................................... 36
Dynamic Compressors ....................................................................................... 40
Vibration................................................................................................... 40
Axial Position ........................................................................................... 41
Bearing Temperatures ............................................................................. 43
Seal Fluid Flow ........................................................................................ 44
Seal Fluid Leakage .................................................................................. 45
Balance Line Differential .......................................................................... 45
Performance ............................................................................................ 45
Oil Analysis .............................................................................................. 47
Positive-Displacement Compressors.................................................................. 48
Vibration................................................................................................... 48
Rod Drop ................................................................................................. 49
Packing .................................................................................................... 50
Bearing Temperatures ............................................................................. 50
Cooling Jacket Temperature.................................................................... 50
Performance ............................................................................................ 51
GLOSSARY .................................................................................................................. 53

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LIST OF FIGURES
Figure 1. Basic Relationship of Measured Parameters with a Simple
Harmonic Motion ............................................................................................. 8
Figure 2. Formation of a Complex Harmonic Signal....................................................... 9
Figure 3. Views from the Time and Frequency Domain ............................................... 10
Figure 4. Range and Limitations on Machinery Vibration Analysis Systems and
Transducers .................................................................................................. 13
Figure 5. Eddy Current Proximity Probe....................................................................... 16
Figure 6. Noncontact Eddy Current Probe Orientation ................................................. 20
Figure 7. API 670 Axial-Position Probe Installation for a Shaft with an I
ntegral Thrust Collar...................................................................................... 22
Figure 8. API 670 Standard Axial-Position Probe Installation Arrangement ................. 23
Figure 9. Velocity Transducer ...................................................................................... 25
Figure 10. Piezoelectric Accelerometer........................................................................ 26
Figure 11 Oil Drain Line Thermocouple Installation ..................................................... 35
Figure 12. Axial Position Limits .................................................................................... 43
Figure 13. Performance Degradation ........................................................................... 46

LIST OF TABLES

Table1. Advantages, Disadvantages, and Useful Ranges of Transducer Types.......... 12


Table 2. Potential Causes of Defects ........................................................................... 39

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INFORMATION
INTRODUCTION
A vibration, axial position and bearing temperature monitoring
system consist of the following equipment:

Probes

Accelerometers

Temperature Sensors

Signal Conditioning Devices

Interconnecting Cables

Power Supplies

Monitors

Communication Devices

As defined by Saudi Aramco Engineering Standard SAES-J604, Vibration, Axial Position and Bearing Temperature
Monitoring System will be referred to as the Vibration
Monitoring System.
Vibration and axial position information is acquired by
transducers and proximity probes positioned at optimal locations
on a compressor. Transducers convert mechanical responses
to electric signals that are conditioned and processed by
electronic instruments.
Bearing and compressor temperature information is acquired by
temperature detectors that are positioned at the compressor
bearings and/or gas flow paths.
The vibration monitoring system provides the information
necessary to monitor compressor condition, to verify performance, and to diagnose faults. Vibration monitoring systems
provide the electrical signals to the Rotating Machinery
Protection System (RMPS) and the condition monitoring
system. The RMPS automatically sends shutdown commands
to the rotating equipment train if compressor vibration, axial
position, or monitored temperature exceeds a specified limit.
The condition monitoring system is a computer-based data
collection system that communicates directly to the vibration
monitoring system. The condition monitoring system will also
accept process data from communication links to the Distributed
Control System (DCS) or directly from process instruments. The
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Monitoring Equipment for Compressors

condition monitoring system collects, stores, processes, and


displays and prints the compressor operating data in a variety of
formats.
The condition monitoring system data will typically be used for
historical trending, machinery diagnostics and predictive
maintenance purposes but not for shutdown protection.
This module describes both the types of vibration monitoring
system equipment for dynamic and positive displacement
compressors and the installation arrangements used at Saudi
Aramco installations.

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VIBRATION MONITORING EQUIPMENT


This section of the module describes the following processes
and the equipment that are used for condition monitoring:
Vibration Monitoring
Temperature Monitoring

Vibration Monitoring
Vibration monitoring is a monitoring method and process.
Vibration monitoring measures the condition of the machine
from the initial vibration signature after installation and then at
periodic intervals throughout the machines life. This monitoring
method and process enables an accurate accrual or trend of
information by which equipment may be diagnosed before any
problems occur.
Because vibration is the most sensitive and accurate of the
indicators that are used for monitoring machinery condition,
vibration sensors are typically used to prevent unscheduled
downtime and/or equipment failure. Saudi Aramco requires
automatic vibration shutdown at pre-set vibration levels on all
critical equipment. Vibration sensors and monitoring equipment
can identify a machinery defect earlier than other types of
sensors can, and they can also be used to pinpoint the specific
source or machinery component that is defective; therefore,
vibration analysis is frequently used in predictive-maintenance
programs to provide the basic guidance for performance of
maintenance and overhauls.
Basic Vibration
Vibration is the back-and-forth motion across a point of
equilibrium. Rotating equipment vibration is usually periodic,
i.e., it is related in some manner to the action of the rotating
element. At times, there are non-periodic vibrations in rotating
equipment, but such vibrations are normally from external
sources. The vibration motion is described by the variables of
frequency, displacement, velocity, and acceleration.
The terms and expressions that are used in this discussion of
vibration monitoring are presented in the text that follows.
Vibration is defined as the oscillation of an object about its
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position of rest. When the mass of an object is set in motion, it


will move back and forth between some upper and lower limits.
This movement of the mass through all of its positions and back
to the point where it is ready to repeat the motion is defined as
one cycle of vibration. The time it takes to complete this cycle is
the period of vibration.
Frequency is the number of cycles in a given period. Frequency
is stated in cycles per minute (cpm) or cycles per second (cps)
and is also referred to as hertz (Hz); however, frequency more
frequently is expressed in multiples of rotative speed of the
machine because of the tendency of machine vibration
frequencies to occur at direct multiples or sub-multiples of the
rotative speed of the machine. Frequency of vibration is
expressed in terms such as one times rpm, two times rpm, or
48% of rpm, rather than expressing all vibrations in cycles-perminute or hertz. Frequency is one of the basic characteristics
that is used to measure and describe vibration. The force that
causes the vibration is the first event that occurs in time. The
responses to these forces are the other basic characteristics or
movements, such as displacement, velocity, and acceleration.
The magnitude of each of these characteristics describes the
severity of vibration.
The magnitude of severity is described by the amplitude of the
movement. Amplitude of vibration on most machinery with
hydrodynamic bearings is expressed in peak-to-peak mils.
Vibration probes that are mounted near bearings or on
compressor casings can sense the maximum excursion
(amplitude) of the shaft or the high frequency casing vibrations.
A normal operating machine will generally have a stable
amplitude reading of an acceptable low level that is less than
1.0 mil (25 microns). Any change in this amplitude reading
indicates a change of the machine condition. Increases or
decreases in amplitude should be considered justification for
further investigation of the particular machine condition.
Phase, or phase angle, is another characteristic of vibration that
is important to diagnose and correct machinery problems.
Phase angle is used to compare the motion of a vibrating part to
a fixed reference or to compare two parts of a machine structure
that vibrate at the same frequency. Phase angle can be defined
as the angular difference at a given instant between two parts
with respect to a complete vibration cycle. Phase angle is
usually expressed in degrees. The phase angle measurement
is a means of describing the location of the rotor at a particular
instant in time. Phase angle is also valuable in determining the
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rpm location of the natural rotor balance resonance or critical


speeds. Furthermore, a good phase angle measuring system
will define the location of a high spot on the rotor at each
transducer location relative to some fixed point on the machine
train. Through determination of these high spot locations on the
rotor, the amount and the locations of the residual unbalances
on a rotor can be determined. Changes in the balance condition
of a rotor will be shown as changes in phase angle. Accurate
phase angle measurements are important in the balancing of
rotors, and they can be extremely important in the analysis of a
particular machine malfunction. Determination of phase angle
requires use of portable analysis or of the computer-based
condition monitoring systems.
In measurements of radial vibration, amplitude of displacement
is labeled peak-to-peak displacement and is measured in units
of mils peak to peak.
Velocity indicates the speed at which the object is vibrating and
is highest where the object passes through its position of rest
and zero at the upper and lower maximum displacement limits
of a harmonic vibration. The maximum velocity value is usually
recorded when measurements are taken. Velocity is measured
in units of inches per second peak. Velocity is usually the best
parameter for machinery-vibration analysis, particularly where
important frequencies lie in the 600 to 60,000 cpm range.
Velocity is always used to monitor anti-friction (ball and roller)
bearing systems. Velocity is also the best method for detecting
a wide variety of different machinery defects that occur at low,
mid, and high frequencies. Displacement primarily senses lowfrequency problems, and acceleration primarily senses highfrequency defects.
The acceleration of the object is related to the forces that cause
the vibration. Acceleration reaches a maximum value as the
object reaches its maximum limits of displacement or when it
begins to move in the opposite direction. The maximum or
peak acceleration that is measured is usually the recorded
value. Acceleration is measured in units of g peak (1 g = 386
in/sec2). Acceleration monitors are typically used to monitor
anti-friction (ball and roller) bearing systems; however, because
of their large range, other sources of vibration.

Simple harmonic motion provides an illustration of the


relationship between displacement, velocity, and acceleration.
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In simple harmonic motion, vibration occurs at a single


frequency, with acceleration being proportional to displacement
and occurring in a direction opposite to displacement. Simple
harmonic motion can be represented by a sine wave and can be
illustrated as the linear vertical motion of a weight that is
suspended or supported on a coiled spring. The displacement
of the weight below and above its point of rest and the return to
the point of rest, as a function of time, is the frequency variable.
The change in the amount of displacement as a function of time
is the velocity variable. During a single cycle, this velocity
constantly changes from a value of zero at the peak
displacement above and below the rest or equilibrium point to a
maximum velocity value as the weight passes through the
equilibrium point at zero displacement. The rate of change in the
velocity is the acceleration variable. The acceleration variable is
a negative value as the velocity slows down and the
displacement approaches maximum.
The phase relationships between the variables for vibration
measurement (displacement, velocity, and acceleration) are
shown on a simple sine wave in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Basic Relationship of Measured Parameters with a


Simple Harmonic Motion

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Typical vibration signatures are not as simple as a single sine


wave. Most machinery vibration consists of complex harmonic
signals. A complex harmonic signal can be described as many
sine waves mixed together. Figure 2 shows a basic example of
a complex harmonic signal that consists of two pure sine waves.
The upper sine wave is four times the frequency and one-fourth
the amplitude of the lower sine wave. The resulting complex
harmonic signal results when the two sine waves are mixed
together.

Figure 2. Formation of a Complex Harmonic Signal

The vibration signals shown in Figures 1 and 2 are shown as


amplitude verses time, which is also known as the time
domain. Amplitude is on the vertical axis, and time is on the
horizontal axis. If a vibration transducer is connected to an
oscilloscope, the oscilloscope display is in the time domain.
Another method to view vibration signals is to plot the amplitude
verses the frequency, which is called the frequency domain.
Figure 3 shows the same two sine waves previously shown in
Figure 2, but as a three-dimensional plot illustrating the views
from the time and frequency domain.

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AMPLITUDE
FREQUENCY

TIME
AMPLITUDE

AMPLITUDE

TIME

FREQUENCY

Figure 3. Views from the Time and Frequency Domain

The French mathematician, Jean Babtiste Fourier, discovered


that all complex harmonic signals can be broken down into a
series of simple sine waves by means of the application of a
mathematical method. The mathematical method can be used
to break down periodic signals into discrete waves (sine waves,
square waves, and triangular waves) as long as the waves
repeat themselves. An FFT spectrum analyzer takes a complex
waveform from a vibration transducer, calculates the discrete
waves that form that signal using Fouriers mathematical
method, and displays the individual waves in the frequency
domain. Using digital technology, the process has been made
fast, leading to the term fast Fourier transformation or FFT.
Besides sine waves, which are pure tones, there are random
vibrations. Random vibrations look similar to a complex
vibration signal except that the vibrations do not repeat regularly
or on a cycle. It is difficult to assign a frequency to random
vibrations. Random vibrations can occur in gas compressors
when the moving gas encounters stationary objects in the gas
stream and creates vortices and turbulence. Friction can also
cause random vibrations.

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In rotating equipment, mechanical sources, such as rotor


unbalance, misalignment, critical speeds, gearing, and
looseness in parts, are only partially responsible for any
vibration. Process-type sources also contribute to vibration,
such as the high velocity of the process gases being handled
and the turbulence in the gas.
Transducers for
Vibration
Variables
There are two general applications for vibration sensors that are
used on rotating equipment. Both applications are used by
Saudi Aramco.
One application is used to detect the actual vibrations of the
rotating shaft within a hydrodynamic radial bearing and to
provide a signal to the appropriate monitoring equipment. Saudi
Aramco uses a noncontacting proximity sensor for the detection
part of the vibration system in this type of application.
The second application is used to detect the effects of the
rotating element vibrations on the static equipment casing
and/or bearing housings. The seismic sensor is used in this
application and is directly mounted on the surface of the body to
be monitored. When anti-friction bearings are used in a
machine, the seismic sensor gives a good indication of rotor
motion because anti-friction bearings have essentially zero
clearance and the dynamic force of rotor vibration is directly
transmitted to the bearing bracket through the bearings.
Vibration information is acquired through the use of transducers
that are strategically located in various positions on the
compressor or the associated equipment. The vibration
transducers convert the mechanical motion of the equipment to
an electrical signal that is sent to a monitoring/control unit.
Table1 describes the advantages, the disadvantages, and the
useful ranges of the transducer types. The selection and
positioning of the proper transducers are discussed later in
various parts of this module.

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Table1. Advantages, Disadvantages, and Useful Ranges of Transducer Types

Transducer
Type

Useful
Frequency
Range

Measurement

Advantages

Disadvantages

Radial Shaft
Vibration
Transducer

0-1 kHz

Displacement

Sensor
Observes Shaft
Directly

Senses surface
imperfections
Conductive parts
only
Mounting difficulty
Frequency limits

Velocity pickup

1-10 kHz

Velocity

Self-generating

Moving parts

Good indicator
of machine
condition

Large size

Hand-held
Accelerometer

With acceleration
output = 10 - 100 kHz
With velocity output =
2.5 - 100 kHz

Acceleration

High
frequencies

Senses EMFs
Frequency limits
Temperature limits

Rugged
Small size
Hand-held

Figure 4 shows the range and the limitations on machinery


vibration analysis systems and transducers. The acceleration
line shows that the signal strength (vibration amplitude) is low at
low frequencies. The displacement line shows that
displacement probes have a low signal strength at high
frequencies but that their frequency response is flat at
frequencies where signal strength is good. The velocity sensor
line indicates that the signal strength is good throughout a range
of frequencies, but that frequency response rolls off at high or
low frequencies.

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Figure 4. Range and Limitations on Machinery Vibration Analysis Systems and


Transducers

Displacement Probes - Displacement is generally the best


parameter to use for very low frequency measurements (i.e.,
less that 600 cpm) in which velocity and acceleration amplitudes
are extremely low. Displacement is traditionally used for
machinery balancing at speeds up to 10,000 or 20,000 rpm, and
it should also be used where stress levels or clearances are the
important criteria. Displacement probes are available for a
variety of applications and are sometimes referred to as
transducers. Saudi Aramco uses noncontacting proximity
systems for displacement probes.
The noncontacting proximity systems, as used by Saudi
Aramco, have the following basic applications that are related to
the proximity probe installations: radial to the rotating shaft,
axial to the rotating shaft, shaft speed, and phase reference.
Regardless of the application, the same types of proximity
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systems are used. Each type consists of the noncontact


proximity probe that is connected with a precise impedance
cable to an oscillator/demodulator unit, which is also known as a
proximitor. Typically, the outputs from the proximitors that are
mounted on a single piece of equipment are instrument-wired to
a common plug-in module installed in a rack that houses plug-in
modules for one or more machine trains.
Noncontacting Proximity Sensor Probes - Noncontacting
proximity sensor probes do not contact the rotating element;
however, they are rigidly positioned so that the probe tip is in
close proximity to the rotating surface. The sensor measures
the gap between the probe tip and the surface. Such
measurement makes the sensor very suitable to detect and to
measure the radial displacement of the shaft with its radial
bearing. A number of different types of proximity probes are
made that operate on different principles to achieve basically
the same result. The following are types of proximitors:
Light Proximity Probe
Inductance Proximity Probe
Capacitance Proximity Probe
Eddy Current Proximity Probe
Although Saudi Aramco only uses the eddy current-type probes,
a brief description of each type is presented below.
The light proximity probe consists of a light source, a two-way
light-conducting fiber-optic lead and probe, and a photo-electric
sensor. Light is conducted to the probe tip through use of half
of a fiber-optic bundle. This light is directed at the surface of the
rotating element. Light that is reflected back by this surface is
conducted to the photo-electric sensor by the other half of the
fiber-optic bundle, and it is converted to a voltage. The light
intensity at the photo-sensor is proportional to the gap between
the sensed surface and the probe tip.
This system has high sensitivity, resolution, and frequency
response, and the system can be used to observe any type of
surface that is reflective or that can be made reflective.
However, industrial application is limited by two problems:
Circumferential variations in surface finish and reflectivity of
most shafts causes significant noise and errors when
observing rotating shafts.
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Oil mist or process-fluid vapors may distort the light in the


probe-to-shaft gap and cause noise and errors due to the
variations in gap transmittance.
Due to the erratic responses, the light proximity probe is only
used as a phase reference transducer by Saudi Aramco.
The inductance proximity probe consists of a ferromagnetic core
inside a coil of wire. A high frequency alternating current is
supplied to the coil, which establishes an alternating magnetic
field at the tip of the probe. The proximity of a metallic surface
near the probe tip varies the strength of the magnetic field and
thereby changes the probe inductance, which modulates the
amplitude of the high frequency alternating current.
It is not necessary that the rotating element under the
inductance probe tip be made of a magnetic material, but the
inductance probe tip must be conductive and magnetically
permeable. The probe will not sense non-conducting materials;
therefore, if the conducting material has a non-conducting
coating applied to it, the probe will only respond to the
underlying metal. Any defects or eccentricity of the underlying
surface will cause noise and erratic false readings even though
the actual finished shaft surface is running true. Because the
probe calibration curves are relatively non-linear and because
they vary with different materials, the inductance proximity
probe is not satisfactory for use on Saudi Aramco rotating
equipment.
The capacitance probe is basically only one plate of a capacitor.
The rotating element forms the other plate, and the air in the
gap is the dielectric material. The variable capacitance of the
probe is generally placed in the feedback loop of an operational
amplifier with a high frequency ac excitation signal. Variations
in the probe-to-shaft gap size vary the capacitance of this circuit
element, and this variance in capacitance changes the
excitation signal. The readout circuitry transforms this signal to
a dc voltage that is proportional to the instantaneous gap.
The capacitance system offers the greatest accuracy, linearity,
and freedom from drift and temperature effects of all the
proximity systems; however, the capacitance system is not
applicable for many industrial uses because the type of material
in the probe-to-shaft gap affects the output signal. Different
gases or water vapor that pass through the probe tip gap will
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change the dielectric characteristics and affect the output signal


or will short-circuit the output completely. When the rotating
shaft is coated with dielectric materials, such as plasma-sprayed
ceramics, the probe senses only the metallic substrate.
The eddy current probe consists of a small coil, usually a flat
pancake shape, at the tip of the probe. A high-frequency ac
(in the frequency range for radio transmission) is applied to this
coil from an oscillator circuit. The proximity probe sets up a
magnetic field in the gap between the end of the probe and the
rotating shaft. In turn, the magnetic flux induces eddy current in
the portion of the shaft that is exposed to this flux. Loss of
energy in the returning signal is detected through use of the
proximitor. Relative distance or displacement is measured
between the probe tip and the surface by sensing the change in
the gap. The eddy current probe is useful for gaps from about
10 to 70 mils, which is the approximate linear range of the eddy
current probe. The sensitivity of most eddy current probes is
200 mV/1 mil. The demodulator circuit in the proximitor
converts the amplitude-modulated ac to a varying dc signal
(along a scale of 0 to -24V).
The eddy current type of noncontact proximity probe is shown in
Figure 5.

PROXIMITY
PROBE

SHAFT

Figure 5. Eddy Current Proximity Probe

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The eddy current system is not affected by different gases in the


probe tip gap. The output signal provides an indication (in mV)
of the varying gap between the sensor and the observed shaft
surface.
The impedance of the probe to proximitor system is a critical
item as the proximitors are tuned to a matching impedance in
the connecting wire cable. Impedance matching prevents errors
in measurement. Tuning is controlled through the use of only
certain equivalent electrical lengths of cable that match the
required impedance. During field installation, this cable length
must never be cut to make an attractive installation. The excess
cable should be rolled and neatly installed. If the cable length is
changed, the system will require recalibration. If the system is
ever replaced, it should be with a cable of the same impedance
or equivalent electrical length.
Proximity Probe Installations - The noncontact proximity
systems as used by Saudi Aramco have the following proximity
probe installation positions: radial to the rotating shaft, axial to
the rotating shaft, rotative speed, and phase relationship.
To analyze the surface of a rotating shaft, a noncontact
proximity probe is usually permanently mounted in a bearing
housing. Noncontact proximity probes can also be clamped to
the bearing housing, in which case the mounted resonance of
the fitting must be taken into consideration. The probe must be
calibrated for the specific shaft material, and the material must
be electrically conductive in order to enable the proximity probe
to properly set up a magnetic field and thereby sense any gaps.
The proximity probe senses shaft surface defects, such as
scratches, dents, thermal growth, and variations in conductivity
and permeability. The proximity probe also senses electrical
and mechanical runout but has difficulty distinguishing vibration
from runout. Electrical runout can be described as an electrical
signal from a proximity probe due to the effect of irregular shaft
conductivity and magnetic permeability in the shaft material.
Mechanical runout can be described as the measurements of
shaft surface imperfections. Shaft surface imperfections are
always present. A proximity probe cannot readily distinguish
shaft runout (mechanical runout) from vibration. A slow roll
may be performed, however, to allow the electronic circuit to
memorize all of the shaft imperfections, which include the
runout, and subtract the imperfections from the signal that the
proximity probe reports at running speed. Slow roll is low rpm
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that occurs during the compressor startup or coastdown. A


digital vector filter (used to obtain the Bode plot) must be zero
nulled so the runout will not be a factor during the slow roll.
The acceptable shaft vibration limit, excluding electrical runout,
can be determined by the following equation:
Allowable shaft vibration in mils peak-to-peak =

12,000
rpm

Saudi Aramco Standard 31-SAMSS-001 specifies that the total


mechanical and electrical runout in the shaft-sensing area must
be less than 0.25 mils.
The measurement of radial vibration is accomplished by
monitoring the dc output of a displacement probe that is
associated with the radial vibration at the bearings. Under
normal operation and with no internal or external pre-loads on
the shaft, the shaft of most machine designs will ride on the oil
pressure dam; however, as soon as the machine receives some
external or internal type pre-load (steady-state force), the radial
position of the shaft in the journal bearing can be anywhere.
The radial position measurement can be an excellent indicator
of bearing wear and heavy pre-load conditions, such as
misalignment.
Radial displacement should be closely monitored during
compressor startup or coastdown. During a compressor
startup, the shaft would be expected to rise from the bottom of
the bearing to some place toward the horizontal centerline of the
bearing. This movement is fundamentally due to the oil flowing
under the shaft, which causes the shaft to rise in the bearing. It
is generally believed that the oil film is about one mil in
thickness.
Because of the ability of the radial position to change under
varying conditions of machinery load and alignment, the
proximity probe transducer system must have a sufficiently long
linear range to allow for the large radial position changes. A
long linear range is required in large machines in which large
bearing clearances are normally present.
For packaged, internally geared, centrifugal compressors, Saudi
Aramco practice recommends that whenever vendor design and
shaft sizes permit, two proximity probes should be installed on
the pinion shaft at 90 degrees apart. As a minimum for each
pinion rotor shaft bearing, a single, radial, proximity-type, shaft
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vibration probe must be provided. If possible, the probes should


be installed in the same relative orientation to the vertical.
Probe orientation may be restricted by physical equipment
configuration.
For gear-driven compressors, two vibration probes should
always be installed adjacent to the bull gear shaft bearing on the
coupling side if the bearing is a sleeve bearing. The use of two
vibration probes that are mounted adjacent to the bull gear is
not required whenever roller or ball bearings are used by the
vendor. If bull gear bearings are anti-friction types, proximity
probes should not be installed. A gear casing accelerometer
system that reads out acceleration and velocity values should
only be provided if it is found to be practical after review with the
machinery vendor. The monitors for the vibration systems are
to be part of the instrument control that, preferably, will be
mounted on the air compressor base plate.
For a radial vibration transducer, Saudi Aramco requires that
two noncontact proximity probes be mounted to or in each radial
hydrodynamic bearing. Unless the rotating equipment
construction prevents access to the bearings, there should be
strict adherence to this requirement. As shown in Figure 7, the
two probes should be installed with as close to 90 degrees of
radial separation as is feasible. The probes must be in the
same radial plane to the shaft in order that a true representation
of the shaft movement can be monitored. Also, the probes must
be installed in order that each probe is offset by 45 degrees
from the top dead center of the bearing. The probes should be
identified as X and Y and not as horizontal and vertical, and
they should be oriented to rotation as shown in Figure 6. The
position of the X and Y probes is defined by Saudi Aramco
convention. The probes are positioned by standing outboard
facing the compressor driver; the left-hand probe is vertical and
the right-hand probe is horizontal.

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Figure 6. Noncontact Eddy Current Probe Orientation

As specified in API Standard 670, the noncontact proximity


probe for a phase reference transducer must be installed so that
its radial axis of observation is along a plane other than the
plane for the radial axes that are observed by the probes for a
radial vibration transducer.
A phase reference transducer also serves as a noncontact
proximity probe. Only a single probe is required to be radially
mounted on an equipment train with the same rotation and
speed. If part of the train has a different rotation or speed, a
separate probe should be provided.
The phase reference transducer detects, once for each
revolution of the shaft, a phase reference mark on the shaft.
This mark may be a keyway, a key, a hole, a slot, or a projection
on the shaft. Any of these marks will cause a radical change in
the probe tip gap and thus provide a signal change to the
proximitor on each revolution.
An oscilloscope references the output signal from a phase
reference transducer to a filtered output signal from a radial
vibration transducer. On the oscilloscope display, the detection
of the phase reference mark appears as a pulse on the radial
vibration waveform. Phase angle is the number of degrees
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(along the x axis of the X/Y plot) from a pulse mark to the first
positive peak in the waveform.
Axial displacement measurements are typically used to monitor
the condition of thrust bearings in rotating machinery. Axially
mounted noncontact proximity probes are used to detect the
axial movement of the rotating element during operation. All
rotating elements have some axial movement in response to
external forces, such as forces that are imposed through
couplings from other equipment in the train or from the coupling
itself, and in response to internal forces in the rotating
equipment, such as changes in process conditions and thermal
changes. All hydrodynamic machines have sufficient axial
clearance that allows relatively large gaps to be set for
displacement alarm and trip setpoints. The typical setpoint for
alarm is 5 mils into the surface (wear) of the bearing babbitt.
The typical setpoint of machine trip is 10 mils into the surface
(wear) of the bearing babbitt. At least two axial thrust position
probes should be mounted to provide axial thrust position
protection. Under the normal operating conditions of a
centrifugal compressor, thrust position can vary with the load of
the machine; therefore, a variation in thrust position
measurements under differential loads and conditions of a
machine are not uncommon. The thrust position measurement
may also be important in the determination of surge or incipient
surge conditions.
The axial shaft movements are normally constrained within
allowable limits by the design of the equipment. Axial shaft
movement constraints are commonly thrust bearings or thrust
shoulders, both of which interact between the rotating and
stationary parts of the equipment.
During normal operation, rotating equipment will have a thrust
load in one direction. The direction of the thrust load depends
on the direction of gas flow through the compressor, the
external loading, and the design of the balance drum. The
design of the thrust bearing compensates for any residual axial
thrust force. The rotating element must be protected from
excessive axial movement that is caused by normal thrust
bearing wear, balance drum seal wear, or thrust bearing failure
that would then permit compressor rotor wear and catastrophic
failure.
Two axially mounted noncontact proximity probes are installed
to sense changes that occur in the axial position of the shaft in
any direction. The movement will be restricted to allowable
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values for the particular machine by alarm and shutdown


functions.
In accordance with 34-SAMSS-625, Saudi Aramco uses axialposition probe arrangements specified in API Standard 670.
There are two probe installation arrangements: an arrangement
for a shaft that is equipped with an integral thrust collar and an
arrangement for a shaft without an integral thrust collar. Figure
7 shows the axial-position probe installation for a thrust bearing
with an integral thrust collar. One probe is mounted to measure
the integral thrust collar, and the other probe is mounted to
measure the end of the shaft.
PROBE VIEWING
END OF ROTOR

INTEGRAL THRUST
COLLAR

PROBE VIEWING
INTEGRAL THRUST COLLAR

Figure 7. API 670 Axial-Position Probe Installation for a Shaft with an Integral
Thrust Collar

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Figure 8 shows the axial position probe installation for a shaft


without an integral thrust collar. This configuration is referred to
by the API Standard 670 as the standard axial position
arrangement. Both axial position probes are mounted to
measure the end of the shaft. Noncontact proximity probes
must never be installed to observe a non-integral thrust collar.
The arrangement prevents incidental compressor shutdown or
alarm in the event that a non-integral thrust collar comes loose
and allows the shaft to move axially.

Figure 8. API 670 Standard Axial-Position Probe Installation Arrangement

In accordance with the requirements specified in API Standard


670, the axial-position monitoring system must use dual voting
logic. In a dual voting logic system, the measurements
processed from the outputs of each transducer must equal or
exceed the setpoint to activate the danger alarm or shutdown
(two out of two).
Axial vibration is not normally continuously monitored on
centrifugal equipment, but it has proven valuable in diagnosing
some particular machinery malfunctioning conditions. If axial
vibration is monitored or used for diagnosis of a particular
machine, the monitored surface must be relatively smooth (16
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rms finish) and perpendicular to the centerline of the rotor.


Monitoring a smooth perpendicular surface will minimize any
effect of mechanical runout on the dynamic output of the probe,
which provides accurate axial vibration readings. Axial vibration
measurements can be read from the same proximity probe that
is used for axial thrust position measurements. Probe-mounting
locations must ensure minimum effect of thermal expansion of
the rotor and minimize the effect of springiness of the thrust
bearing assembly in the accuracy of the reading.
Seismic Probes
Seismic (mass-spring) transducers use the response of a massspring system to measure vibration. The seismic transducer
consists of a mass that is suspended from the transducer case
through the use of a spring of specific stiffness. The motion of
the mass within the case may be damped by a viscous fluid, a
spring, or an electric current. When the transducer case is
contact-mounted to the moving part, the transducer may be
used to measure velocity or acceleration, depending on the
frequency range of interest.
Velocity transducers are no longer being used by Saudi
Aramco. Velocity measurements (usually required for all
structural vibrations with the exception of high frequency gear
mesh vibrations) are obtained through the use of an
accelerometer with signal integration to velocity. This type of
transducer configuration is sometimes called a piezoelectric
velocity transducer.
Saudi Aramco establishes some recommended practices for
seismic transducers, and these practices are partially based on
whether a machine is horizontal or vertical. All vibration
readings should be taken as close as possible to the top
bearing, perpendicular to the shaft, in four positions, 45 to each
other, with one seismic transducer in line with the process
piping connected to the compressor. The acceptable reading
level is 0.18 inches/sec peak rms.
The alarm level is set at one and a half times the acceptance
level. The shutdown level is set at two times the acceptance
level.

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Velocity Transducers - The velocity transducer is an


adaptation from a voice coil in a speaker, and it is shown in
Figure 9. There are two configurations of velocity transducers:
stationary magnet/moving coil and stationary coil/moving
magnet. Figure 10 represents a stationary magnet/moving coil
configuration. The velocity transducer consists of an internal
mass (in the form of a permanent magnet or coil) that is
suspended on springs. A damping fluid, usually oil, surrounds
the mass. A coil of wire or magnet is attached to the pickup
case. The case is held against the vibrating object. The pickup
case moves with the vibrating object while the internal mass
remains stationary and suspended on the springs. The relative
motion between the permanent magnet and the coil generates a
voltage that is proportional to the velocity of motion.
OUTPUT
TERMINALS

DAMPER

WIRE COIL
MAGNET

MASS
SPRING

PICKUP CASE

Figure 9. Velocity Transducer

The velocity transducer is self-generating, and it produces an


output that can be fed to the monitoring system channel without
any further signal conditioning. The raw (unfiltered) output
signal from a velocity transducer can be transmitted to an
oscilloscope or another analyzer instrument. The measurement
processed from a velocity transducers output is a seismic
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measurement (referenced to inertial space). For this reason, a


velocity transducer is also called a seismic transducer.
The velocity transducer has an internal natural frequency
(referred to as mounted resonance) of about 8 Hz (those sizes
that are used for machine monitoring). This natural frequency is
simply the resonance of the single degree of freedom of the
internal mass suspended on springs. The response at
resonance is highly damped because of the internal fluid. This
transducer produces a linear output only above this resonant
frequency.
Accelerometers - The most common acceleration transducer is
the piezoelectric accelerometer, as shown in Figure 10. The
piezoelectric accelerometer consists of piezoelectric disks that
are made of a quartz crystal (or an industrial ceramic called
barium titanate) with a mass bolted on top and a spring that
compresses the quartz. A piezoelectric material generates an
electric charge (voltage) output when the material is
compressed.

MASS

PIEZOELECTRIC
DISKS (QUARTZ)

OUTPUT
TERMINALS
BASE

Figure 10. Piezoelectric Accelerometer

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In operation, the accelerometer base is contact-mounted to the


vibrating object, and the mass wants to stay stationary in space.
With stationary mass and the base moving with the vibration,
the piezoelectric disks get compressed and relaxed. In the most
typically used compression-type models, the seismic mass and
the base alternately exert compression in the piezoelectric
discs. The piezoelectric disks generate a charge (voltage)
output going positive and negative as the disks are alternately
compressed tighter and relaxed. The charge output follows the
motion of the surface in the direction of the accelerometers
sensitive axis. The immediate millivolt output of this transducer
is proportional to the acceleration of the vibrating subject; if the
acceleration level is high, the force transmitted from the shaft to
its supporting radial bearing is high. This force is the cause of
excessive wear and premature failure in a radial bearing.
The measurement processed from an accelerometers output
signal is seismic (absolute motion relative to inertial space).
Unlike the velocity pickup, it is practically unaffected by external
electrical or magnetic fields. Accelerometers are as sensitive to
ground loops as are other pickups. Ground loops can be easily
eliminated by providing ground isolating washers at the
accelerometer base.
As specified in API Standard 670, the accelerometer channel
accuracy for measuring casing vibration must be within 5
percent of 100 millivolts per g (mV/g) over a minimum range of
0.1 g to 75 g, peak, and over the frequency range of 10 Hz to 10
kHz. The electrical impedance of the cable linking the
accelerometer to the signal conditioner and to the channel plugin module is matched to the electrical impedance of the
accelerometer case to avoid problems from electronic noise and
to minimize error in measurement.
The accelerometer has a very high mounted resonance,
typically 25,000 kHz, because the accelerometer has no moving
parts. The response is linear for the first third of the
accelerometers range and it is used below its mounted
resonance. The range is 5 to about 10,000 kHz, depending on
its size. Small accelerometers have low sensitivities but higher
operating frequencies. Some small accelerometers are useful
above 50,000 kHz. Large accelerometers have high
sensitivities but lower high-frequency limits (800 to 1000 kHz).

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Requirements for
PositiveDisplacement
Compressors
Because of design, reciprocating compressors are subject to
vibration. Reciprocating masses, reversing loads, and pulsating
gas streams all contribute to a normal vibration level on the
compressor; however, if the normal vibration level is exceeded,
it indicates that something abnormal is happening, and the
situation should be investigated. Some reciprocating
compressors use a spring or magnet-type vibration switch that
is mounted to the frame. API 618, Reciprocating Compressors
for General Refinery Services, states that the use of ball-andseat or magnetic-type vibration switches are unacceptable;
therefore, Saudi Aramco standard 31-SAMSS-003 requires that
reciprocating compressors for air or process gas service must
have one piezo-velocity transducer located horizontally on the
crank case perpendicular to the crank axis.

Temperature Monitoring
Temperature monitoring systems are primarily used to monitor
bearing conditions on compressors and compressor drivers.
These temperature detectors are sometimes used as protective
instrumentation to actuate a compressor shutdown and to
prevent compressor damage. Temperature monitoring systems
are also used to predict failure or wear of compressor
components, such as interstage valves and piston rings on
reciprocating compressors.
TemperatureMonitoring Probes
A Resistance Temperature Detector (RTD) is a device that
senses temperature through a measurement of the change in
resistance of a material. All metals produce a positive change
in resistance for a positive change in temperature. RTDs are
available in many forms; however, they usually appear in
sheathed form. An RTD probe is an assembly that consists of a
resistance deterrent, a sheath, a lead wire, and a termination
connection. The sheath, which is a closed-end probe that
immobilizes the element, protects the element against moisture
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and the measured environment. The sheath also provides


protection and stability to the transition lead wires from the
fragile element wires. Some RTD probes can be combined with
thermowells for additional protection. In this type of application,
the thermowell will also isolate the system gas from the RTD.
When the nominal value of the RTD resistance is large, system
error is minimized. To obtain a high RTD resistance, a metal
wire with high electrical resistance must be chosen. Platinum
has the highest resistivity of the selected metals that are
commonly used for RTD construction.
RTDs can be constructed of several different types of metal.
Tungsten has a relatively high resistivity, but it is reserved for
very high temperature applications because it is extremely
brittle. Tungsten would also suffer in an oxidizing environment
because of the high reaction rates. Copper is occasionally used
as an RTD element. Coppers low resistivity forces the element
to be longer than a platinum element, but its linearity and very
low cost make it an economical alternative. Copper RTDs have
an upper temperature limit of 120C (248F).
The most common RTDs are made of either platinum, nickel, or
nickel alloys. The economical nickel derivative wires are used
over a limited temperature range. Nickel wire output is nonlinear and tends to drift with time. For the best measurement
integrity, platinum is the metal of choice. Platinum is used as
the primary element in all high-accuracy resistance
thermometers. Platinum is especially suited for a wide range of
degrees as it can withstand high temperatures while maintaining
excellent stability. Platinum shows limited susceptibility to
contamination, which can affect temperature readings. Saudi
Aramco practice recommends platinum RTDs, three-wire, and
calibrated to 100 ohm at 0C (32F).
Although the RTD is an accurate temperature measurement
device, some errors may develop. The RTD is a passive
resistance element, and a current must be applied to the RTD to
develop an output signal. This current generates heat, which
becomes objectionable when it is sufficient to significantly
change the temperature to be measured. This self-heating
effect causes minor errors. To prevent self-heating, a limited
amount of power is used to produce the output signal to
minimize the error.

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Another error that may affect the accuracy of the temperature


measurement may be caused by the lead wire. The copper
lead wire for connection of the RTD to the transducer, although
a satisfactory trade-off between cost and resistance, represents
a resistance in series with the RTD, and thus is a source of
inaccuracy. For long transmission distances, ambient
temperature effects can cause appreciable errors. These errors
can be compensated for by using three-or four-terminal RTD
designs.
Lack of standardization among manufacturers concerning the
relationships between resistance and temperature may cause
an accuracy problem. Errors can occur when RTDs of several
manufacturers are used in a single system, or when the element
of one manufacturer is replaced with the element of another
manufacturer. These errors can be avoided by not mixing RTDs
with different temperature versus resistance curves.
Inaccuracy of an RTD may also result from slow dynamic
response. Slow response may be caused by the RTD
construction - the RTD sensing element consists of an
encapsulated wire that is cut to a length that provides a
predetermined resistance at 0C. The temperature-sensitive
portion of the probe, which depends on the length of the sensing
element, is from 0.5 to 2.5 in. The RTD is thus considered to be
an area sensitive device, and it has a significantly slower
dynamic response than point sensitive devices like
thermocouples. Because RTDs are sheathed or may be
installed in thermowells, the sheathing or thermowell represent
a much larger contribution to the slowing of the dynamic
response; therefore, the slow dynamic response of the RTD is
of little significance.
Thermocouples are another reliable source for temperature
measurement. The thermocouple (T/C) consists of two
dissimilar metal or alloy wires that are joined together at one
end, the so-called measuring (or hot) junction. The free ends
of the two wires are connected to the measuring instrument to
form a closed path in which current can flow. The point at which
the T/C wires connect to the measuring instrument is
designated as the reference (or cold) junction.
Thermocouples function very differently from RTDs but
generally appear in the same configuration. Thermocouples are
usually sheathed and are possibly used in conjunction with a
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280 to +2750C (-440 to +5000F) and an accuracy of 0.1C


(0.2F)
Application of heat to the measuring junction causes a small
electromotive force (EMF or voltage) to be generated at the
reference junction. When a readout device is employed, it
converts the EMF that is produced by the temperature
difference between the measuring and the reference junctions
to display the temperature of the measuring junction. When the
reference temperature is known (usually 0C), and when the
measuring junction is exposed to an unknown temperature, the
EMF that is developed will vary directly with changes in the
unknown temperature.
The noble metal T/C, Types B, R, and S, are all platinum or
platinum-rhodium T/C and share many of the same
characteristics. Platinum wire T/C should only be used inside a
non-metallic sheath, such as high-purity alumina, due to metallic
vapor diffusion at high temperatures that can readily change the
platinum wire calibration. The only other acceptable sheath
would be one made from platinum, which would be rather
expensive.
The platinum-based T/C is the most stable of all the common
T/C. Type S is so stable that it is specified as the standard for
temperature calibration. Type R is similar to type S; the only
difference is that the rhodium makes up 10% instead of 13% of
the wire.
The Type B T/C is the only common thermocouple that exhibits
a double-valued ambiguity. Due to the double-valued curve,
Type B is not used below 50C (122F). Because the output is
nearly zero from 0C (32F) to 42C (107.6F), Type B has the
unique advantage that the reference junction temperature is
almost immaterial, as long as it is between 0C (32F) and 40C
(104F). However, the measuring junction temperature can be
in excess of 1700C (3092F).
The Type E T/C element is made from nickel-chromium metal.
Saudi Aramco practice recommends chromel-constantan
thermocouples manufactured in accordance with ANSI MC 96.1.
Type E is ideally suited for low temperature measurements
because of their low thermal conductivity and high corrosion
resistance. The Type E is useful for detecting small
temperature changes.
Saudi Aramco practice recommends ISA Type J or Type E,
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unless an existing monitoring system requires a different type.


Because of the larger Type E temperature range and higher
EMF output, the Type E chromel (nickel-chrome/constantan vs.
copper-nickel) thermocouple is specified for thrust and journal
bearing temperature sensors instead of the Type J. The Type E
also has better resistance to corrosion caused by H2S.
The Type K T/C is similar to the Type E with the exception that
the one element is made from nickel instead of constantan.
Iron is used as an element in a Type J T/C. Iron is an
inexpensive metal and is rarely manufactured in pure form,
which contributes to the poor accuracy and response
characteristics. Although the impurities in the iron are high, the
Type J T/C is popular because of its low price. The Type J T/C
has a more restrictive temperature limitation than most T/C. At
760C (1400F), an abrupt magnetic transformation occurs that
can cause decalibration even when the T/C is returned to lower
temperatures.
Typically, the measuring instrument is located away from the
point at which the temperature is measured, therefore, a wiring
extension is needed. Because the temperature sensing resistor
for maintaining a constant reference junction EMF can be most
conveniently located in the temperature reading instrument as a
part of its circuit, it is necessary to locate the reference junction
itself in the temperature reading instrument. Therefore, the
thermoelectric circuit must be extended from the measuring
junction, at the point where the temperature measurement is
desired, to the reference junction in the instrument. This is done
through the use of extension wires.
Extension wires theoretically extend the T/C to the reference
junction in the instrument. This wire is generally furnished in the
form of a matched pair of conductors. The simplest procedure
is to use the same types of wire that the T/C itself is made of.
However, in installations with noble-metal T/C where several
hundred feet of extension wire must be used, or where
numerous T/C are employed, such a procedure may become
too expensive. In such cases alternative, lower-cost materials
with similar characteristics at lower temperatures are available.
Thermocouples, much like RTD, suffer from errors in their
measurement. Static electrical noise may be introduced into
T/C circuits by adjacent wires carrying ac power or rapidly
varying (pulsating) dc. These noises can be minimized or
avoided by shielding each pair of extension wires and grounding
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the wire shields. T/C wires must never run in the same conduit
with electric power wires.
Magnetic noise may be induced into a T/C circuit any time the
extension wires are subjected to a magnetic field and a current
is produced to oppose the magnetic field. Magnetic noise can
be minimized by twisting each pair of T/C extension wires.
Cross talk noise between adjacent wire pairs in the same
conduit may also occur. Cross talk can be avoided by shielding
each pair of extension wires.
Common-mode noise in the circuit between the measuring
junction and the transducer may occur when the circuit is
grounded in more than one place, or when different grounding
potentials exist along the wire path. Three different approaches
can avoid these problems; the noise can be minimized by
proper grounding (T/C circuits are usually grounded at the
measuring junction), by shielding each pair of extension wires
and grounding the shields at the T/C only, or by using
differential input measuring devices.
The monitor/control unit should be the same as the general
control instrumentation. The alarm units must have dual
setpoints and outputs, and they must accept the signal directly
from the element. The alarm units must be suitable for back-ofpanel rack mounting, or for mounting at a remote location.
The monitor must provide a fault alarm for open or short circuits
in the control wiring between the detector and the monitor.
Monitor relays that are used for pre-alarm and shutdown output
functions must be the hermetically sealed, plug-in type. The trip
settings must be in accordance with the recommendations of
the compressor manufacturer.
According to SAES-J-601, Recommended Temperature Alarms
and Input Shutdown Devices, 100 ohm platinum RTDs or Type
E or K thermocouples wired directly into a Triple Modular
Redundant Emergency Shutdown (TMR ESD) system, or
analog 4-20 mA dc, or digital signals from ambient temperaturecompensated temperature transmitters/transducer, are
recommended for measuring and inputting ESD temperature
signals. Capillary or bimetallic type, direct process-actuated
temperature switches with an associated indicating gauge must
not be used unless thermocouple or RTD measurements are
not practical or feasible.
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In addition, shutdown concerns are as follows: Low-low


compressor suction temperature shutdown inputs are
recommended for cases in which process upsets may cause
operating temperatures to drop below design limitations of a
compressor or cause undesirable phase changes of process
gases. High-high temperature shutdown inputs and alarms are
recommended for compressor lube-oil temperature; compressor
discharge temperature, or compressor bearing temperatures
where high temperature excursions or process upsets may
cause a compressor malfunction, internal damage or unsafe
operating conditions.
Embedded - An embedded temperature monitoring probe is

typically an RTD or a thermocouple. Saudi Aramco does not


permit the use of spring-loaded, bayonet-type, temperature
sensors that contact the outer shell of the bearing metal.
Experience has shown that a consistently good contact for
reliable and accurate readings is not obtained. In addition,
through-drilling and puddling of the babbitt is not permitted. The
thermocouple is inserted through a drilled hole in the bearing
retainer, and its tip is made to firmly contact the backing metal
but not in contact with the babbitt. This installation method
provides the most reliable results and can detect a temperature
change more quickly than if the thermocouples were measuring
the temperature of the oil stream. Measurement of the backing
metal could be significant in the case of a sudden rapid rise in
bearing temperature, which might lead to severe bearing or
compressor damage before the compressor could be shut
down.
Saudi Aramco practices require the installation arrangement of
radial bearing temperature sensors for sleeve-type and tiltingpad type journal bearings, and the installation arrangement of
axial bearing temperature sensors, are to be installed in
accordance with API 670 unless otherwise stated in the
equipment specifications. Bearing, casing, and oil throw-off
temperature monitoring equipment must comply with SAES-J400. Saudi Aramco practice recommends that bearing
temperature sensors be installed to facilitate replacement during
compressor operation.
When embedded elements are used for bearing temperature
measurement, extra elements must be installed in the bearing
oil throw-off lines. API Standard 670 requires that two
temperature sensors be mounted on both the active and
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inactive sides of a hydrodynamic thrust bearing. The sensors


are to be located in the lower half of the bearing at 120 degrees
apart. Radial bearing temperature sensors, which are
replaceable and embedded in the shoe, are to be in accordance
with FORM ISS 8020-415-ENG and FORM ISS 8020-416-ENG.
Oil Drain - Oil drain probes consist mainly of thermocouple-type

temperature detectors that are installed in the oil drain line, as


shown in Figure 11. The thermocouple is installed in a
thermowell with the tip of the thermocouple in contact with the
bottom of the thermowell. Oil drain temperature is monitored to
identify potential operational problems that may cause failure of
a bearing. When used with an embedded temperature sensor,
the temperature of the bearing metal is not to exceed 220F
(alarm level) with an oil inlet temperature of 140F, while the oil
drain return temperature should not exceed 180F. The
compressor bearing shutdown temperature is 240F.

Figure 11 Oil Drain Line Thermocouple Installation

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MAJOR CONCERNS OF CONDITION MONITORING, MALFUNCTION


DIAGNOSIS, AND PREDICTIVE MAINTENANCE
Data collected from a condition monitoring system are typically
used for historical trending, machinery diagnostics, and
predictive maintenance purposes. Historical trending,
machinery diagnostics, and predictive maintenance are terms
that describe the process whereby some parameter is
measured in a non-intrusive manner and trended over time.
The measured parameter(s) have a direct relationship to the
performance and/or health of the equipment, or at least some
aspect of the equipment health.
Trending and predictive maintenance are two important aspects
of a viable maintenance program. Trending is defined as a
method of establishing a baseline and monitoring parameter
change over time. Predictive maintenance is defined as an
approach to and a methodology for maintenance.
Trending establishes a baseline of the initial operational
parameters of a piece of equipment and monitors change from
that value. A baseline can be a graphical presentation or simply
a compilation of data. This baseline is then compared to data
that are taken during the service life of a piece of equipment to
identify changes in the operational efficiency and health of the
equipment. The changes can then be used to determine the
cause of the differences or the future implications. The
operational parameters measured for trending analysis may be
sophisticated (such as vibration analysis) or simple (such as the
pressure drop across an oil filter).
The predictive approach to maintenance is, as mentioned,
based on the material condition of the compressor and on the
prediction of time to failure. Scheduling of maintenance based
on prediction of equipment failure can be less expensive than
the preventive or run-to-failure approaches. As a methodology
for maintenance, predictive maintenance uses projected data or
trends from condition monitoring techniques to determine the
trouble free service life of equipment. These techniques monitor
deterioration of processing conditions and specific events that
precede the development of equipment faults or failures.

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Assessments of mechanical condition based on trending and


predictive maintenance will allow a facility to maintain
equipment, which results in lower maintenance costs. Lower
maintenance costs are realized through limitation of
unnecessary replacement of equipment or equipment
components. The accumulation of pertinent data that are used
to develop trend analysis will assist in the identification of
problems in the operation of the equipment, which results in
fewer unexpected equipment failures.
The more typical vibration problems that are identified by
malfunction diagnosis and the percentage of time that they are
encountered are as follows: imbalance 40%, misalignment
30%, and resonance at critical speeds 20%. These three items
collectively account for 90% of all vibration-related problems.
Bearings account for most of the remaining 10%. These causes
comprise the majority of the causes of excessive vibrations.
Mass imbalance is a condition in which, due to an unbalance
mass, the rotation center of gravity is not coincident with the
shafts geometric center. In malfunction diagnosis, unbalance is
suspected when vibration frequency is 1 rotational speed, with
an amplitude of displacement proportional to the amount of
imbalance.
Perfect balance is a zero quantity and cannot be measured.
Balance measures the centrifugal force on the rotor due to a
heavy spot. The heavy spot is an imaginary area that is applied
to a rigid rotor. Several factors contribute to the development of
the heavy spot: voids, mass nuances, and other defects. This
imbalance can be remedied through isolation of the spot and
through counterbalance of the weight with an equal weight 180
opposite.
Coupling misalignments are frequently diagnosed as the cause
of vibration. Coupling misalignment is the condition in which the
shafts of the driver and the compressor are not on the same
centerline. Misalignment is usually referred to as being parallel
or offset. In parallel misalignment, the axes of the shafts of the
driver and of the compressor are parallel but not on the same
axis. In offset misalignment, the axes of the driver and of the
compressor are at an angle to each other. Although flexible
couplings are employed to remedy misalignment, some
instances arise in which the alignment is so far from perfect that
it causes excessive vibrations.
Malfunction diagnosis would recognize misalignment vibration in
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the frequency domain as a series of harmonics of the running


speed. For instance, if the rotational speed was 1800 rpm
(rotational frequency of 30 Hz), then the maximum amplitude of
acceleration would occur at rotational amplitudes such as 30,
60, 90 Hz, etc. Offset misalignment is frequently diagnosed at a
vibration frequency of 1 the rotational amplitude and parallel
misalignment is frequently diagnosed at a vibration frequency of
2 the rotational amplitude. The harmonics occur because of
the strain that is induced in the shaft. The harmonics are the
displaced portion of the distorted sine wave that did not reach its
full excursion in amplitude. The misplaced energy from the sine
wave will be displaced to another frequency level, typically
higher, and will most likely be indicated on an accelerometer.
Resonance is a condition in which the frequency of driving force
that is applied to a structural part or a rotating part is close to
the parts natural frequency of vibration. Amplitudes of resonant
vibration are amplified. The source of the driving force is most
likely residual imbalance in a rotor system or broadband
turbulence that is due to fluid motion. As a rotor turns, the
centrifugal force of the unbalance can be transmitted from the
rotor to the structure of the machine as a vibratory force. If this
force encounters a structural part that is tuned to the rotational
frequency by virtue of its mass and stiffness, then that part will
be excited into resonance. When the ratio of input force
frequency over the natural frequency is equal to one, resonance
will occur.
In rotors, the speed at which resonant vibration occurs is called
critical speeds. In accordance with the formula for centrifugal
force, the vibratory force should increase as the square of the
speed, which is true in the low-speed range. When approaching
critical speed, the vibration increases much more than expected
by the centrifugal force formula. The vibration peaks at the
critical speed and then smoothes out. Rotors run smoother
above the first critical speed than below it.
Table 2 provides a quick overview of mechanical defects that
cause problematic vibration and the typical symptoms of these
defects.

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Table 2. Potential Causes of Defects


Defect

Frequency of Main
Vibration Hz =
rpm/60

Direction

Remarks

Unbalance

1 x RPM

Radial

A common cause.

Misalignment
or Bent Shaft

Usually 1x rpm

Radial and
Axial

A common cause.

Often 2 x rpm
Sometimes 3 and 4 rpm

Imbalance

1 Shaft critical speed

Primarily
radial

Vibrations excited when passing through


critical shaft speed are maintained at higher
shaft speeds.

Damaged
Bearings

Impact rate - Vibration at


high frequency ( 2 to 60
kHz

Radial and
Axial

Uneven vibration levels.

Loose
Journal
Bearing

Subharmonics of shaft
rpm, exactly 1/2 or 1/3
rpm

Primarily
Radial

A loose journal bearing may only develop at


operating speed and temperature.

Oil Whirl

Slightly less than half


speed, 48 to 53%

Primarily
Radial

Applicable to high speed machines using


sleeve-type bearings.

Damaged or
Worn Gears

Tooth-meshing
frequencies (shaft rpm x
number of teeth) and
harmonics

Radial and
Axial

Side-bands around tooth-meshing


frequencies indicate modulation at frequency
corresponding to side-band spacings.
Normally only detectable with very narrowband analysis and cepstrum analysis.

Mechanical
looseness

2 x rpm

Faulty belt
drive

1 - 4 x rpm of belt

Radial

Unbalance
reciprocating
forces and
couples

1x rpm and/or multiples


for higher-order
unbalance

Primarily
radial

Increased
Turbulence

Blade and Vane passing


frequencies and
harmonics

Radial and
Axial

An increase in frequency indicates increased


gas turbulence.

Electrically
induced
vibrations

1 x rpm or 1 or 2 times
synchronous frequency

Radial and
Axial

Should disappear when power turned off.

Gas
disturbances
(stall)

.3 to .4 times the
synchronous frequency

Radial

Frequency caused by diffuser stall.

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Also sub- and inter-harmonics, as for loose


journal bearings.
The precise problem can usually be visually
identified through use of a stroboscope.

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The remainder of this section will discuss the major concerns of


condition monitoring, malfunction diagnosis, and predictive
maintenance as they apply to dynamic compressors and
positive displacement compressors.

Dynamic Compressors
Condition monitoring, malfunction diagnosis, and predictive
maintenance for dynamic compressors are concerned with
vibration, axial position, bearing temperatures, seal fluid flow,
seal fluid leakage, balance line pressure differential,
performance, and oil analysis. These factors can be the
indicators of a problem or a potential failure during dynamic
compressor operation.
Vibration
The identification of abnormal operating characteristics is most
readily apparent through the use of vibration analysis. Although
centrifugal compressors run smoother than reciprocating
compressors, they operate at much higher speeds.
Consequently, if a problem does arise that causes abnormal
patterns of vibration to occur, the effects can lead to a faster
catastrophic failure.
Centrifugal compressors run considerably smoother than
reciprocating compressors due to the extra time that is taken to
balance the units in preparation for the higher operating speeds
and due to the absence of pulsation forces present in
reciprocating compressors. Centrifugal compressors must be
extensively monitored due to the higher speeds and the
catastrophic compressor damage that may occur in event of
failure. Because centrifugal compressors are typically regarded
as critical machines, the expense incurred by incorporating
them into a condition monitoring system can be easily
rationalized.
Centrifugal compressors frequently operate above their first
critical speed and sometimes between the second and third
criticals. At these speeds, the rotors can display flexible modes
of deflection. The deflections that occur at these speeds could
cause rotor components to come in contact with stationary
components, resulting in compressor damage. The bearings
and their lubrication system are important at these higher
speeds to provide damping and to limit radial vibration. Some
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vibration problems on compressors can be corrected through a


change in the oil viscosity. Abrupt loss of damping in fluid film
bearings has led to catastrophic failures.
In centrifugal compressors that use hydrodynamic bearings,
radial noncontact proximity probes are used to measure radial
shaft vibration. However, if analysis of vibration within the high
range of vibration frequencies is desired, the frequency
limitations of the proximity probe about 2000 Hz will be
detrimental. In such cases, an accelerometer (with an output
signal proportional to acceleration) can be used to measure
vibration of the bearing housing.
Centrifugal and axial compressors can experience two causes
of vibration that are unique: surging and choking. Surge occurs
when the demand that is required by the process exceeds the
maximum energy (head) that the dynamic compressor can
produce. The energy that is required by the process is directly
proportional to the system resistance and is inversely
proportional to gas density. Gas then flows in the reverse
direction through the compressor, which creates a turbulent
condition that results in vibration characteristics that are nonperiodic and broadband. If surging is allowed to continue, it will
cause extensive damage.
Choking is the opposite of surging and occurs when the energy
that is required by the process is low. When the process energy
is low, the gas velocity through the compressor increases.
When the velocity in the diffuser section approaches Mach 1, a
turbulent or circulating flow between the compressor blades will
occur, which has the effect of blocking the flow of gas. The
vibration level increases because of the turbulent gas flow
conditions in the compressor. The vibration is also non-periodic
and broadband, just like surging. A check of the discharge
pressure will determine whether the problem is surging or
choking. The solution to this problem is to reduce the gas flow
through the compressor.
Axial Position
Axial position measurement indicates the amount of axial thrust
that is experienced by the compressor rotor. The primary
purposes of a monitoring system channel for axial position are
the following:
To ensure against axial movement of the rotor that can
cause the rotating elements to make contact with the
stationary components and cause extensive damage.
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To ensure against degradation of the axial thrust bearing


that would lead to bearing failures. Such failures can be
catastrophic.
Thrust bearings are required to be loaded in the active thrust
direction with a minimum thrust bearing loading of 75 psi. The
active thrust direction is the direction of a rotor axial thrust load
when the compressor is operating under normal conditions.
Zero thrust position is the center of the cold float zone of the
compressors rotor. Figure 14 shows an example of a cold float
zone, of displacement values for tolerable thrust movement out
of the cold float zone (in either the active or inactive direction),
and of alarm (alert) and shutdown (danger) limits for axial
position.
The limits that are shown on Figure 12 are an example for
conventional tilting-pad thrust bearings that are found in most
turbo machinery and in which babbitt thickness is in the range of
25 to 40 mils. These values do not apply to most tapered-land
or thin-babbitt bearings, such as those bearings that are found
in gearboxes. Bearings in this class must be considered on a
case-by-case basis in determining rational thrust limits.
Equipment manufacturers limits may be considered but, in
many cases, will be too conservative and lead to difficulty in
setting up the monitoring system.

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Figure 12. Axial Position Limits

Bearing
Temperatures
When the bearing temperature of a sleeve bearing exceeds the
melting point of its lowest-melting-point metal, which is usually
lead or tin, large areas of the bearing lining will be cleanly
removed from the steel back. An increase in bearing pad
temperature is a clear indication of an increase in bearing load.
Increased bearing load will increase the lubricant film friction,
which results in an increase in lubricant and bearing pad
temperature. A scenario such as this demonstrates the
importance of bearing temperature monitoring.
Although the melting temperature of babbitt material is
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approximately 300F, and although the typical operating oil


temperature is 120 to 140F, some areas of the bearing surface
temperature may vary greatly. The bearing metal temperature
must not exceed 220F (alarm setpoint) at the loaded area
based on an oil inlet temperature of 140F (31-SAMSS-001).
In accordance with 31-SAMSS-001, journal bearings must be
provided with two temperature sensors or one duplex-type
sensor that is mounted at the loaded area. Replaceable
embedded sensors that can be changed without changing the
bearing are required. All wiring must terminate in a location that
is accessible without machine dismantling. Tilting pad-type
thrust bearings must have two temperature sensors or one
duplex type sensor in each of the active and inactive sides.
Bearing temperature monitoring must comply with 34-SAMSS625.
Seal Fluid Flow
In the case of oil film seals, seal oil is injected between two
collars or bushings (sleeves) that run at close clearance to the
shaft. For oil film type seals, seal oil is supplied as a controlled
differential pressure of 5 psid above the internal gas pressure.
The seal oil flow towards the gas stream of the system through
the gas-side bushing. The oil and system gas mix and
discharge through the contaminated oil drain line to be
reclaimed or discarded. An oil film seal bushing will have a seal
leakage of 10 to 20 gallons per day; larger compressors will
have even more flow. The oil that does not flow across the gasside bushing returns to the oil reservoir for reuse.
In addition, the oil provides the cooling and lubrication. The seal
oil flow toward the gas stream is a direct function of the
pressure difference between oil and gas. The static pressure
from an overhead tank, combined with the system gas stream
pressure, provide the necessary flow pressure.
Mechanical seal leakage is approximately 5 to 10 gallons per
day flow at an oil-to-gas differential pressure of 35 to 50 psid.

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Seal Fluid
Leakage
Seal oil leakage can result in significant operating costs during
the life of the equipment. Such costs can result from both the
replenishment and the disposal of discarded oil. An extreme
case is where compressors are located offshore, and
contaminated oil is shipped onshore for disposal.
Seal oil leakage rates should be thoroughly evaluated before
order placement and then enforced on the test stand prior to
equipment acceptance. Stated shop test leakage rates may
vary slightly from guaranteed field leakage rates due to different
seal clearance and differential pressure on the test stand. The
shop test and field leakage rates may differ due to the
adjustment of seal clearances for the shop test conditions. Oil
replacement costs and the cost of disposing of contaminated oil
can be significant on an offshore platform. The life of that oil
can be extended through use of a reclamation system. The
type of system will depend upon the volume of oil and the
contaminants that are present.
Balance Line
Differential
Because a labyrinth seal is utilized, a certain amount of leakage
occurs across the balance piston. This leakage is normally
routed back to the compressor suction, which creates a
differential pressure across the balance piston. Because the
balance piston seal must seal the full compressor pressure rise,
integrity of the seal is crucial to efficient performance and thrust
bearing load. A damaged seal results in higher leakage rates,
higher horsepower consumption, and greater thrust loads. A
balance line differential pressure increase is an indication that
the balance drum labyrinth clearance has increased.
Performance
Compressor performance degradation is expected over time.
However, degradation beyond the expected amount
unnecessarily reduces efficiency and performance. Identification
of these abnormal operations requires accurate trend analysis.
Through the use of a properly established baseline and the plot
of percentage change of a parameter, the initial and current
performance curves can be compared.
The initial curve may be predicted by the manufacturer, but the
curve should be adjusted in accordance with established field
data. Inlet conditions, discharge conditions, gas analysis, inlet
volume flow, and speed must be taken into consideration and
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compensated for when identifying the magnitude of the


performance curve shift. The actual operating range will
determine the urgency of any maintenance shutdown.
The performance curve generally shifts downward and toward
reduced flow because of less head capability, as shown in
Figure 13, due to polymer buildup, dirt, corrosion, and increased
internal recirculation from seal wear. Additionally, the process
system may be fouling, which causes a greater restriction for a
given flow, and results in more required head to overcome the
system resistance.
The efficiency is reduced due to the increased frictional losses
and/or increased internal recirculation, which shifts the curves
down. This increased resistance also effectively reduces the
capacity of the compressor, which shifts the curves to the left.
The shape of the curve will also change.

Figure 13. Performance Degradation

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Oil Analysis
Oil analysis is performed in acceptance with Saudi Aramco
Lubrication Manual. The actual conduct of oil analysis is not
performed by Saudi Aramco Engineers. The following section
briefly describes basic analysis that can be performed without
analytical chemistry equipment.
Several tests are available that help to identify potential trends
or imminent problems. Oil samples should be taken on a
routine basis as specified by a preventive/predictive
maintenance schedule. Daily sampling should be performed for
visual inspection of the oil. Oil sampling should also be
performed when unusual conditions occur. Such conditions
include the following:
An abnormal change in the compressor operating
temperature, pressure, vibration, or noise level.
Sudden oil color change.
Foaming in the oil system sight glasses.
Excessive leakage, venting, or oil consumption.
The daily oil samples should be visually inspected for the
presence of free water and solid particulate matter. The criteria
for this observation are whether a properly treated sample is
clear and bright or whether it is cloudy or milky.
The term clear refers to the absence of solid particulate matter
in the oil sample. Visible particulate may indicate bearing wear,
internal component rubbing, or oil filter failure.
The term bright refers to the absence of visible free water in
the oil sample. Small quantities of water will dull the brightness
of the sample. As the amount of water increases, the
appearance changes to a haze and finally to a cloudy or milky
appearance. If the oil has a hazy appearance, the sample
should be allowed to settle for 30 minutes to remove entrained
air. If the sample haze clears from the bottom to the top, the
haze is attributed to entrained air. If the haze clears from the
top to the bottom, the haze is due to solids or free water. Water
in the oil system indicates cooler tube leaks, moist air
entrainment, worn steam seals (if the driver is a steam turbine),
or the use of moist purge air.

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Periodic (typically monthly) oil samples should be taken and


sent to an oil analysis laboratory for spectrographic analysis.
Results from this test are used to determine abnormal wear
rates in the compressor.
In addition to the normal parameters, flash point should be
analyzed whenever a combined lube/seal system is used.

Positive-Displacement Compressors
Condition monitoring, malfunction diagnosis, preventive
maintenance, and predictive maintenance for positivedisplacement compressors are concerned vibration, rod drop,
packing, bearing temperatures, cooling jacket temperature,
performance, and oil analysis. These factors can be the
indicators of a problem or a potential failure during positivedisplacement compressor operation.
Vibration
Reciprocating compressors have more vibration than dynamic
compressors because they are non-continuous (pulsing) flow
devices. Also, they are more difficult to analyze the vibration
characteristics. Reciprocating compressors have inherently
high vibration amplitudes at 1X vibration frequencies. The
vibrations are mainly caused by the imbalance that is attributed
to the connecting rod and pistons that continuously change the
radius of their mass centers. Such imbalance can only be
partially compensated for by counterweights. The high
amplitudes of vibration at 1X vibration frequencies are not
necessarily a sign of trouble in the compressor. The
compressor is designed and built to withstand these vibrations.
However, excessive vibrations may be symptomatic of problems
such as compression leaks, which cause a decrease in
efficiency and power output.
The two main vibration sources that are associated with
reciprocating compressors are resonance and operational
problems. Resonance occurs at the components natural
frequency and can be identified by a simple bump test. The
bump test is conducted by striking the component with a
hammer and then measuring the components vibration; the
recorded frequency of vibration in response to the bump is the
natural frequency.

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Operational problems can be detected by trending the vibration


amplitude over time. The compressor must be brought to a
specific speed under specific load conditions, and
measurements must be taken at the same point for accurate
comparison.
Vibration analysis of a positive-displacement compressor is
complex. One method that makes this analysis easier is to
have a prior baseline vibration signature available, in both the
time and frequency domains. When a problem develops,
another vibration signature is captured and compared to the
baseline, and the differences can help to identify the problem.
The causes of vibration in positive-displacement compressors
can be attributed to normal conditions, such as reciprocating
masses, reversing loads, and pulsating gas streams. Some of
the abnormal conditions include pistons that strike the cylinder
end and drive train component failure.
Rod Drop
The potential threat of rod drop is monitored through use of rod
drop indicators. These indicators monitor the position of the
piston rod relative to the packing case, which provides an
indication of how the wear or rider bands in the cylinder are
degrading. As the wear bands become thinner, the piston drops
in the cylinder, thus the rod drops relative to the packing case.
Two indicator styles are available: the contacting and the
noncontacting type. The contacting type requires the rod to
drop down and contact a soft metal cap over a pneumatic line
that is mounted at the bottom of the packing case flange. As
the rod rubs off the soft metal cap, the air escapes from the
pneumatic line. This action vents pressure from a switch that, in
turn, activates an alarm.
The noncontacting type utilizes a small probe (usually eddy
current-type) that is mounted on the packing case flange over
the piston rod. The probe emits an electronic signal and
evaluates the change in signal interference that is created by
the probes proximity to the rod. An electronic circuit determines
the probe-to-rod distance. Calculation and setting of alarm
points are possible through comparison of the initial clearance
between the probe and the rod to the allowable wear of the
rider. The advantages of this system include the elimination of
wear-prone contact between the sensing element and the rod in
the packing travel area. The continuous monitoring of the rider
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band wear rates is also possible.


Packing
The design of the positive-displacement compressor takes into
account that a small amount of leakage will occur between the
packing and the piston rod unless the packing has a buffer
pressure that is introduced to negate leakage from inside the
cylinder.
Increased packing leakage can be indicative of excessive
packing wear. Packing leakage can also increase for reasons
such as an increase in the gas pressure level, or a lower
molecular weight. When the packing leaks, the effect on
capacity is limited to the loss of fluid from the packed end of the
cylinder. This packing leakage is variable and can affect
efficiency. Most compressors are not equipped with packing
leakage monitors (flow meters). Excessive leakage can be
determined by visual and audible observation of the compressor
distance piece vent.
Bearing
Temperatures
In accordance with 31-SAMSS-003, the oil temperature rise
through the bearings and housings must not exceed 20C
(35F) at the specified operating conditions with an inlet oil
temperature of 60C (140F). In accordance with API 670, the
full-scale range for bearing temperature monitoring must be
from 0 to 300F with a minimum resolution of 1F.
Cooling Jacket
Temperature
During the normal compression cycle, reciprocating compressor
cylinders typically generate considerable amounts of heat. The
heat is generated by the work of compression plus the friction of
the piston rings against the cylinder wall. Unless some of this
heat is dissipated, undesirable high operating temperatures will
occur. Most cylinders that are intended for process gas
operation are designed with a jacket that allows this heat to be
removed through use of a cooling medium.
There are a number of advantages in dissipating the heat that is
generated during the compression cycle. Losses in capacity
and horsepower due to the suction gas being preheated by
warm cylinder gas passages are reduced by lowering the
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cylinder wall operating temperatures. Cooling the inlet gas


reduces the gas density, which results in an increase of the
mass flow per unit volume. Dissipating the heat from the
cylinder and reducing the inlet gas temperature also creates a
better operating climate for the compressor valves, yielding
longer valve life and reduced formation of deposits.
Removal of the heat from the gas during compression lowers its
final discharge temperature and reduces the power required for
compression. In addition, a jacketed cylinder that is filled with
coolant will maintain a more even temperature throughout the
cylinder and reduce hot spots that could cause uneven thermal
expansion and undesirable deformation of the cylinder. Finally,
a lower cylinder wall temperature leads to better bore
lubrication. Lubricants will break down less on a cool wall than
they would on a hot wall, and better lubrication leads to
extended ring life and less maintenance.
Although there are many benefits, the cylinders operating
temperatures should not be lowered too much. The problems
that are created by introducing a warm saturated gas into a
cylinder with cold metal sections must be considered.
Condensation will occur in the bore, which washes the lubricant
from the cylinder walls and causes accelerated wear of the
piston and rider rings. A large quantity of condensed liquid could
collect in the inlet gas passage and be introduced into the
cylinder as a slug of liquid, which could lead to broken valves
and possibly a broken cylinder. To avoid this condensation
problem, a good practice is to use a cylinder coolant
temperature that is approximately 6C (20F) warmer than the
inlet gas temperature.
Condition monitoring of cooling jacket inlet and outlet
temperature (temperature rise) will provide a good indication of
cooling jacket condition, such as fouling or corrosion.
Performance
Performance degradation of positive displacement compressor
can be caused by the wearing of several different components
or by poor operational practices. There are a number of loss
factors that generally reduce positive-displacement compressor
capacity and are inherent in the design or the operating
parameters. For instance, losses that are associated with the
valves will affect performance. Valve preload is a typical and
necessary design loss. However, over the life of the
compressor, this loss should not increase.
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Valve leakage is a concern and may be identified through a


reduction in compressor output. Discharge valve leakage
allows fluid to leak back into the cylinder bore from the
discharge passage, which allows hot gas back into the cylinder
and decreases capacity. Suction valve leakage allows fluid to
leak from the cylinder bore to the cylinder suction passage with
the same effect as the problem that is associated with discharge
valve leakage.
Piston ring leakage is another concern. Upon commissioning of
a positive-displacement compressor, a small amount of piston
ring leakage is expected; however, over a period of time,
leakage will increase due to the wear of the cylinder wall
sleeves and/or the piston rings. The effect will be identified
through a reduction in capacity and flow.
In a double-acting compressor, the effect is twofold. As the gas
leaks from the higher pressure side of the ring, the capacity is
reduced by loss of mass in the high-pressure end. Gas leakage
also increases the mass in the low pressure end, which
decreases the mass that will flow in through the suction valves.
The leakage process is closely approximated as isenthalpic,
which results in an increase in the temperature in the lowpressure end of the cylinder. The result is lower density at
maximum volume, which further reduces capacity. When the
piston reverses and the high-pressure end become the lowpressure end, the process reverses. Thus, a small amount of
gas is essentially trapped in the cylinder.
Because the time average pressure drop in one direction is
higher, a single-acting cylinder will generally show higher
leakage than a double-acting cylinder.
The capacity of a positive-displacement compressor can be
affected by excessive temperature of the gas stream. As the
temperature of the inlet gas stream increases, the capacity of
the compressor will decrease. The heating effects that are
internal to the cylinder bore also affect the capacity of the
positive-displacement compressor. As the bore temperature
increases, less heat is transferred from the trapped gas stream.
The subsequent higher temperature and lower density of the
gas will result in the lower throughput. Although the
performance of a compressor is affected by more than the
examples that are given, the resulting loss in efficiency of those
examples that are listed combine to make up the majority of the
losses.

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Engineering Encyclopedia

Compressors
Evaluating Installation of Vibration
Monitoring Equipment for Compressors

GLOSSARY
acceleration

The rate at which velocity increases or decreases. Measured in


gs (the acceleration produced by gravity at the earths surface;
equal to 386.087 in/sec2).

accelerometer

A transducer that responds to acceleration and that produces an


electrical output signal (in millivolts) that is directly proportional to
acceleration. Some accelerometers contain circuitry to integrate
the response to acceleration to an output signal proportional to
velocity.

amplitude

The magnitude of a variable that varies periodically at any instant


during a cycle (or period).

babbitt

A soft lead/tin mixture used as a surface in bearings.

condition
monitoring

A process and a method of monitoring specific parameters on


equipment to determine the status of the mechanical condition.

critical equipment

Equipment that is considered to be vital to continued production


and that is usually non-spared.

displacement

Movement of an object from a position of rest, equilibrium, or in


relation to a reference point.

electromotive force A rise in electrical potential energy.


frequency

The number of cycles that a periodic variation completes in a


given period. Sometimes stated in cycles per minute (cpm) or
cycles per second (cps, Hertz, Hz). For vibration, frequency is
also expressed as a multiple (1, 2) of shaft rotative speed.

non-contact
proximity probe

A sensor that detects the gap between its tip and a shaft surface.

non-critical
equipment

Non-critical equipment is defined as equipment that is not critical


to production and that can, therefore, be spared.

peak-to-peak
amplitude

In reference to a waveform that traces a periodic variation of


displacement, the maximum amplitude of displacement that
occurs during a complete cycle. On an X/Y graph, it is
represented as the sum of the vertical line from the zero
reference line to the positive peak and from the vertical reference
line to the negative peak.

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Engineering Encyclopedia

Compressors
Evaluating Installation of Vibration
Monitoring Equipment for Compressors

phase angle

An expression in degrees that defines the relationship between


events that occur as a rotating shaft vibrates. Typically, phase
angle defines the number of degrees that the unbalance mass
(heavy spot) in a shaft has rotated between the event in which a
phase reference transducer detects a phase reference mark and
the vent in which the heavy spot makes the closest approach
(high spot) to the sensor of a radial vibration transducer.

phase reference
transducer

A transducer that identifies a once-per-revolution event (phase


reference mark) on the rotating shaft.

resistance
temperature
detector (RTD)

A general term for any device that senses temperature by


measuring the change in resistance of a material.

root mean square


(RMS)

In reference to measurements of vibration, 71% (.707) of a zeroto-peak value for velocity or acceleration. Calculated
algorithmically as follows: a number of instantaneous values
occurring during one cycle or during several cycles are squared;
the average of the squared values is taken; and the square root
of this average is then taken. In a vibration monitoring system,
velocity and acceleration are often measured in terms of RMS
values.

seismic transducer

A transducer that is used to measure velocity or acceleration.


The term seismic indicates the measurement type: motion in
relation to free space or to a fixed point in free space. Seismic
transducers include accelerometers and velocity transducers,
which measure structural vibration.

thermocouple

A junction of two dissimilar metals that has a voltage output that


is proportional to the difference in temperature between the hot
junction and the cold junction.

thermowell

A closed-end tube that is designed to protect temperature


sensors from harsh environments, high pressure and flows.
Thermowells can be installed in a system by pipe thread or
welded flange, and they are usually made of corrosion resistant
metal or ceramic material.

triple modular
redundant
emergency
shutdown system

An emergency or safety shutdown system that employs a twoout-of-three voting scheme to determine the appropriate output
action.

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Engineering Encyclopedia

Compressors
Evaluating Installation of Vibration
Monitoring Equipment for Compressors

velocity

The time rate at which an object is moving. For vibration,


measured in inches per second (in/sec).

velocity transducer

A transducer that senses velocity of vibration and that produces


an electrical output signal (in mV) that is proportional to velocity.

vibration

Motion in which an object undergoes periodically occurring


displacement. Vibration is measured in terms of its variables of
displacement (mils), velocity (in/sec), and acceleration (gs). For
rotating machinery, vibration is assessed in terms of frequency,
peak-to-peak amplitudes of displacement, and either root mean
square (RMS) values or zero-to-peak values for velocity or
acceleration.

zero-to-peak
amplitude

In reference to a waveform that traces a periodically varying


quantity, the maximum amplitude occurring during a half cycle.
On an X/Y graph, it is represented as a vertical line from the
horizontal zero reference line to either the positive or negative
peak of the waveform. Often used to quantify amplitudes of
velocity and acceleration of vibration.

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