Solution Spotlight: Thumbs Up For Better Recip Reliability

Kathy | June 1, 2008


An active reliability program for reciprocating machinery, based on proven dynamic monitoring and analysis techniques, enables meaningful asset protection, mechanical condition monitoring and economic performance assessment. According to Windrock, Inc., end users of the large reciprocating compressors and engines used in natural gas gathering and storage, gas transmission, oil refi ning and petrochemical manufacturing can achieve signifi cant cost advantages by adopting an appropriate reciprocating machinery reliability program that will reduce downtime, eliminate unnecessary maintenance and maximize unit operating effi ciencies and production capacity.

As corporate management mandates of plant and fi eld capacity increase, the criticality of individual reciprocating compressors and engines is increased. A comprehensive reliability program for these machines is essential to meet these increased production demands. Monitoring of static operating data alone is no longer suffi cient. Dynamic measurement and analysis of the compression and combustion processes in engines and compressors is necessary to provide information to properly monitor and diagnose reciprocating machine problems and assess machine mechanical condition and performance.

Windrock manufactures portable and online monitoring systems for reciprocating compressors and engines utilizing patented technology to turn dynamic data into easily interpreted information. On compressor and engine cylinders, dynamic pressure measurements—referenced to each degree of crankshaft rotation—are converted into pressure measurements referenced to the precise displacement of a reciprocating machine’s piston throughout its entire stroke. In doing so, the cylinder’s Pressure-Volume curve can be automatically analyzed. Moreover, the Windrock systems can provide alarms and automated diagnosis of compressor problems such as leaking valves, leaking rings, leaking packing, overloading of piston rods and the dangerous lack of piston rod load reversal. Other dynamic measurements include crosshead and cylinder vibration, piston rod drop and runout.


On engines, dynamic pressure measurement allows statistical comparison of power cylinder peak fi ring pressures to detect early, late or incomplete combustion, including the detection of extremely harmful pre-ignition and detonation conditions and also the ability to measure and adjust power cylinder peak pressure balance. Other dynamic measurements include power cylinder vibration, plus primary and secondary ignition measurements.

Utilizing the data collected by portable or online systems, analysts and operators can effectively elect to perform or defer maintenance, depending upon the impact on production. Windrock’s comprehensive On-GuardTM online systems utilize combinations of modules such as Windrock’s patented C-Guard (compressor cylinder pressures, temperatures, vibration and rod drop), V-Guard (API-670 vibration) and E-Guard (Power cylinder pressures). Windrock’s 6310 portable systems are used for detailed and cost-effective analysis of multiple reciprocating compressors, engines and rotating machines.

Windrock systems can be an integral part of a comprehensive, active reliability program for any company that runs reciprocating machinery. The company notes that return on investment (ROI) studies indicate short payback cycles for the systems. MT

Windrock, Inc.
A Dover Company
Knoxville, TN






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