Running safer screw compressors with better monitoring

If you are running a facility with ammonia compressors, you probably already know that there is a lot on the line. A leak of ammonia can endanger the lives of workers and lead to hefty fines from OSHA and the EPA. These can literally put companies out of business.

While this has always been the case, recently there have been reports of the EPA stepping up enforcement and fine amounts. In one recent report from EPA, they have levied 8.6 million in fines to 9 facilities that have had ammonia leaks since 2012.

Regular maintenance has always been a part of owning these units, testing equipment with regularly scheduled downtime including overhauls. These screw compressors are also often checked out with vibration readings as a part of scheduled predictive maintenance . The problem is that even with regular maintenance, these units can still fail on you.

Moving to constant monitoring has a few benefits. The first being that you can simply sidestep having to have a technician go from machine to machine taking readings. Having the machine hooked up to a monitoring program will eliminate human error in both sensor placement and data logging.

Specific to screw compressors, even if you are able to take vibration readings from the machine in question several times per year, you are not getting all the information. This type of vibration analysis typically ignores slide position, load and a host of other factors that may make it so you are not comparing apples to apples.

Knowing that the vibration signature has changed is not as good as knowing when it is changing. There is a big difference here. Know that is has changed may alert you to a problem, but not always. A better system can monitor the status of the machine and indicate when the vibration is changing, such as under load from the slide or from high temperature.

Related Links:

Anhydrous Ammonia at Refrigeration Facilities Under Scrutiny by EPA – Process Cooling

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