When incorporating ultrasound into your PdM program, consideration must be given to your existing procedures. Questions like what are we going to be inspecting with these ultrasound devices and how frequently? How many test points need to be identified? Will there be routes set up for the plant engineers to follow? Are we implementing a complete equipment condition based monitoring (CBM) program with reports or simply noting areas that need attention? A good implementation strategy needs to be laid out that answers these and other questions. The answers to these types of questions will help guide you to the right quadrant of ultrasound devices to be considered.
If you are going to be implementing an ultrasound CBM program with the intention of creating reports on the overall health of your plant machinery and equipment, you’ll need to ask what data needs to be gathered (leaks, electrical, bearings, valves, injectors, etc.), how is it going to be collected, and what will you do with the data? Ultrasound gives you several options. One can either just note detected problems or abnormalities based on their prior training and experience in differentiating between normal and abnormal for further investigation or repair. Or, with greater objectivity, to physically record ultrasound inspection data for signal analysis, storage for future reference, equipment profiling and comparative analysis. You may also want to be able to playback the ultrasound recorded immediately for real-time interpretation and recording verification, or perhaps later for review purposes and for future training uses. So the question of whether you need recording capability now or potentially later can affect which device you select. You don’t want to be in a position that you would have to buy a different device later to give you that option and capability. A good rule is to check to see if your ultrasound device is upgradeable to include this capability.
Key Factors to Consider: Flight Check Off List
The ten top factors to consider when comparing ultrasound PdM products, listed basically in order of importance, although all the factors are important and need to considered and weighted based on your intended applications and usage not only for today but into the future.
Performance – ability to do the intended applications in your work environment.
Ease of Operation – includes new plant engineer learning curve considerations.
Ruggedness – will it stand up to day-to-day rough handling?
Ergonomics – hand fatigue, 1 or 2 handed operation, weight, etc.
Battery Life – life cycle; if rechargeable, frequency and duration of recharging.
Growth path – separate devices for different applications or multipurpose device?
Recalibration – how often does it need to go back to the factory, if ever? If so, cost?
Management reporting capability – does the IT department need to get involved?
Training – as plant engineers come and go, how hard is it to get up to speed?
Support – where does it come from and how long have they been around?