Smart tech solution gains insight into Sellicks Hill pump station

Water Engineering Technologies use of smart technology in a routine inspection has made sure a major water pump station continues to operate safely and reliably and move drinking water to more than 11,000 SA Water customers in Adelaide’s south.

Before the emergence of smart technology, crews relied on visual and audible inspections of assets, or the simple replacement of components at fixed time intervals, to keep SA Water’s assets running. Now, the water utility is using sophisticated technology to accurately gain insight into the health of its assets to ensure ongoing reliability and cost efficiency.

The Water Engineering Technologies team use portable analysers with vibration and temperature sensing capabilities to 'listen' to an asset’s internal condition, much like a doctor uses a stethoscope.

Condition Monitoring Officer Timothy Tomo performed an inspection of a pump at Sellicks Hill using a portable analyser to capture data from sensors attached to the pump. He then imported the data into a program called the Machinery Health Analyser (MHM) to gain insight into the health of the pump, diagnose faults and inform required fixes.

When reviewing the readings in the MHM, Timothy noticed the overall vibration levels within the pump had risen sharply since the last survey, indicating a rapidly deteriorating pump bearing.

Water Engineering Technologies maintenance team sprang into action and after disassembling the pump, identified a damaged bearing and replaced it. The defective bearing, which was spinning at a phenomenal speed in the pump shaft, could have caused pump failure and significant secondary damage.

Lead Condition Monitoring Engineer Stephen Moore said if the team hadn’t identified this fault, it would have resulted in SA Water needing to refurbish or even replace the pump - a similar pump fault at SA Water’s Morgan water pump station resulted in refurbishment costs in excess of $200,000.

“We have replaced traditional visual and audible inspections of assets with portable analysers, and by keeping watch on asset condition parameters, asset health can be readily identified and where possible, rectified,” Stephen said.

"We can now make well-informed decisions about the most appropriate time to repair, rehabilitate or replace an asset before failure can occur."

Senior Manager Maintenance Nima Gorjian Jolfaei said the smart technology has enabled the team to take the guesswork out of asset management.

"We no longer simply refurbish or replace components at fixed time intervals based on the rationale that this will reduce the incidence of faults," Nima said.

"In most cases, this sort of scheduled maintenance was based on manufacturers recommendations, best guesses or a mixture of both, with very little evidence of root causes of actual or potential failures identified.

“Smart condition monitoring technology provides our team with a much better understanding about why assets wear out, how they behave and how they respond to various operating conditions and environments.

“Our advanced maintenance services are significantly increasing asset reliability and performance and reducing our costs.”

Damaged bearing

Damaged bearing

Tim using portable analyser

Timothy Tomo using a portable vibration sensor analyser