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Sellicks Hill Pump Station

Condition monitoring team saves the day

A routine inspection using smart technology by our reliability and conditioning monitoring team within SA Water’s specialist business unit Water Engineering Technologies averted the failure of one of its assets at the Sellicks Hill pump station.

In past practices – before the invention of smart technology – visual or audible inspections of assets, or the simple refurbishment or replacement of components at fixed time intervals kept assets safe and reliable. The team now use sophisticated technology to accurately gain insight into an asset’s health to reduce breakdowns and maintain costs.

The 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, would 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 us needing to refurbish or even replace the pump at high cost.

“The wonderful thing about our condition-based maintenance programs is that we have replaced the traditional visual and audible inspections of assets with the use of portable analysers,” Stephen said.

"These have enabled us to make really 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 helped changed the way we do things.

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

"As a result of our use of smart condition monitoring technology, we now have a much better understanding about why these assets wear out, how they behave, why they fail, and the ways in which they respond to various operating conditions and environments."

Damaged bearing

Damaged bearing

Timothy Tomo using portable vibration sensor analyser

Timothy Tomo using a portable vibration sensor analyser