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Innovation in Motion

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Quartzelec has supported the sector in a number of ways for over two decades. Most recently, its expertise has expanded to include condition monitoring. Wireline met with Quartzelec’s Aberdeen Business Unit Manager, Paul Oliver to learn more.

The Quartzelec business in Aberdeen has been supporting many sectors, including the oil and gas industry, for over 20 years. As an independent service provider to the UK and global markets, it has built particular technical authority in the field of rotating electrical machines. Wireline sat down with Aberdeen Business Unit Manager, Paul Oliver, to discuss two new technologies the company is offering the industry.

In the last decade, Quartzelec has increasingly been using its knowledge to focus on evaluating the health of rotating machine assets. The product-specific business of Quartzelec, Quartzteq, has been leveraging its experience in condition monitoring to develop LIFEVIEW®, which provides flexible, modular and versatile on and off-line condition monitoring. The LIFEVIEW® PDA-II is one solution particularly suited to the industry. Often fitted onto high-voltage machinery to specifically monitor partial discharge (PD), the ATEXcertified system offers flexibility, with additional sensors and modules available to monitor other important parameters (measured relative to PD).

A surge in PD can result in earth faults, phase-tophase faults or shorted turns that eventually cause defects that require machine repair or rewind. The LIFEVIEW® PDA II provides a continuous monitoring of a machine’s PD activity, warning operators when a reading is beyond a defined limit. The additional data collected also gives insights into the insulation conditions of the machinery.

Condition monitoring systems ensure critical safety.

“Many of our customers have typically opted for an annual surveillance trip that allows us to establish the current status of many of their high-voltage machines enabling us to take snapshot readings of partial discharge,” Oliver tells Wireline.

From these annual readings, experts at Quartzelec make recommendations based on their analysis of the gathered data. “We can identify equipment trends and if readings start to fluctuate, critical problems can be identified before they manifest themselves. We can then recommend intervention and maintenance can be scheduled,” he explains.

“Traditionally, it can take some time to establish a trend, especially if the ‘check-ups’ only occur annually,” Oliver continues. Quartzelec’s PDA-II system can be retro-fitted onto machines for continuous PD monitoring. “The PDA-II system alleviates the need to mobilise people offshore resulting in huge economic and workforce savings,” he says. Offshore workers can access the system, download data reports and send them remotely to Quartzelec to perform analysis.

“When the LIFEVIEW® system is fitted to critical machines, it offers clients peace of mind, as equipment is being monitored 24/7,” Oliver shares. “Customers will know when an intervention is needed, or in some cases, when they don’t need to intervene even when there is maintenance scheduled. User-friendly easy-to-read results means users can make informed decisions about critical equipment safety which can also result in time and money savings.”

Above: Installed LIFEVIEW® PDA II with readings being taken at a waste management site in Portsmouth.

Condition monitoring systems not only save money but more importantly, they ensure critical safety. “If you get a machine that goes outside specification, it needs to be checked to avoid catastrophic failure,” Oliver explains. “With ongoing monitoring, you can predict what might happen and therefore avoid problems.”

“Intervening before the point of failure is reached allows customers to plan maintenance, manage their uptime much better and be cost effective.”

In 2019, Quartzelec also adopted and introduced a new technology to North Sea customers. Motion Amplification is a video camera and software package that detects and records subtle motion and amplifies it to a level visible with the naked eye.

“This new technology has revolutionised the way the vibration of a machine can be monitored,” Oliver comments. “What the camera allows us to do is observe the entire structure, cables, and the whole machine and see how any vibrations directly impact both the immediate machinery and what knock-on effect it has on surrounding equipment.”

Without using the Motion Amplification technology there is no easy way to monitor all elements of the machine and structure. Pipework failures occur frequently offshore and are mostly due to fatigue resulting from vibration. This technology allows operators to see what is happening and add additional supports where necessary to reduce risk of a failure.

“Preventative maintenance is significantly more effective. The resulting Motion Amplification video shows exactly what is happening inside machinery,” he explains. This new alternative to traditional ways of monitoring vibration is significantly more insightful and helps operators make accurate and appropriate decisions about what subsequent actions should be taken.

In the case of equipment failure, Quartzelec has the capability and expertise to support industry professionals and rectify the problems identified. Oliver adds: “We have a workshop in Aberdeen, which provides support services including the repair and rewind of HV/LV electric motors and generators plus the associated static plant, all backed up by impressive test facilities, access to spares and storage facilities.”

There is a great benefit for oil and gas operators to invest in equipment that allows them to remotely and/or effectively monitor the condition of their
machinery.

“Using either of these technologies individually can have a significant and positive impact on safety, performance and extended reliability. Together they provide significant advantages that make a compelling and cost effective solution that will help the oil and gas sector remain operational, meet future demands and deliver economic benefit to the British economy.”

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