Wireless condition monitoring to reduce maintenance resources in the Escravos–Gas–To–Liquids plant, Nigeria
Obiora, Obinna Chukwuemeka
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The purpose of this research is to reduce maintenance resources and improve Escravos–Gas–to–Liquids plant availability (EGTL) in Escravos, Nigeria using wireless condition monitoring. Secondary to the above is to justify the use of this technology over other conventional condition monitoring methods in petrochemical plants with specific reference to cost, reliability and security of the system. Wireless and continuous condition monitoring provides the means to evaluate current conditions of equipment and detect abnormalities. It allows for corrective measures to be taken to prevent upcoming failures. Continuous monitoring and event recording provides information on the energized equipment's response to normal and emergency conditions. Wireless/remote monitoring helps to coordinate equipment specifications and ratings, determine the real limits of the monitored equipment and optimize facility operations. Bentley N, (2005). Using wireless techniques eliminate any need for special cables and wires with lower installation costs if compared to other types of condition monitoring systems. In addition to this, wireless condition monitoring works well under difficult conditions in strategically important locations. The Escravos gas–to–liquid plant in Nigeria, located in a remote and offshore area where accommodation and space for offices is a factor for monitoring plant conditions in every office, is a typical example. Wireless technology for condition monitoring of energized equipment is applicable to both standalone and remote systems. In the research work of Meyer and Brambley (2002), they characterized the current problem with regards to cost effectiveness and availability of wireless condition monitoring. Maintenance of rotating equipment provides probability estimates of the total impact of the problem, cost implication of plant equipment maintenance and describes a generic system in which these developing technologies are used to provide real–time wireless/remote condition monitoring for rotating main air compressor (MAC) units and their components as a case study. Costs with today’s technology are provided and future costs are estimated, showing that benefits will greatly exceed costs in many cases, particularly if low–cost wireless monitoring is used. With management trends such as “re–engineering” and “downsizing” of the available workforce, wireless condition–monitoring of critical machines has been given more importance as a way to ensure quality production with fewer personnel. Wireless condition–monitoring using inexpensive wireless communication technology frees up existing plant maintenance personnel work on machines that are signaling problems and focusing the maintenance efforts away from attempting to work on a large population of machines to only those machines requiring immediate attention. Lloyd and Buddy (200) suggested that Point–to–point wireless data transmission systems, an excellent example of recent technological advances in communication systems, are now practical and cost–effective for industrial use. While both complex infrastructures and complex protocols are required for cellular communications, non– cellular communication systems, such as the point–to–point wireless data transmission system example, require no elaborate infrastructure. Limited research was done on the immediate benefits of implementing wireless condition monitoring systems in plants. All papers on the subject have been drawn up by manufacturers of such equipment. This research will thus also deliver a "third–party" perspective on the effectiveness of such devices, justifying their impact on data gathering security, cost and reliability.
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