Because of my many years of experience in the field of installation and maintenance of rotating equipment I can say that installation is a fundamental thing. But why is this phase so important?
Well, because the installation has direct impact on the machinery, and it will determine operating conditions, performance, and life cycle cost. Basically, the way you install your rotating equipment is the way it will perform. And personally, I always ask myself why companies buy million-dollar pieces of equipment and let inexperienced installers do the installation. Then, they spend another million dollars in condition monitoring watching them fail.
Don’t get me wrong; condition monitoring is extremely important to understand what is happening to the machines and detect an early failure. But the fact is that most of the failures occur due to poor installation and design. Here, let’s focus on the installation phase of rotating machinery.
What do we expect from our machinery?
- Reliable operation – We expect our rotating equipment to deliver its intended purpose or service without failure.
- High performance – We expect our equipment to perform as per design.
- Long service life – If our equipment has been designed for 20 or 30 years of operation, that is what we want to achieve.
- Low maintenance cost – We expect not to spend any additional money after the investment has been made.
Responsibilities towards the installation
Communication, Procedures, and Integrity. These are responsibilities which are so important in the installation phase. Let me explain:
It is a must to assure proper communication among the Design, Engineering, and Installation teams. We know there are constant challenges to keep the installation work to be on time and within specifications. The teams must have constant communication to be able to solve any difficulties or changes. In the real world not everything fits as it fits on the drawings. I think many of you have experienced this, right?
Installation procedures must be created according to design specifications and every member of the team must be familiar with them. Depending on which industry, the procedures will differ from each other. It is not the same thing to perform installation on the nuclear plant compared to pharmaceutical industry. There should always be a reference to which specific standard belong to the site where the installation is taking place. API Recommended Practices for Machinery Installation and Installation Design (API 686) are the perfect foundation to start with.
Integrity is an important part of the installation phase and it starts with Safety. Everyone who participates in the installation must go through safety training. Specific trainings must be performed such as working in heights, confined spaces, fire protection or chemicals handling. Breaking the safety rules will put the project behind the schedule therefore it is very important to follow them.
Always do things in the right order
The installation of rotating equipment must follow a certain order. The order of the installation procedure is designed to always start from the base. Foundations are the cornerstone of the entire installation. They are designed to hold rotating machinery and transfer and dissipate stresses and dynamic forces produced by pulsations and processes. Therefore, special attention must be paid to the foundations. They must be flat, coplanar, and levelled. If we skip the order of the installation procedures, we will not be able to complete further steps and not achieve reliable operation of our rotating equipment.
Finally, all the work must be properly documented during the process by creating digital reports to be able to review and compare the values and data. This is important for the references because further work will depend on the results.
Senior Reliability Engineer
This article was originally published in MaintWorld Magazine