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Copyright 2012, Brazilian Petroleum, Gas and Biofuels Institute - IBP
This Technical Paper was prepared for presentation at the Rio Oi & Gas Expo and Conference 2012, held between September, 1720, 2012, in Rio de Janeiro. This Technical Paper was selected for presentation by the Technical Committee of the event according to the information contained in the final paper submitted by the author(s). The organizers are not supposed to translate or correct the submitted papers. The material as it is presented, does not necessarily represent Brazilian Petroleum, Gas and Biofuels Institute’ opinion, or that of its Members or Representatives. Authors consent to the publication of this Technical Paper in the Rio Oil & Gas Expo and Conference 2012 Proceedings.

Growing demands on reciprocating compressors (recips) in the process gas industry require particular solutions for machinery protection and performance monitoring systems. Compared to rotating equipment, monitoring systems for recips have to consider the special mechanical and physical characteristics, such as oscillating masses, variable vibration behaviour and varying operating conditions. Furthermore, they provide valuable information about the performance of cylinder related components allowing the operator the optimization of efficiency and availability, and therefore increase production.

1. Reciprocating Compressors Require Dedicated Analysis Methods for Machinery Protection
1.1. Comparison Between Rotating and Reciprocating Machinery For many years the same types of systems and techniques have been applied for monitoring of reciprocating compressor as for purely rotating machines. Thus the specific physical behaviour of reciprocating compressors was not properly addressed. As a consequence, the information provided was relatively poor. Wear and component failures were not detected reliably. The alarm limits for vibrations signals were set very high to prevent nuisance alarms, becoming ineffective in indicating problems in an early stage. It is essential to have dedicated real time monitoring and machinery protection in order to achieve highest accuracy in failure detection, root cause analysis, and performance monitoring. Turbo machines operate at speeds of thousands, or tens of thousands, of revolutions per minute. Their vibration patterns when in good condition are stable over millions of cycles with amplitudes only changing slowly over time. The identification of a problem is usually done by peak to peak or RMS (root mean square) monitoring or by frequency spectra analysis. Figure 1 shows the typical stable vibration behavior of turbo machinery. On the left side an increase of the acceleration peaks [m/s²] is displayed as a function of degree crank angle, while on the right side the RMS value [m²/s] is constantly rising to the shutdown threshold

____________________ 1 Industrial Engineer, MC&S Sales Support LATAM Area - HOERBIGER VENTILWERKE 2 Industrial Engineer, MC&S Sales Support Leader - HOERBIGER VENTILWERKE 3 Chemical Engineer, General Manager - HOERBIGER do BRASIL

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Figure 1: Typical vibration characteristics of turbo machinery. Reciprocating machines are much harder to monitor effectively. They are operated at low running speeds and the vibration signal changes significantly within every revolution, even when the machine is operating in a healthy condition. The opening and closing of suction and discharge compressor valves, changes in the rod load force between compression and tension, clearances in crosshead and the inertia forces of the oscillating masses all lead to vibration signals that vary significantly over each revolution. If the vibration readings of a compressor in good condition are displayed over 360°crank angle there are areas with low vibration levels and other areas with relatively high vibration values. Suction and discharge valve impacts during the opening and closing events, as well as rod load force reversals, create vibration peaks. Changes in the operating conditions, use of capacity control systems, malfunction of components in the cylinder (e.g. defective sealing elements), as well as problems like cylinder over-lubrication or cylinder valves clogged by debris, have a major impact on the vibration pattern.

Figure 2: Typical pressure and vibration signatures for a recip compressor cylinder.


Rio Oil & Gas Expo and Conference 2012 Figure 2 shows the indicated cylinder pressure on head-end (HE) and crank-end (CE) sides of a double acting cylinder. Also, the corresponding vibrations caused by the opening and closing impacts of the suction and discharge valves are marked. The measurement is shown over 360° crank angle. 1.2. Phased Vibration Monitoring for Earliest Possible Failure Detection Beside the high frequency vibration peaks caused by the operation of the cylinder valves, mechanical looseness can be detected by looking at other changes or abnormalities in the vibration behavior. These problems are mainly related to the parts moving forwards and backwards over a revolution, such as crosshead, piston rod and piston. Indications of loose connections often appear as emerging vibration peaks in areas of the cyclic vibration characteristic where normally, the vibrations should be low when compared with other phases of the complete cycle. Traditional techniques, as monitoring of ‘peak to peak’ or RMS values, will fail if we want to detect such situations at an early stage, or they will remain undetected. Why?: Limits are normally set at a higher level to skip nuisance alarms caused by those events that normally lead to peaks with an amplitude higher than normal although the compressor is in good conditions. That’s the reason why that method acts as ‘blind’.

Figure 3: Recip compressor vibration signatures showing the development of a problem. Figure 3 shows a growing loose connection, with a new and high vibration peak as an evidence. Due to the extended alarm thresholds, which are primarily adjusted to ignore the normally occurring amplitude peaks, the problem can degenerate into a serious situation before it triggers an alarm or shutdown. Therefore, it is not possible to prevent major damages and subsequent production losses. A more sophisticated method is required to face such problems. Phased vibration monitoring means that the acceleration signal is taken over a complete revolution in real time and is synchronized to the crank angle position, enabling the configuration of individual limits for each degree of crank rotation.

Figure 4: Recip compressor vibration signatures with phase referenced alarm limits. The same problem is now shown with phase referenced limits (Figure 4). With high resolution alarm bands (as fine as 1° crank angle) it is possible to detect emerging problems immediately and perform a shutdown before a major damage occurs (right picture). The alarm curves are enveloping the vibration profile, enabling detection of arising peaks in areas of inherently low vibration levels. The finer the alarm limits, the more flexible is the threshold configuration. 3

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1.3. Vibration Alarming Based on Operating Conditions Reciprocating compressors are often used under varying operating conditions. Alternate suction or discharge pressure, changing capacity or gas composition as well as variable rotating speeds are of great importance on the vibration signature variation. It is mainly influenced in two ways: • The position of the vibration amplitudes are moved along the crank angle (for instance by using capacity control equipment, as shown in figure 5). Higher vibration peaks due to the amplification of a mechanical event during a regular working cycle (e.g. caused by higher running speed or pressure ratio increase resulting in higher valve impacts).

Figure 5: Effect of capacity change on pressure and vibration signatures.

Figure 6: Maximum vibration envelope and assigned alarm limits. In order to adapt the alarm limits, the monitoring and machinery protection system requires a feedback to identify the actual operating condition. I can be done by using an analogue output signal (e.g.: 4..20mA), sent from a Distributed Control System (DCS) or from a Programmable Loop Controller (PLC), to the monitoring system. In most cases this signal, called limit selector, can be derived from suction or discharge pressure, or the load condition of the compressor. 4

Rio Oil & Gas Expo and Conference 2012 Depending on the actual value of the limit selector signal, an assigned set of alarm limits is automatically activated inside the monitoring system. These alarm sets are defined during a so called learning period, when the machine is in good and healthy condition. Within this learning period all relevant vibration peaks are stored within a “maximum envelope curve” allowing a precise adjustment of the alarm envelopes (Figure 6). 1.4. Safety Integrity Level Requirements for a Machinery Protection System Another very important issue regarding machinery protection equipment is the requirement for SIL (Safety Integrity Level) certification according to IEC61508/61511. The IEC61508/61511 is a generic standard, for manufacturers and suppliers, of functional safety of electrical/electronic or programmable safety related systems. Briefly said, IEC61508/61511 guarantees a certain level of reliability of safety related protection systems. Furthermore, it certifies that measures for system fault avoidance have been considered during the development process, and that integrated safety functions for system fault avoidance and detection are incorporated. However, IEC61508 does not assess the vibration monitoring technology or the algorithms themselves. Even a high rated SIL system may miss critical events or failures, due to the fact that it might not be initially designed for a specific type of machine, for example, a reciprocating compressor. A SIL rated system is only as reliable as the weakest link in the safety chain, meaning that even with, for example, SIL 2 certification of the data acquisition hardware, the probability of a failure might be limited due to a poorly performing sensor, or any other component. It is the duty of the operating company to evaluate the risk of the application and process, and to define the required safety integrity level. This evaluation is done during HAZOP or LOPA studies with the involvement of the operating company, the engineering company, the licensor, consultants and machinery manufacturers. In general, a safety integrity level of SIL1 is appropriate for reciprocating process gas compressors. The example below shows the risk assessment and the corresponding SIL classification for a process gas compressor according to the risk graph defined in IEC61508/61511: Initial Situation: Reciprocating compressor, hydrogen service, 2 stages, standard horizontal design (API 618), operating in a process industry or refinery. HAZOP Definition (Hazardous Operation): Based on the situation, experts concerning safety, operation, mechanical and chemical issues are required to asses the compressor operation and possible failures and consequences. For Reciprocating Compressor Two General HAZOP Conditions should be Defined: • Minor mechanical failures/damages without risk exposure to personnel and environment, happening about once every two years. • Major mechanical failure/damages and gas leakage typically occurring once in the lifetime of a reciprocating compressor (e.g.: once in 30 years / worst case scenario).

Figure 7: Graph used for assessment of risk according to IEC 61508-5 / IEC 61511-3. 5

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Figure 7 shows the risk graph used for classification of the previously mentioned failure types. As a result SIL1 would be required in both cases.

2. Performance Monitoring for Reciprocating Compressors
Performance monitoring increases the reliability and maximizes the efficiency of a reciprocating compressor. By monitoring the gas pressure in the cylinder (indicated pressure), damage to cylinder related components, such as valves, piston rings and packings can easily be pointed out. Additionally, piston rod load and rod load reversal at the crosshead wristpin are continuously monitored in order to ensure adequate lubrication. Together with vibration and piston rod position measurements, the necessary information can be gained to plan maintenance or repair work accurately and in time. Furthermore it allows the condition of cylinder components to be continuously assessed and provides valuable data for engineering reviews or performance studies. 2.1 Indicated Pressure Measurement The indicated pressure diagram is displayed either as a pT- (pressure vs. time) or as a pV-diagram (pressure vs. volume):

Figure 8: ‘Pressure vs Time’ and ‘Pressure vs Volume’ graphs for a double acting recip compressor. The graph on the left in Figure 8 shows the indicated pressure readings from a two stage, double acting compressor displayed as a pT diagram, while the right graph shows a single stage pV plot. By comparing those diagrams either with historical data or with theoretical pV curves, compressor performance can be accurately analyzed at any time. Especially for cylinder valves, cylinder rings and control equipment, the indicated pressure measurement is a unique tool for failure diagnosis, as shown in the next example:

Figure 9: Pressure vs Time traces indicating suction valve problems. 6

Rio Oil & Gas Expo and Conference 2012 The diagram in Figure 9 shows a comparison of a head end (HE) and crank end (CE) pT graph to a previous measurement, which was stored as reference state. The slower compression on the HE side indicates a leaking suction valve. During compression gas is displaced through the breakage of the valve plate, while during expansion the high pressure gas from the cylinder leaks back to the suction plenum, causing a faster expansion line.

Figure 10: Pressure vs Volume traces indicating piston ring leakage.

Figure 11: ‘Pressure vs Volume’ traces illustrating correct operation of capacity control. The capacity control system can be checked for functionality as shown in figure 11. The comparison of these pV traces shows two load conditions of the compressor at slightly different discharge pressures. In this case the capacity control system works properly. Both cylinder ends are loaded equally and expansion curves run parallel. The shifted compression curves show the respective load conditions.


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Figure 12: ‘Pressure vs Volume’ traces showing typical indications of over-lubrication of cylinder valves. Over lubrication is often the root cause of reduced valve life and compressor performance losses. Excessive oil leads to late closing of suction and discharge valves. In the diagram shown in figure 12 the head end discharge valve does not close at the top dead centre position (TDC) due to the stiction effect. Gas is streaming back into the cylinder resulting in reduced capacity of the compressor. Furthermore, late closing is creating high impact speeds within the valve. Modern valves can be designed to be less affected by over-lubrication. 2.2 Rod Load Monitoring Another powerful tool, mainly used for machinery protection, is rod load analysis. The rod-load force is calculated from the measured indicated pressure and the calculated inertia force of the oscillating masses.(see figure 13 where the calculated rod load force is shown overlaid on a pressure/vibration vs time graph)

Figure 13: Typical Rod Load vs Time graph for double acting recip compressor cylinder According to API618, or the guidelines of the compressor manufacturer, two important parameters described below have to be monitored. In the event that the limits are exceeded, the compressor has to be stopped in order to prevent damage to the crosshead-piston rod assembly. • Maximum Rod Load Force: to monitor the maximum tension and compression forces to avoid overloading of piston rod or crosshead/connecting rod assemblies. 8

Rio Oil & Gas Expo and Conference 2012 • Minimum Load Reversal: to monitor the reversal period and ratio of tension and compression forces, hence ensuring the correct lubrication of the crosshead pin

Since the rod load force is essentially influenced by the gas pressure inside the cylinder, major valve damage, or operating conditions deviating from design, may result in a loss of correct crosshead lubrication and consequent substantial damage. During normal operation, alternating tension and compression forces ensure adequate crosshead-pin lubrication. The changing direction of force causes the pin to move within the bushing, allowing the oil to flow around both sides of the pin.

Figure 14: Graphs illustrating conditions leading to acceptable and unacceptable piston rod load reversal Figure 14 shows, on the left side, pressure vs time and the corresponding road load vs time relationships for normal operation with acceptable rod load reversal. On the right hand side similar traces show an alarm condition where rod load reversal is inadequate. In this example, due to a badly damaged discharge valve, discharge pressure is constantly acting on the head end side of the piston, resulting in high gas forces pushing the piston rod entirely towards the crankcase (compression force). If the compressor is not stopped within minutes (or even seconds), terminal failures may lead to long downtime and production losses, or in the worst case personnel injury may result.

3. Reciprocating Compressor Monitoring and Protection - Conclusions
Due to their working principle and the combination between rotating and oscillating movement, reciprocating compressors require dedicated monitoring and protection systems. Such systems enable the operator to precisely plan maintenance and repair work, since the condition of the machine can be assessed at any time. Based on phased vibration monitoring, measured and processed in real time, accurate and reliable alarm limits can be implemented to protect the compressor from serious damage. Changes in operating conditions can be identified and corresponding alarm limits automatically adjusted. The compressor can, therefore, be safely stopped and excessive downtime due to major repair work can be avoided. A correct application of IEC61508/61511 and their Safety Integrity Level (SIL) is important because overengineered systems are cost intensive and not required for recips used in the process gas industry. For machinery protection systems on reciprocating compressors, SIL1 is sufficient.


Rio Oil & Gas Expo and Conference 2012 Further, indicator pressure monitoring provides important parameters supporting root cause analysis. Damage or degradation of cylinder related components can be detected by pV or pT monitoring. Rod load forces can be calculated in order to monitor the maximum rod load forces and minimum rod load reversal. Performance monitoring and adequate machinery protection on reciprocating compressor definitely supports maintenance decisions and helps assessing and protecting critical components. Repair work can be planned, and spare parts can be organized, but the most importantly: downtime can be reduced with the resulting increased production.