Advanced Machinery Analysis Solutions

by SUMICO Technologies

Advanced performance and condition
analysis of reciprocating engines,
compressors and gas pipelines
March 2017

Executive Summary

This paper refers to a detailed study conducted in March 2017
by SUMICO Technologies to evaluate the mechanical
performance and condition of critical reciprocating engines,
compressors and associated pipelines using state-of-the-art
technologies at a natural gas booster station in Mari Gas Field
(Sindh, Pakistan).

Results of the study revealed various hidden areas requiring
attention to increase efficiency, reduce operational costs and
increase reliability of the plant. This paper describes the
technologies used, performance parameters analysed,
some interesting findings and the benefits gained through the

Background and disassemble compressor sets and their auxiliaries to
inspect their internal conditions. Condition Monitoring
activities were therefore in place, however they only involved
The gas compressor station is run by seven identical
vibration analysis and infrared thermography techniques. As
compressor sets (GE Ajax model DPC-2804) connected in
the mechanical behaviour of reciprocating machinery is more
parallel to boost natural gas for fertilizer production. As the
complex than rotating machinery, additional analysis
station is critical for manufacturing process’ reliability, it is
techniques were recommended for their better health
essential to regularly monitor compressor’s health to get early
warning of any developing faults and avoid catastrophic
failures. It is not commercially feasible to repeatedly shutdown
Study overview Analysis examples

SUMICO’s engineers collected data from each of the seven 1. Identified piston ring leakage
compressor sets and adjacent pipelines while they were
operational using Windrock™ PA 6320 and Emerson CSI 2140 Image 1A shows ultrasound data measured initially from the
analyzers. The data types collected included dynamic four cylinders of engine no. 1. The pattern revealed that in
pressures, vibration, ultrasound, spark voltage and cylinder no. 2 (red) there were momentary high levels of
temperatures, each measured simultaneously with the ultrasound (highlighted by black circle), occurring every time
dynamic crankshaft position data. the crankshaft had rotated 45° after passing cylinder’s TDC
(Top Dead Centre) which are symptoms of gas leakage through
piston rings. Furthermore, the P-V (Pressure vs. Volume) curve
(image 2A) of cylinder no. 2 showed a high rate of pressure drop
after achieving the peak firing pressure. After analysis of the
data, SUMICO’s engineers recommended to inspect the piston

Image 1A – Ultrasonic patterns of engine cylinders (initial)
When the engine cylinder was later opened by plant
The technologies provided by SUMICO, allowed recording maintenance team, piston rings of cylinder no. 2 were found to
faster than 50,000 data points per second from each sensor be broken (image 1B).
point. In that way, every performance parameter’s dynamic
behaviour could be thoroughly studied with reference to the
compressor’s dynamic crankshaft position.

3D computer models were also designed by SUMICO’s
engineers for all compressor sets and the measured vibration
data was input to analyse ODS (Operational Deflection Shape)
of the discharge pipelines which had been subject to high
Image 1B – Broken piston ring from engine #1, cylinder #2
After the piston rings were repaired, data retaken showed
significant improvements (image 1C).

Image 1C – Ultrasonic patterns of engine cylinders (after repair)

ODS (Operational Deflection Shape) computer model Leaving such an abnormality undetected could have continued
to waste fuel through the leakage. Moreover, the fault could
have further worsened over time and if any debris from broken
SUMICO’s engineers then analysed the recorded data using ring interacted with internal moving parts, it could have
specialized computer software through various types of charts; ultimately caused catastrophic failure of the engine and
PV (Pressure-Volume) curves, ultrasonic waveforms, spark unscheduled downtime which would be very costly.
traces, vibration FFT spectra and vibration waveforms, to name
a few.
2. Identified abnormal spark plug timings data retaken after repair showed significant improvement in
the vibration waveforms and spectra (Image 3D).
P-V curves (Cylinder Pressure vs. Volume) of engine no. 1
showed that cylinder no. 3 and 4 were experiencing improper
ignition and low PFP (peak firing pressure) values. The 1St
derivative of Pressure-Time curves of cylinder no. 3 showed
inconsistent firing from cycle to cycle (image 2B). It was
therefore recommended to replace spark plugs.

Image 3C – Eroded inner race of compressor set #1, crankshaft
main bearing #2

Image 2A – P-V curves (Cylinder pressure vs. Volume) before repair

Image 3D – Main bearings vibration vs crankshaft angle
Inconsistent pressure rise from cycle to
cycle during ignition period

4. Compression efficiency evaluation
The collected data also allowed performance evaluation of
Image 2B – P-T (Cylinder Pressure vs. Crankshaft angle) and dP/dT every compressor cylinder individually through P-V (Pressure vs.
(1st derivative) curves of multiple cycles overlapped for comparison Volume) curves. As the example shows in image 4A, the
measured PV curve was compared with an ideal performance
After spark plugs were changed, the behaviour of cylinder curve (dashed) according to the cylinder’s dimensions. The area
pressures improved significantly (image 2C) which resulted in of difference was highlighted by shaded area to easily visualize
great improvement in engine performance and efficiency. the energy losses within every cylinder individually.

Measured PV curve
Ideal PV curve

Image 4A – Pressure-Volume curve of compressor cylinder
Image 2C – P-V curves (Cylinder pressure vs. Volume) after repair
5. Identified locations requiring additional piping supports
3. Identified damaged crankshaft bearings
Some pipe sections had been experiencing excessive vibration
but the causes were unknown before the study was conducted.
Analysis of vibration data in crankshaft angle domain showed
Taking compressor set 1 as an example, by collecting vibration
abnormal patterns of crankshaft bearing no. 2 on compressor
set 1 with a transient appearing once per revolution. at the discharge pipeline and analysis through frequency
domain (spectrum) it was found that vibration was highest at
20 Hz (image 5A) which was 3X compressor running speed
when operating at 400 rpm.
Dominant vibration at 1200 rpm
(20 Hz) = (3 X crankshaft speed)

Image 3B – Main bearings vibration vs crankshaft angle Image 5A – Compressor #1 discharge piping vibration spectrum
When the bearing was later disassembled for inspection, it
was found to be damaged at the inner race (Image 3C). The

Updated 09.06.2017
flow of gases from the main discharge header towards the
compressor. The test results together with the
recommendations acted as evidences to help plant teams
justify the modification actions required.

Image 5B – Compressor #1 discharge piping pressure curve
Findings summarized
Vibration bump test conducted on the pipeline showed that
no natural frequencies existed near 20 Hz which confirmed Along with the few examples described in detail, a number of
that the issue was not related to structural resonance. By beneficial findings were made through the study:
further analysis through ODS (image 5C) and the
 Engine cylinders with early combustion, late combustion
compressor’s discharge pressure data plotted against
and peak firing pressure instabilities were identified
compressor’s crankshaft angle (image 5B), it became clear
that the 20 Hz vibration was mainly caused by compressor’s  Cylinder valve leakages and lash issues were identified
pressure pulsation and the back and forth gas flow occurring  Engine and compressor efficiency benchmarks were
between NRV (Non-Return Valve) downstream of compressor established for future comparison
set #1 and the main discharge header.  Compressor skid and piping vibrations were compared
against API 618 standards and benchmarks were
Existing NRV New NRV established for future comparison
location location  Engine cylinders with poor performance were identified
and engine balancing requirements were determined
To main
discharge accordingly
header  Requirements for modifying piping supports were
determined to reduce vibration significantly
 Engine spark plugs which were causing improper
Piping section with ignition were identified
excessive vibration  Identified bearing faults of compressor crankshafts,
cooler fans, lubrication oil pumps and hydraulic pumps
Image 5C – ODS (Operational Deflection Shape) of existing piping
 Identified gear mesh problems of lubrication oil pumps

The findings helped identify key areas to reduce operational
costs and increase reliability of the plant. As shown through
New NRV location
examples, the study not only helped increase plant efficiency
suggested and performance by identifying poor performance areas, but
also helped identify faults which could have further
progressed if left undetected, leading to catastrophic failures
and unplanned downtimes. For equipment with normal
Location suggested for
additional pipe support performance, the result reports provided by SUMICO would
be useful for future comparison in case of performance
deviations and would also help in any future fault
Image 5D – Piping modifications recommended investigation for the plant engineers.
Based on the analysis, it was recommended to add
additional piping support and change location of the existing
NRV as shown in image 5D so that it can prevent any reverse

The Advanced Machinery Analysis division of SUMICO Technologies is the leading provider in Pakistan of critical machine health
analysis including gas turbines, steam turbines, reciprocating engines and reciprocating compressors using in house state-of-the-
art technologies and a strong team of internationally trained engineers.
SUMICO has personnel certified in Reciprocating Compressors and Engines Analysis Advanced Machinery Analysis Solutions
from Windrock Inc. Knoxville, TN, USA. In addition, there are ISO-18436-2 certified
vibration analysts up to Category III certified by Mobius Institute, Australia who can
be deployed anytime to your plant for analysing health of your critical machinery.

185/J-1, M.A. Johar Town, E-24, Block-A, Railway Society, No. 307, Main Margala Road, F-11/3
Lahore, Pakistan Gulshan-e-jamal, Karachi, Pakistan Islamabad, Pakistan
Tel: +92 42 35315541 Tel: +92 21 34682766 Tel: +92 51 2225472
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