Digitally Enabled Compressor Monitoring & Controls Empower Operators for the Better

By Tim Shea

Category:
Industry Trends

Over the last few years, ARC has been blogging and writing about how Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)-enabled solutions can provide real business and operational value across many different industries, products and solutions.  However, we believe that IIoT-enabled rotating equipment, such as compressors, turbines and pumps, represent the “lowest hanging fruit” for operators and end users for which them to benefit from the most.  To further test this hypothesis, ARC recently completed a market analysis report on compressor monitoring & controls covering axial, centrifugal, reciprocating and rotary system types. 

Compressor Monitoring & Controls Increase Operational Efficiencies

Compressor monitoring & controls solutions are increasingly being updated with new features to fulfill many market demands and increase their value proposition, such as the growing demand for smart connected products based on, for example, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).  Smart connected compressors provide opportunities to increase operational efficiency from the plant floor (or the platform) to the supply chain by optimizing data, information, and analytics ranging.

Data gathering and communication capabilities via standard networking technologies are built-in features of some compressor monitoring & controls solutions.  With IIoT, smart compressors could considerably improve industrial processes, driving the use of more automation.  In addition, IIoT offers opportunities to apply new kinds of business models that will promote growth.  Compressor monitoring & controls suppliers may start selling contract compression services if they also offer compressors or they could partner with compressor manufacturers or packagers to offer remote monitoring and control services for a monthly or yearly fee.

Digital Compressor Monitoring & Controls Help Improve Uptime and Availability of Compressor

IIoT-enabled monitoring and control solutions may be used, for example, to help improve the performance and uptime of compressors in conjunction with engines or AC drives, which control this type of equipment and play an important role in business profitability for industries, such as oil & gas, mining, refining, electric power generation, and chemicals.  As the shift to LNG from oil grows and demand for natural gas as the “bridge fuel” in the future, the need for compression will only increase.  Compressors used in these industries are often custom-engineered systems in which the drivetrains are rated in power capacities from few hundred kilowatts to over 20,000 kW.  Such turbomachinery has become more critical as they are used to produce and process raw materials.  Consequently, downstream manufacturing operations have become increasingly dependent upon the performance and availability of these compressors.  To increase the availability of compressors, monitoring & controls providers need to incorporate technological innovations, such as IIoT, to help these compressors run reliably, better optimize load control, and operate closer to their maximum designed performance or surge line in the case of a centrifugal compressor.

Future Innovations Are Focusing on Enabling Predictive and Prescriptive Information

Continuing innovations in sensor instrumentation, embedded advanced control algorithms, and predictive condition monitoring are all critical to the future of the smarter compressor monitoring & controls that will become integrated within the emerging IIoT infrastructure.  It is interesting to note that some users are starting to demand that compressor monitoring & controls solutions must be ready for an IIoT ecosystem.  However, a few have not figured out the full benefit of it.  At present, most of these end users will demand this requirement from suppliers because they feel that they would be “future proof.”  The growing adoption of cloud-based and edge-based solutions that enable remote monitoring and controls will only help spur greater adoption in compressor optimization solutions that not only optimize compressor performance but also help improve overall process operations for which the compressor plays an integral role.  During these uncertain and challenging political and economic times, end users and owner-operators are increasingly looking for solutions that help lower costs, improve production, increase employee productivity, and improve profitability; digitally enabled compressor monitoring & controls that leverage artificial intelligence/machine learning, enhanced communications and software that enables greater flexibility, scalability and agility in operations can go a long way towards realizing operational excellence.

compressor monitoring & controls

ARC’s Compressor Monitoring & Controls report is available for consideration today.  I certainly welcome the opportunity to learn about your compressor challenges, issues, and/or solutions therein that have helped improve your operational performance; so feel free to contact me at tshea@arcweb.com.

 

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