Predicting Equipment Failure

by Lewis Debevec, Jr., Asst. Chf. of Operations; Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, Cleveland, OH,
Thomas Smeal, Maintenance Planner; Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, Cleveland, OH,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1987, Vol. 57, Issue 6, Pg. 70-71

Document Type: Feature article


At Cleveland's Westerly Water Pollution Control Center, the physical/chemical plant for treating wastewater is one of the largest of its kind, with 50 mgd average capacity. Such a plant has more motors driving pumps and fans (blowers) than the usual secondary treatment plant; this one has 28 motors of up to 1,700 hp each. Their reliable operation is vital, since EPA can impose fines of up to $10,000 a day for failing to meet the plant's discharge permit. Until recently, the plant had frequent, unexpected equipment failures, but now almost none. The reason is the use of equipment vibration data to predict failure. Repairs are made before failure occurs. Automatic vibration recording equipment was installed, and computer software was written to analyze the data and plot curves showing vibration trends. If a motor, pump or blower fails to meet a certain vibration criterion, the computer printout automatically indicates it and action is taken.

Subject Headings: Vibration | Equipment and machinery | Failure analysis | Pumping stations | Water pollution | Wastewater treatment plants | Pumps | Automation

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