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March 1, 2021

Motion Amplification®: Keeping the Power Generation Industry Running

Jenna Johns

The number and size of the rotating machines inside almost any given power plant mean that vibration monitoring is of key importance. From traditional fossil fuel plants to wind turbines and hydropower plants, excessive machinery vibration can be equally problematic, as it indicates and leads to equipment and structural imbalance, misalignment, and all matter of other faults that damage facilities and reduce efficiency.

Green Energy, Same Challenges

As green power expands, environmentally friendly power generation machinery can still be prone to similar vibration issues and wear, and reliability is important. Rotating wind turbines, for example, won’t generate any power if they have to be stopped for service.

Motion Amplification® vibration analysis isn’t limited by the size of the object or structure being evaluated, however. Wind turbines can be notoriously difficult to analyze and service due to their sheer size and height, limiting accessibility.

Using a Motion Amplification® camera, fitting a turbine into the camera’s field of view is achievable. Further, wind turbine analysis can be made difficult by the constantly changing wind conditions, which affects the load on the blades, shaft, bearings, and other components, making reliable methods of analysis essential.

Hydropower stations are also no stranger to equipment vibration. Shaft vibration, vibration in bearings, turbine cover vibrations, and similar vibration-related concerns must all be checked. Steam turbines frequently experience vibration due to an unbalanced turbine rotor, unbalanced couplings, and even uneven cooling of the turbine rotor.

Turbines and other components of power plants and similar rotating equipment can also experience soft foot, a type of machine frame distortion where one or more feet of the machine is shorter, longer, or angled differently than the rest of the feet, creating an imbalance and causing a wobbling, rocking motion. Such a scenario puts stress on the machine’s structure, leading to high vibration levels, accelerated wear, bearing and seals failure, metal fatigue, and other imperfections.

Because Motion Amplification® analysis can detect and visualize the rocking motion and vibration characteristics of soft foot, it’s a great tool for diagnosing this common problem and getting at the underlying cause and possible solutions.

RDI Technologies Assists Thermal Power Station

At the Loy Yang Power Station, a thermal power station and the largest power plant in Victoria, Australia, engineering staff had been monitoring an increasing vibration in one of the turbogenerator’s fans. Traditional vibration analysis techniques couldn’t pinpoint the root cause of the growing vibration amplitude and noise being generated.

A Motion Amplification® video camera acquired several videos of the problematic component before using RDI’s Motion Amplification® software and algorithms to extract data. The whole process took less than an hour and revealed several structural issues behind the abnormal vibrations. The technology was able to point to coupling wear, bearing housing and frame pedestal bolt looseness, and various cracked welds as the root causes.

After rectifying these issues, the fan returned to service with a 70 percent vibration reduction and savings of $70,000 per hour — the rate of loss that was avoided thanks to timely analysis and repairs.

Keeping Watch with Motion Amplification®

The complex equipment of the power generation industry needs to be reliable and regularly monitored. In terms of vibration analysis, troubleshooting complex structures and equipment that’s not easily affixed with sensors is a perfect job for RDI’s Motion Amplification® technology and Iris™ platform.

Since almost all types of power generation machinery and infrastructure are prone to vibration, we can partner with your facility to dig deeper into predictive maintenance measures and to assess problems and faults before they lead to failures. Contact us to learn more about RDI’s patented technology and Motion Amplification® solutions.

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Additionally, Motion Amplification® can be an important resource for any facility’s reliability program. Here, we’ve listed just some of the ways in our eBook: How Motion Amplification® Fits into a Reliability Program [Link to premium content offering]

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