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Evergy saves with wireless vibration monitoring

Jan. 6, 2023
Wireless week 2022—Day 6: Electric utility deploys 5,000 wireless sensors and vibration monitoring software to track vibrations at its fossil-generation plants

To improve maintenance and efficiency, and reduce costs at the same time, Evergy in Kansas City, Mo., is installing about 5,000 wireless sensors to monitor vibrations at its fossil-generation plants. The utility provides electricity to most of eastern Kansas and western Missouri, and wanted to identify equipment issues early enough to give it an accurate backlog properly planning and scheduling maintenance. This project began with a sensor gap analysis, and is part of a plan Evergy started in 2018 to build a monitoring and diagnostics center.

“We always strive to reduce downtime and move away from time-based activities and toward condition-based maintenance,” says Gabe Stanton, senior monitoring and diagnostics manager at Evergy, who spoke on Oct. 26 at Emerson Exchange Americas 2022 in Grapevine, Texas. “We wanted to identify the sensors that we need to have to fine as many failure mechanisms as possible. We identified four technologies including that we wanted to go after, including vibration monitoring.”

To coordinate and manage its thousands of wireless sensors, Evergy also implemented AMS Wireless Vibration Monitor software from Emerson, which shifted it from time-based monitoring and maintenance to condition-based maintenance. With time-based monitoring some assets only get checked every 60 to 90 days. However, with condition-based monitoring, the automated vibration system tells Evergy’s personnel where and on what equipment maintenance is needed each day. The wireless sensors relay data to AMS Wireless Vibration Monitor via Wireless HART communications protocol, which optimized staff workloads, and saved about $150,000 in risk avoidance compared to indication by previous sensors.

Stanton reports that vibration technicians at Evergy used to support two to four of its plants, but can now support its entire fleet because condition-based monitoring allows them to schedule and work more efficiently. “We also learned that we needed to have a good data governance process, especially as we were standardizing how we were doing things across the enterprise,” says Stanton. “We needed to be as consistent as possible.” 

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Len Vermillion | Editor in Chief

Len Vermillion is editor-in-chief of Control.