An industrial fan is used for providing a large flow of air or gas and boost the capacity and efficiency of industrial processes. These are designed to have a rhythmic movement of sufficient air with a certain speed that facilitates undesirable plant emissions. They are structured with heavier duty materials and components to operate longer and meet more stringent environmental and ambient requirements. The size of the fans is proportional to that of the plant. The power rating range belongs from as small as 2 KW to as large as 15 MW.
In any industrial plant, fans are used in various processes, including deaerating, drying finished products, scrubbing, providing hot or cold air, providing combustion air for furnaces and industrial exhaust systems, etc. Apart from efficient handling of smoke and heat, dust particles, corrosives, and heavy fumes, these ventilation systems provide process relief and maintain ambient temperatures in the plant. The secondary applications cover material handling, boilers, refrigeration, dust collection, cooling applications, exhaust systems, drying ovens, HVAC (high-pressure and low pressure), air-circulation, etc.
Industrial fans play a vital role in the industry. For instance, an Induced Draught (ID) Fan is responsible for effective combustion in the Aluminum industry. Fans dehydrate paint and welding fumes, while blowers are used in air recirculation units to maintain homogeneous temperatures inside industrial boiler ovens. Pelletizing fans enhance ventilation in iron and steel factories and High Volume Low Speed (HVLS) fans in printing. Cooling air fans are the heart of a sinter plant.
Industrial fans are, thus, the most detrimental equipment regarding reliability and must be well maintained for longevity and maximum usability. Predicting the irregularity in their functioning and diagnosing the root cause of the problem to prevent its malfunctioning is mandatory to avoid lengthy and expensive repair stoppages or even catastrophic failures.
Inspecting plants for ventilation involves estimating the correct number and size of fans in the plant. Prioritizing their maintenance is easy with the availability of the health status of the fan in real-time. To avoid a sudden failure of any fan and ensure proper functioning in the plant, a systematic analysis supplemented with streamlined insights into the equipment, followed by accurate diagnosis and executable recommendations, can guide the Maintenance team and reduce their repair time.
An implementable suggestion regarding the unbalancing of fans due to uneven distribution of mass on the impeller is the fan’s foundation. Also, its mounting hardware comprises nuts, bolts, plates, and other components, examining and confirming the non-existence of looseness, cracks, and damages, checking guy wires. It provides stability to the fan, and reviewing safety cables for their weakness or tears, etc., saves the production time and ensures the safety of the plant.
Further, mere overhauling may not reveal the root cause of ineffective fan operations. But a detailed assessment of vibrations, temperature, and noise levels, may be sufficient to confirm the fundamental cause of the discrepancy in operations. The acoustics of a fan varies dynamically with operating efficiency, impeller speed, scroll design, etc. However, a discrepancy in noise levels can be anticipated as an indicator of change in load, turbulence, vortex shedding, speed reduction, etc., and cannot measure sound levels directly. Also, the application of dampers or silencers may alter acoustic signals.
The selection of improper lubrication, over-lubrication, or under-lubrication can damage the bearings of the fan. Higher altitudes and temperatures can affect the impeller and shaft assembly of the fan, and therefore relying on these parameters to evaluate fan performance may not be sufficient. Hence for condition monitoring of fans, the best practice followed in the industry is to measure vibrations at the location of the main shaft bearing housing.
The most simple parameter in fan condition monitoring is the velocity of vibrations in mm/s. Identifying vibration characteristics (amplitude, frequency, displacement, velocity, acceleration, signal energy, etc.) as a function of operating point location on fan curve and control settings is very decisive. Vibrations may be generated electrically, mechanically, aerodynamically, or through resonance. Monitoring signal energy, a mathematical function of this large real-time stream of vibrations, provides insight into fan operations.
Further, the sensitivity of the fan, condition of the fan rotor, shaft and roller bearing, tension in the v-belt that drives the fan are also covered under the umbrella of vibration monitoring. Besides, observations obtained from the real-time data captured exposes the cause of the discrepancy in the curve and invokes a remedial strategy to get rid of unforeseen breakdowns.
Lack of ventilation, machinery producing extra heat, hazardous particulates, fumes & vapors from the processes, and several other things can make an industrial setting uncomfortable for workers. To prevent this scenario and create a decor in the working environment, industries focus on Diagnostic services coupled with predictive maintenance of industrial fans inside their structures.
Infinite Uptime’s Industrial Data Enabler (IDE) vEdge is one of the top ten Industrial Diagnostic Service providers. The Diagnostics are supported by a patented Vibration Monitoring System, which captures vibrations, acoustics, and temperature in real-time. The plug-and-play, edge-computing Predictive Maintenance Solution:
- Provides insights on the dashboard
- Identifies the source of the irregularity
- Forecasts the failure of any rotating equipment, and
- Recommends deliverable actions, thus potentially ensuring maximum uptime and transforming any traditional manufacturing unit into a DIGITAL factory.