Maintenance, Test & Measurement, Calibration

Five considerations when creating a wastewater machine monitoring plan

July 2021 Maintenance, Test & Measurement, Calibration

In a water scarce country like South Africa, handling wastewater correctly is not a luxury but an essential service. Due to rapid urbanisation and resource-heavy lifestyle changes, our wastewater system is under severe pressure, which is compounded exponentially by an ageing wastewater infrastructure that cannot cope with the increasing demands being placed on it.

Ageing infrastructure also implies ageing rotating equipment. In the case of water treatment, these rotating machines are typically motors, pumps, blowers and compressors. Higher demand requires these machines to be available and to run reliably for longer periods, thus extending maintenance intervals. There is therefore a growing need for maintenance-related outages to be shorter and subsequent maintenance efforts need to be focused and problem-oriented.

In a nutshell, the key factor to getting ahead of our growing wastewater problem is a maintenance planning process driven by excellent condition monitoring and machine status data. So, the question is, how do we achieve this?

1. Continuous condition monitoring

A properly implemented vibration condition monitoring strategy has been proven in practice to increase the reliability and reduce the maintenance costs of machines by preventing ‘run-to-failure’ situations. Traditionally, a walk-around vibration condition monitoring program would be the norm for wastewater machines, always with the risk of missing problems that develop in-between surveys. With the advent of new monitoring technologies, however, it is becoming more cost-effective to monitor these types of machines around the clock, making it possible to detect problems early and plan for maintenance interventions.

2. Sensors that can withstand harsh environmental conditions

It is essential to implement rugged sensors that can withstand the corrosive wastewater environment, and can be used in applications where the sensor might be submerged. Typically, these sensors are stainless-steel with integrated cables that are hermetically sealed to withstand submersion. Using sensors that are appropriate for these conditions can also make it possible to monitor bearings that are inaccessible during normal operating conditions, such as submersible pumps.

3. Integration of measurements

Over the years vibration transmitters have become smart and can differentiate between the most prevalent vibration problems faced by wastewater operators. Transmitters can provide a vibration level output indicating misalignment, looseness and unbalance conditions, as well as a signal indicating the condition of the rolling element bearing.

These vibration levels and the corresponding alarm status, provide valuable information for planning maintenance requirements and should be visible to operators and engineers. This is easily achieved by integration with existing PLC, scada and data historian infrastructure. This also allows for the automatic shutting down of these machines in the event that vibration levels exceed predefined safety limits, protecting machines from running to complete failure.

4. Going wireless

In many plants, wireless condition monitoring strategies are becoming a viable solution. Wireless monitoring systems allow for all the functionality of traditional systems, with the benefit of mitigating cable costs. This not only reduces the costs of copper wire, but also allows for an easier and often quicker installation. Wireless technology is proving to be the right solution when there is a requirement not to disrupt operations during installation. Battery life and battery maintenance of wireless sensors are both factors to consider, but as technology continually evolves and improves, so battery life of several years is becoming a reality.

5. Budget

Continuous monitoring requires a significant upfront investment to establish the infrastructure. Therefore, it is essential to identify the correct solution before spending money on it. Cost-effective condition monitoring solutions are available to put the power in your hands. The key is to utilise sensors, record the signals of interest, make the measurement data available to the right maintenance personnel and to integrate this information into the existing maintenance planning process. The investment in continuous measurements and condition monitoring can realise real savings for your business by applying a data-driven predictive maintenance approach.

For more information contact Jozua Joubert, TANDM, +27 12 004 1363,,


Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page

Further reading:

A new vibration test system for Dragonfly Aerospace
TANDM Technologies News
Dragonfly Aerospace is investing in a 3000 square metre design and manufacturing facility in Techno Park, Stellenbosch.

Linux-based condition monitoring platform
Turck Banner Maintenance, Test & Measurement, Calibration
Turck Banner’s compact IM18-CCM50 DIN rail control centre for collecting, processing and forwarding condition data to the IIoT can be configured for specific OEM requirements.

Pyrometer for challenging applications
Instrotech Maintenance, Test & Measurement, Calibration
Instrotech now offers the new Optris CT 4M pyrometer for high-speed applications.

IR thermometer withstands 3-metre drop
Comtest Maintenance, Test & Measurement, Calibration
Comtest has on offer the Fluke 64 MAX IR thermometer with internal memory, unattended monitoring, improved accuracy and increased battery life.

BMG gearboxes for railway maintenance
Bearing Man Group t/a BMG Maintenance, Test & Measurement, Calibration
BMG supplies the local railways sector with custom-designed planetary gearboxes for use in railway maintenance programmes.

SKF increases paper machine reliability
SKF South Africa Maintenance, Test & Measurement, Calibration
SKF’s virtually maintenance-free rope sheave units offer a unique solution to the pulp and paper industry through improved machine reliability.

How are infrared cameras calibrated?
Instrotech Maintenance, Test & Measurement, Calibration
Infrared thermometers are calibrated with the help of reference radiation sources called black bodies, which can produce different temperatures with high stability.

Connected test tools
Comtest Maintenance, Test & Measurement, Calibration
Fluke Connect is a set of tools and a smartphone app that let maintenance technicians capture, securely store and share data with their teams from the field.

Monitoring at GKN Aerospace
ifm - South Africa Maintenance, Test & Measurement, Calibration
The combined solution of ifm’s sensors and software helps GKN understand and improve its equipment.

Benefits of PowerView CP for pipelines
Omniflex Remote Monitoring Specialists Maintenance, Test & Measurement, Calibration
Omniflex has developed the PowerView CP (cathodic protection) system over several years to bring up-to-date technology to Impressed Current Cathodic Protection.