Controlling Compressor Vibration and Surge

Controlling vibration and surge is one of the most critical aspects of keeping centrifugal and reciprocating compressors up and running. If improperly monitored and maintained, these types of compressors can experience frequent functional issues and ultimately shorten their life span.

Vibration controls are essential concerning any kind of rotating equipment, and compressors are no exception. Regarding reciprocating compressors, typically the vibration sensing is not all that sophisticated. One will generally see a velocity measuring device, transmitting in inches per second, mounted to the block of a reciprocating compressor. As the vibration increases, the velocity of that vibration is going to increase along with it. This signal is then fed into a PLC or another comparable device. The signal is compared with a set of predetermined points. In the industry, these points are referred to as the “high” and the “high high.” An alarm is set to go off on the “high” to warn the operator that the vibration is starting to exceed a velocity that is recommended. If the vibration does not level off or slow down, the “high high” point will be triggered, which is programmed to shut down the compressor so it does not cause any irreversible damage.
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