Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Value of Frequency Tuning

There are many applications where ultrasound can be used for condition monitoring and energy conservation.  If someone is looking at using ultrasound for multiple applications, then an instrument with frequency tuning, or adjustable frequency should be considered.  Remember, the frequency is where the instrument is set to be able to listen to the sound.  Frequency tuning allows the user to select the specific frequency of the interested sound, while reducing interference from competing ultrasonic signals.

With frequency tuning, because we can tune the instrument to the recommended frequency for a particular application, this allows for better sound quality that is heard by the inspector and then recorded and stored by the instrument. An instrument with frequency tuning also allows for an ultrasound instrument to be used for multiple applications.  Instruments that are set to a fixed frequency are usually set for an optimal frequency for both airborne and contact applications; therefore, considered to be “trouble shooting” instruments. Instruments with frequency tuning are also more suitable for data collection and trending.

Benefits of frequency tuning:
Better sound quality
Reduces interference from competing ultrasounds
More repeatable readings
Utilization for more applications
Ability to select frequencies suitable for the application

Adrian Messer 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Ultraprobe Focus: UP 15,000

One of the many features that has proven to be quite useful with the Ultraprobe 15,000 is the ability to call up and review baseline information while out on a route. While data is important, being able to hear and observe uploaded sound files on the spectral analysis screen is a feature that has excited many users.  When a shift in sound quality or an increase in amplitude is noted the current sound file can be compared with the recorded baseline sound on the FFT or Time Series screen for instant analysis of changes in condition to determine severity and a course of action.  

Another feature of importance is the ability to review images relating to the test point.  This is useful in verifying that the specific test point matches the stored record number to avoid errors in data collection.  In addition being able to retrieve close up views of specific referenced anomalies can alert the inspector as to whether or not a recommended repair was completed.  

Regarding data, not only is the original decibel reading displayed, other stored parameters can be reviewed as well.  The information stored will be application specific so that, for example, in electrical inspections voltage and temperature can be viewed, for bearing inspections, RPM and temperature or in valve inspection temperature and pressure for the ABCD readings can be reviewed.

If you have an Ultraprobe 15,000, we’d love to hear from you regarding the features you find most useful.  Send us an email:

Alan Bandes

Monday, June 3, 2013

Sherlock Headphones and "The Case of the Un-Carbonated Cruise Ship"

I arrived early at the flat, and as I pulled up to the curb, I could hear the melancholy violin music coming from the open window. We had not had a case in several weeks, and Headphones was sinking into a boredom induced depression.

“Wastenot,” Sherlock greeted me as I entered the flat, with little excitement.

“Hello Headphones!” I said in a cheerier voice, hoping to change the mood. “I have a surprise for you!”

“Ahh… Wastenot,” he exclaimed, “thank you for booking the vacation on the luxury Cruise ship for us, but I don’t know if we should spend so much time out of the flat, what if a case comes up?”

So much for surprises, I should have known Headphones would deduce what I had planned, I didn't even want to know how, I just needed to convince him to go. I finally coaxed him into accompanying me on the cruise with the promise that we could take a behind the scenes tour of the engine room and all the other mechanical workings that kept a gigantic ship afloat. I had contacted the chief engineer of the ship, Fernando Floatingfrassled, and when he heard that the famous maintenance detective, Sherlock Headphones was coming aboard, he quickly agreed to the tour.

“All Aboard that’s coming aboard!!” the speaker blared as the last few passengers walked up the gangway and boarded the ship. Headphones and I were sharing a large cabin with a balcony, and I could tell the sea air and festive ship was starting to improve his mood. We were unpacking in our cabin, when there was a knock at the door. Fernando entered the room and warmly welcomed Headphones and me. Fernando explained the basic operation of the floating city, and said he would let us relax for a while and enjoy the ship. He scheduled our “special tour” for the next day.

The next morning our relaxation time was interrupted when Fernando appeared poolside with a strained look on his face. “Gentleman, we have had some slight issues come up, and would be grateful for your assistance.”

“Excellent! The game is afoot Wastenot!” Headphones excitedly exclaimed, as he leaped up from the lounge chair. We met Fernando a few minutes later after changing out of our swim trunks. Fernando explained that the ship had eight restaurants and another 10 “kiosk” type outlets where passengers could get a range of food and beverages. The carbonated beverages, soda, beer, etc. dispensers at the restaurants are hooked up to a central Co2 system and the kiosks use local cylinders to pressurize the beverage dispensers.
“We have been going through a lot of Co2 cylinders for the kiosk outlets, and we are afraid we will not have enough to last the entire cruise,” said Fernando. “Based on consumption numbers for the carbonated beverages, something is wrong. If we run out, and can’t serve soda and beer, there might be a mutiny!”

Headphones had brought his trusty UP 3000 with him, and told Fernando to take him to the first kiosk that was going through cylinders at such an alarming rate. Headphones began scanning the connections between the cylinders and beverage dispensing unit. “These fittings seem to be tight,” said Headphones as we observed him using the gross to fine method, (scanning in all directions while adjusting the sensitivity down to follow the loudest sound, as he moved closer to the source of the sound he continued to adjust the sensitivity.) “However, I have found a leak on the cylinder, observe how the dB level and meter display go up as I point the scanning module at the top of the cylinder where the connection/fill valve is.”

Headphones asked Fernando to take us to the storage area where the Co2 cylinders were stored after they were loaded on the ship. After scanning several pallets of cylinders with the UP 3000, Headphones proclaimed to Fernando and me that he had solved the mystery of why the kiosks were going through so much Co2. More than half of the cylinders were leaking right in the storage area!

Fernando was on his mobile radio, calling in some of his mechanics to come up with a creative solution to seal the cylinders and conserve as much Co2 as they could, hopefully enough could be saved to get the ship to the next port where more could be procured.

“I don’t know how this happened,” Fernando mused. “We have a PM task written to receive the cylinders from the supplier and ensure they are in good condition.”

“I know how it happened,” Headphones said in his usual self important tone. Headphones asked Fernando to show him the PM task. It read, “Inspect Cylinders upon receiving on board.”

“Aha! Just as I suspected!” Headphones excitedly exclaimed. He went on to explain that many PM tasks are not written to enough detail, and therefore are non-value added tasks. This should be a condition monitoring task and the PM should read, “Inspect each pallet of cylinders using an Ultrasonic detector as they are received in from the supplier, rejecting any cylinders that are leaking.” Headphones went on to explain that a procedure should be written on the proper technique to do so, and maintenance personnel should be properly trained in the use of the Ultrasonic detector for leak detection.
“Brilliant Headphones!” Fernando and I said at the same time.

“Identifying and solving the problem is only the first step,” Headphones explained. He went on to explain to Fernando that one of the things he took away from a presentation on Reliability Leadership, by Tim Goshert of Allied Reliability Group, was that by carefully choosing the correct supplier, and working with, and educating them on what you need, the products or services they offer will better fit your needs, and both customer and supplier win.  In this case Headphones recommended that the supplier should be employing the same procedure for leak checking the cylinders before they leave their filling facility. The supplier will then not have the concern of deliveries being rejected by the customer, and can make their delivery process more efficient, resulting in no return trips to replace leaking cylinders and higher customer satisfaction!

Fernando was grateful for our help, and promised us that he and his team would begin reviewing their PM’s and eliminate or re-write the non-value added ones. He also told us he would review the other presentations available on from this year’s Ultrasound World conference. He was confident there was other valuable information to be gained from the various reliability and ultrasound presentations.

As we left the ship after a relaxing week of sun AND delicious carbonated beverages, I gathered my courage and asked Headphones how he knew about my secret plan to take the cruise.

“Elementary Wastenot! I observed on the calendar we share that you had not booked  any appointments for this past week. I also detected a faint smell of fish mingled with the smell of diesel fuel emanating from your shoes that told me you had recently been to the port. I also observed a bag from the pharmacy on your desk, yet I knew you were not taking any medications. I know you enjoy the sea air, but also know you can occasionally suffer “Sea Sickness” evidenced by your green pallor and frequent trips to the loo on our one and only fishing trip last year. I then deduced that the bag must contain Dramamine, and hence you were going to bring me out of my depression with a cruise!"

“Amazing Headphones…………And by the way YOU’RE WELCOME!”
Doug Waetjen, CMRP

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Software Sage on "Utilizing the Historical Method"

One of the questions we get asked frequently is what is the best way to establish baselines on our equipment? For me, what I like to recommend is the historical method.

To do this you first set up a route in DMS and then you go out and begin to collect data. It’s important to note that the frequency that the readings are taken depends on how critical the asset is. Conducting an Asset Criticality Assessment should always precede any PdM activities you are implementing.  That being said, I would recommend initial data should be taken at a minimum of once per month, and then adjusted once the baseline and alarms have been set.  From here it is a bit of a domino effect in that once the history has been established, the baseline can be set and once the baseline is set, the alarm levels can be set. Typical alarm levels are 8dB above the baseline and represent a lack of lubrication, and 16dB above the baseline represents the next stage of bearing failure, something that lubrication will not fix.

Once the baseline is established, the user will just go out and record decibel readings and will not have to capture additional sound files. The only time a sound file would need to be recorded once the baseline is established is when it reaches an alarm level.

If you are using the Ultraprobe 10,000 and Ultraprobe 15,000 you can actually alarm on the spot if the user is at a point along the route that is at an alarm level.

When determining how much time needs to be allotted for working your routes, just keep in mind that if you are recording both sound files and dB’s at the same time, you typically want a 20 second sound file, so allot 30 seconds per point. 

Setting up your routes, determining baselines and alarms is a critical piece to implementing an effective ultrasound program. If you have additional questions or tips to share, please feel free to email me at

Adrian Messer (subbing this month as Software Sage)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Ultrasound World IX - Where the Best of the Best Came Together...

In it's 9th year, Ultrasound World proved once again to be the leading ultrasound conference in the industry and with attendees from six continents this truly diverse event spoke the common language of reliability. Throughout the week of education sessions one lesson rang true, an ultrasound program without a well thought out asset management program will merely scratch the surface of what ultrasound based condition monitoring can accomplish.

Fortunately this year's agenda was packed with thought leaders who presented on all aspects of asset management.  Reliability centered lubrication, excellence in steam trap monitoring, how to  manage your maintenance budget, reliability leadership, and predictive technology implementation were just a few of the topics covered. Needless to say, everyone left Florida with a laundry list of "AHA" moments some that can be implemented straight away and others that will require some longer term planning.  

Having attended Ultrasound World for the past six years I know first hand that while the lessons learned in the sessions are critical, it's the discussions with peers outside of the room whether it be in the numerous networking events or one on one while watching the sun set over the Gulf that prove year after year to be invaluable. Professional networks are expanded and no doubt lifelong friendships are formed as well. 

Ultrasound World also has the benefit of providing a forum for fellow industry partners to attend and showcase their expertise. This year we were fortunate to have Allied Reliability, Infraspection Institute, PdMA Corporation, R&J Laboratories, SMRP, and United Infrared on hand to share their knowledge and services with our attendees.

Presenter, James Neale, PhD of Waikato University shared this thought with the group, "No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care." This really resonated with me and it was evident that everyone in attendance truly cares about the safety, reliability, and success of their organizations.

We'll be documenting more of the lessons learned through a series of posts here on our Sound Advice blog so check back often and next year make plans to be at Ultrasound World X! 

Maureen Gribble

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Software Sage: "Understanding the Capturable Rate"

Capturable Rate is something that is new to our Compressed Air report.
The Caputurable Rate is simply the percentage of the electricity you can save that it took to generate the air that you are leaking.

Here is an example:
Let’s say you have a reciprocating compressor. It unloads and loads when you need it. But, when the compressor unloads it still draws electricity, let’s say it’s 60%, therefore you can only save 40% of electrical cost even when you “fixed” 100% of the air leaks.

Or stated another way, you have a 40db leak on a 100 psi system; the estimated leak would be about 2.5 cfm.  At 12 cents per kilowatt, the air is costing about 39 cents per 1000 cfm to produce, making the amount of electricity used to produce the air for this leak 4241 Kw/H or $508.96. If you fixed this leak, the compressor would remain unloaded longer but, would still draw 60% of the electricity; you could capture 40% or $203.58 of the electricity.

Most compressor systems today will be designed with main air supplies that run @ 100% of the compressors ability. This will likely be a high efficiency compressor with a good plan for storage. Then they will add a trim compressor to the system to add more air for the extra demand. Generally it will not generate air as efficiently as the main compressor, but it will likely have the ability to completely shut off when the demand for extra air is not needed. In this example, you would be able to save 100% of the electricity used to compress the air making the capturable rate 100%.

Software Sage Stan 

Building Safety into our Products...

While many inspection programs do not call for or need to be concerned with hazardous environments, there are many industries and facilities that do.   The first criterion for any inspection is safety.  When it comes to working in hazardous areas it is essential to practice safe working habits.  This starts with the instruments you will be using. To help perform ultrasound inspections in hazardous areas there are two approaches: digital or analog. 

If the testing is basic “point and shoot” that does not require data logging or sound imaging, the analog Ultraprobe2000 is the tool to use.  It is rated Class I, Division 1, Groups A,B,C and D.

For those inspections that need data logging and baseline route data uploading and downloading, the Ultraprobe9000 Ex is an answer since it is rated IS, CSA, FM & ATEX.  The ATEX is similar to Class I, Division 1, Groups C and D.

For more sophisticated inspection capability to accommodate the entire plant including outside the hazardous areas, there are specialty kits: the Ultraprobe 10,000 Plus IS Package and the Ultraprobe 15,000 Plus IS Package.  Both Plus IS packages include an Ultraprobe 9000 Ex for the hazardous areas.

Before entering an area designated as hazardous, the inspector must check to see if the instrument being used is rated safe for that specific environment.  This applies to all instruments whether it’s ultrasound, vibration, or infrared.  First, review the conditions and hazards with your safety coordinator.  Find out if there are any ratings needed for the instrument in order to comply with safety requirements for that area.  For example, is the instrument rated Ex for hydrogen or acetylene or propane?  The ratings may be different from one area to the next.  Since there are many types of hazardous environments it’s up to the inspector to review them and understand them before any testing can begin.

Alan Bandes