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Kappa X Radically Reduces Costs and Machine Downtime at Petrochemical Plant

Sensoteq Kappa X wireless sensors have been deployed at a petrochemical plant in the UK to monitor machine vibration and prevent facility downtime. By using the sensor system for continuous machine monitoring, concerning defects with a vacuum pump were detected. Vibration analysts identified several issues on Analytix and calculated a fixed cost saving of £65,328.56 since installation.

Machinery and Operations

The petrochemical plant processes chemicals derived from petroleum for widespread use across many industries, including fuel and manufacturing. These petrochemicals are used for fibres, solvents and thousands of other products. The site uses several vacuum pumps to remove all air and vapour particles from an enclosed space. If a pump fails, the reduced suction can increase pressure, causing fuses to overheat and burn out, leading to machine damage and costly failures.

Large petrochemical plant


To monitor vibration issues and potential bearing fatigue and faults, Kappa X sensors were installed on pumps and compressors throughout the site to measure potential bearing fatigues or faults. By detecting early signs of bearing wear, misalignment, and other faults, the Kappa X sensors enable predictive maintenance, helping to prevent unexpected breakdowns and extend the lifespan of the machinery.

Kappa X sensor installed on pump in petrochemical plant

The Problem

Using Analytix, an email alert was triggered to inform the user of a critical issue with the J3630 Vacuum Pump. Thanks to our powerful, intuitive and efficient interface, users can effortlessly pinpoint the exact machine at fault.

One red alarm shown on a software interface

After clicking on the J3630 Vacuum Pump, we can see that four sensors are connected to this machine, two showing amber warnings and one flashing with a critical alarm. The critical alarm is displayed on the interface in three separate contexts.

One red alarm shown on a software interface

The sensor detected a vertical PK-PK rate greater than 15 G's with multiple points breaking the critical alarm threshold.

Graph on software interface showing machine data breaking alarm line

The spectrum analysis reveals harmonic readings of 8.16 orders. Harmonic orders provide critical insights into the condition of rotating equipment and the presence of these harmonics indicates that there may be looseness or irregularities in the bearing's performance.

Vibration data graph showing spectrum

To compound the issue, an analysis of the Time Waveform indicates inconsistent peaking, which suggests the presence of multiple defects within the machine.

Vibration data graph showing time waveform lined graph

By examining the acceleration PK-PK graph, the analyst could observe a defect when the machine was restarted following an extended shutdown.

The detailed breakdown on our Sensoteq Analytix platform allowed the site to discern that a locking tab washer had snapped during operation, causing rotor movement. Furthermore, a DE Bearing suffered an outer race defect and corrosion damage. Without Kappa X, these issues would have remained undetected, potentially leading to machine failure and costly downtime.

The Solution and Result

The DE and NDE bearings were greased to minimise friction and reduce pressure on the machine. Following the replacement, a significant drop in the acceleration peak-to-peak graph was observed. On this occasion, the OEE Loss was noted at 500 tons of Product and the fixed cost saving for this particular intervention amounted to £9,500. Thanks to Sensoteq's wireless sensors, five failures have been detected since installation in 2022, resulting in a total fixed cost savings of £65,328.56 to date.

Close up of snapped locking tab washer

Close up of corrosion damage on bearing

Our proactive monitoring not only prevented a disaster; it saved substantial maintenance expenses. Proactive maintenance can significantly reduce your costs and optimise your machinery uptime. To have a sales representative assist in determining your needs, contact us to book a demo.

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