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Bently Nevada Corporation

Bently Nevada Gets Results With Automation

At the Incitec ammonia plant in Queensland, Australia, shutting down a compressor train can mean shutting down the entire plant. At the same time, a failure in the machinery could cause extensive damage and endanger workers. So, the information system for such machinery absolutely has to be accurate and reliable.

Last year the alarm was sounded by a Bently Nevada monitoring system hooked up to a critical 18,000 horsepower compressor train. The recently installed Dynamic Data Manager indicated increased vibration levels in the turbine and gearbox driving this massive piece of rotating machinery, and provided information leading the engineer on duty to conclude that the machine train had suffered a cracked shaft. If the shaft actually broke the results could be devastating, so the engineer decided to shut down the machine train - knowing that he would bear full responsibility for the expensive down time if no shaft crack were found.

Six hours after the machine was shut down, a crack was located in the gearshaft that spelled the imminent failure of the shaft.

Had the machine been allowed to continue running, it would almost certainly have severely damaged the machine train, endangered the safety of plant personnel, and contributed to an extended and costly plant shut down. However, the Bently Nevada monitoring system was able to prevent such a a catastrophic occurrence with its timely warning.

This example demonstrates the critical importance of the Bently Nevada Corporation's products. Bently Nevada is the world leader in manufacturing rotating machinery information systems, which are used in petroleum, chemical and power generation facilities. Tom Clark, design and drafting supervisor at Bently Nevada, explained that the machine train on a large piece of rotating machinery might be hooked up with hundreds of probes which measure thousands of points, collecting data on vibration, temperature, shaft displacement and other information that signals wear and other repair needs.

Recently the company contracted EDA, Inc. for three months to implement an automated design system that automates both engineering a drafting tasks for their monitoring cabinets, including monitor wiring diagrams. The automated system will generate 25 to 30 D-size drawings less that 15 minutes after the engineer enters client specifications. The system inserts more that 1,500 master drawings to each of the assembly drawings after looking up more than 40 tables and calculating size and location of each item inserted.

Time and cost saving on the system, which has only been in place for a few months, have already been dramatic. For instance, the time needed to create the initial proposal drawings for a client has been shaved down by 90 percent.

"Probably at least that" Mr. Clark said. "And there's no drafting involved."

Larry Caldwell, senior engineer, noted that "before, we had three engineers and two draftsmen to do this job. Now it's just two engineers."

The time needed to completely fill an order, including manufacturing time, has been cut by more than half - from eight weeks to about three." to me it's really a blessing because I can do a lot more work in a lot less time," Mr. Caldwell said.

Possibly more importantly, the cost of producing a client's system has been cut in half, allowing Bently Nevada to drop its prices while maintaining a healthy profit margin.

Previously, designs were not standardized and about 80 percent of the systems produced were custom-designed.

"Probably even more than that," Mr. Clark said, adding that the only time a design would be usually be produced more than once was for the same company. "Every now and then Westinghouse would say, 'we want another one like the one you built for us last year,' but even then we'd still have to change all the tagging.

The automated system has allowed for an almost compete reversal of the custom-to-standard design ration, with only about 30 percent of the company's orders currently non-standard.

The automation software package includes SYNTHESIS and a copy of DRAWING Librarian for ease of use and quick display and printing of the drawings, avoiding the need for a costly CAD system at every workstation. The next desired phase of the project would automate design one level above the current CABINET program, by automating the process of selecting what types of probes will go where on the actual machine train. This will allow Bently Nevada salespeople to complete proposal designs right there with the clients.

With a sales staff that operates all over the world, this would drastically cut time and increase accuracy for their proposals.

Both Mr. Clark and Mr. Caldwell said initial client response to the system has been positive, and they expect it to even more so as time goes on.

"They have a habit of wanting things their own way," Mr. Caldwell observed, regarding some of their more tradition-bound clients. "You have to convince them your way is better, with price, quality and time.

"I suspect that it's going to be a good year."