Home>Efficient Maintenance>Condition monitoring>Condition monitoring aids flood prevention

Condition monitoring aids flood prevention

23 September 2020

INSTALLING CONDITION monitoring devices on flood pumps and motors can provide advanced warning of any impending bearing failures. In this example vibration monitoring, along with automatic lubrication, has prevented unplanned downtime of flood pumping stations

Floods are a major challenge for many countries today. Over the last few years, the UK has suffered badly from a series of violent storms that caused widespread flooding – both in terms of coastal areas and river floods. Industry experts predict that due to the effects of Climate Change, these types of storms are likely to continue over the next decade and beyond, with the economic cost to the UK being as high as £6 billion.

Despite significant achievements in the UK’s river flood forecasting and early warning systems, there is still a need for effective tools and measures, either to prevent the floods or at least to decrease their negative impact on agricultural and urban areas. This information can be used by storm-water and flood pumping stations to avoid the damage that can occur after the flood. One of the main issues is the condition monitoring of these pumping stations. In some cases, these stations are not ready for an instant response to natural disasters such as floods. In order to prevent unexpected failures of the drives or the pumps themselves, it is necessary to monitor the condition of the equipment. One method of acheiving this is to install condition monitoring devices on pumps and motors to provide advanced warnings of any impending bearing failures.

Flood pumping station in Belgium

In a recent example in Belgium, SmartCheck condition monitoring devices and CONCEPT2 automatic lubricators were installed on flood pumps and motors. Schaeffler’s Belgian customer has since seen a range of benefits, including the prevention of unplanned downtime to pumping stations, reduced maintenance costs and increased plant availability.

The customer is primarily responsible for water, air and environmental resources. The company’s area of responsibility includes maintaining the operation of pumping stations.

In order to avoid flooding in its area of responsibility, the customer built a pumping station. A catch basin and three propeller pumps in the pumping station ensure that any excess water is pumped out and diverted accordingly. Inadequate pump monitoring led to the unforeseen failure of a bearing. As a result of this, the pump wheel began to vibrate, causing 5cm of wear to the pump housing. In order to prevent pump failures due to bearing damage in the future, the customer sought a condition monitoring solution for the pumping station. 

Schaeffler Solution

Schaeffler experts recommended installing six CONCEPT2 automatic lubrication systems for lubrication of bearings in the motors and pumps. This solutions permits ongoing and reliable lubrication of the bearings. CONCEPT2 supplies two lubrication points independently of each other and withstands pressures up to 50 bar. Schaeffler also recommended installing nine SmartCheck condition monitoring devices to monitor the three pump/motor units. Two SmartChecks are installed per unit to monitor the upper and lower motor bearings, plus an additional SmartCheck on each of the pump bearings.

Any deviations or changes in vibration behaviour are detected by SmartCheck and reported via the customer’s control system

Any deviations or changes in vibration behaviour are detected by SmartCheck and reported via the customer’s control system, thus allowing incipient bearing damage to be detected at an early stage. Monitored parameters include vibration, temperature, speed and cavitation.
The local dealer Supplimax, a certified Schaeffler partner, recommended the systems and will be providing future on-site service advice. 

As a result of Schaeffler’s holistic predictive monitoring solution, the customer is seeing the following benefits:

- Prevention of unplanned downtime of the pumping station during ongoing operation

- No costs incurred by production stoppages

- No secondary damage to motors and pumps

- Low acquisition costs of the monitoring systems

- Reduced maintenance costs

- Increased plant availability

- Greater security due to self-reporting systems.

Working on the basis of just one occurrence of bearing damage per year, the following savings would be achieved using the monitoring systems:

Estimated savings with the SmartCheck and CONCEPT2
Annual maintenance expenditure (8 h)................................ €1,000
One-off expenditure for SmartChecks and CONCEPT2.......... €14,000
Pump damage without monitoring systems........................... €50,000


With monitoring system
Cost saving following initial occurrence of damage................ €35,000
Cost saving with each subsequent occurrence of damage....... €49,000

As the pumping station is not manned on a permanent basis, remote monitoring provides a sound alternative method of observing the system. This holistic solution can also be applied and extended to other units in almost any plant.