Engines and transmissions have long been developed with monitoring systems, which has greatly improved safety and productivity. In hindsight, it’s clear that this technology was a major step forward for the computer-machine connection. So why hasn’t this approach found its way to hydraulic fracturing pumps? Power Ends, and fluid ends in particular, are some of the most maintenance-heavy components in the well stimulation industry, and so it makes sense to tie them to monitoring technology as well. Enter the Pump Electronic Monitoring System, or PEMS. PEMS is a new way of managing pumping operations, as it can minimize downtime, preserve fluid end and power end components, and help avoid catastrophic failures.
PEMS may be new, but it’s already a proven technology, with implementation in three active basins already. Operators that have adopted PEMS have quickly noted its usefulness, and it’s easy to see why. PEMS offers a number of clear-cut advantages to a pumping fleet. Here’s how it works:
1. PEMS detects failures before they happen. PEMS’ primary function is to analyze staggering amounts of data in real time, looking for any signs of a possible fail state. This data is gathered through a comprehensive set of sensors including, oil temperature, oil pressure, vibration, discharge pressure and suction pressure sensors. Data gathered through these sensors is used in proprietary algorithms, and when they signal a possible failure, the operator is immediately alerted. These alerts are similar to the Public J1939 warnings and event data used in engines and transmissions. PEMS can also detect leakage and cavitation, which is a leading cause of fluid end wear.
2. PEMS has been developed through extensive testing. Hydraulic fracturing is done differently all over the world, and testing pumps means pushing them into extremely high speeds and pressures. Gathering testing data is difficult as well, as every test results in mounds of it. These are significant obstacles for any team developing pump data monitoring, but Cat has done the tough work for hydraulic fracturing operators. There’s no need for operators to manage all this data on their own. With PEMS, the operator brings the system online, and responds as needed.
3. PEMS is ready for retrofitting, and can be used with Cat or other pump brands. PEMS is effective with most brands and pump types, and, like most ECMs, is installed in an easy to access location. It takes little effort to integrate PEMS into existing pumps, and it will be an optional addition to new Cat pumps.
4. PEMS is designed to be built upon. Already, PEMS is effective at avoiding common and costly failures, but Cat engineers are working on making it even better. Future versions of PEMS will also feature oil quality sensors, and it will eventually be paired with DTOC to make DTOC’s automated functions more precise and efficient. Currently, PEMS is ready for integration into Cat Connect systems, allowing fleet managers to respond to alerts and schedule maintenance from remote locations, and from a single console.
Pump components are going to wear out. It’s unavoidable. With PEMS, though, operators can ensure that component maintenance is well forecasted, and not a source of major downtime.
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DTOC takes the guesswrk out of well service operations
Compatible with all current generation pressure pumping transmissions, Caterpillar’s new DTOC technology provides much needed automation for tasks that typically require a lot of input from well service operators.