Fiber Optic Sensing Helps Sulzer Improve Pump Development

February 3, 2021

Sulzer has used a fiber-optic sensing system from SKF to verify the design of a new centrifugal process pump.

The sensing system measures loads directly in the bearing, which gives a deeper insight into a pump’s actual operating conditions. Sulzer says that applying the system to future pump designs will help it to further strengthen its leadership as a technology supplier in this area.

“Design verification, using real load data, is enabling Sulzer to further improve its pump designs, and enable product design verification with real time data rather than calculated scenarios. It improves physical test confidence and reduces time to market” says Daniel Perreng Sales and Market Champion Fiber Optic Sensing at SKF.

The system consists of load-sensing bearings with fiber optic sensors, fitting the most commonly used bearings sizes used in heavy duty process pumps. It is easy to install, with only minor modifications needed to the bearing housing. It measures bearing loads – and changes in loads and directions – with high accuracy and repeatability. The system can also determine housing and impeller qualities and alignment. It has been tested and validated on a Sulzer mechanical test rig.

While Sulzer has used the system in a research capacity, an end user could also use it to collect detailed data in the field.

A good relationship between Sulzer and SKF helped to forge the supply agreement. In the future, SKF will offer global support for setting up the system and training of Sulzer staff at their R&D sites as well as provide data analysis when required.

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