Reciprocating Compressor Condition Monitoring

Monitoring Reciprocating Compressors Webinar Banner Recippage

Our comprehensive offering of hardware, software, and services is specifically designed to address the special monitoring requirements of reciprocating compressors and uses our state-of-the-art 3500 Series Machinery Protection System and System 1® optimization and diagnostic software. Our compressor monitoring system capabilities address more than just rider band wear, and include valve condition, pressure ring condition, pressure packing case condition, crosshead pin condition, and many others.

GE's Bently Nevada™ reciprocating compressor condition monitoring and diagnostics solution continues a legacy of over 40 years of design, fabrication, installation and test of the specialized instrumentation these machines require. With more than 50,000 reciprocating compressor transducer and monitoring channels installed worldwide, no one is better positioned to help you manage and protect your reciprocating compressor.

Recips Overview

We are pleased to offer a considerably expanded solution with hardware, software and services specifically designed to address the special monitoring requirements of reciprocating compressors using our state-of-the-art 3500 Series Machinery Protection System, System 1® software platform and powerful sensors. Today’s monitoring capabilities address measurements that indicate valve condition, pressure ring condition, pressure packing case condition, crosshead pin condition, and many others in addition to rider band wear.


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Impulse/Impact Rulepak

Traditionally, protection bands from the Bently Nevada 3500/70M monitor and threshold alarms from other 3500 monitors alert users to the problem areas within these data sets. The Impact/Impulse RulePak builds on this proven foundation to provide powerful real-time analytics on your reciprocating compressor data, integrating synchronized pressure, load, and vibration measurements.


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Our experience in reciprocating compressor condition monitoring systems is highlighted by our vast case studies, helpful tips and application notes below.

Case Studies/Application Notes

Unfiltered Piston Rod Vibration

End users have applied proximity probe measurements at the piston rod on API-618 style reciprocating compressors for over four decades. Early monitoring systems interpreted the unfiltered piston rod vibration signal generated by the probes as a rod drop measurement. More modern systems interpret the unfiltered piston rod vibration signal as rod position or as segmentally analyzed vibration. In any case, end users usually want an automatic shutdown from these probes. Experience has shown that alarms, which indicate changes in machine condition, have value; however, connecting the probes to an automatic shutdown system does not result in accurate and reliable operation. The intent of this paper is to summarize industry experience that supports this conclusion.

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Is Rod Drop the Right
Measurement for My
Reciprocating Compressor?

If you are considering rod drop for your reciprocating compressor, or have it installed and struggling to make it work, this application note provides helpful criteria to determine if the measurement will be successful on your reciprocating compressor.

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Channel Resonance in
Reciprocating Compressor
Cylinder Pressure Measurements

The design of the port connecting a pressure transducer to the internal pressure of a reciprocating compressor has a great impact on the accuracy of the cylinder pressure measurement. This application note provides guidelines and design tools to avoid conditions favorable for the creation of standing acoustic waves, or channel resonance, within the port.

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Rod Load Calculations and
Definitions for Reciprocating
Compressor Monitoring

The term “rod load” has been used for decades to describe the maximum forces a reciprocating compressor assembly can withstand. The term has some ambiguity, but recent papers have clarified some of the key definitions and terms. With the improved understanding beginning to permeate industry, customers have begun to ask questions about how GE’s Bently Nevada* 3500 Series Monitoring Systems and System 1 Condition Monitoring Software calculate these values. The purpose of this note is to answer those questions.

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Valve Temperature
Measurement for
Reciprocating Compressors

End users of reciprocating compressors frequently report valve failures among the leading causes of unplanned outages. They apply a number of technologies to assess the condition of the valve to better manage their compressors. Properly understood and applied, valve cover temperature measurement provides valuable insight into reciprocating compressor cylinder valve health. This application note reviews the successes and limitations of this measurement and discusses the three primary methods of monitoring valve temperature.

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Wireless Connecting Rod
Temperature Measurements
for Reciprocating Compressor

In recent years a radar-based wireless temperature system has come to the market that enables end-users to make connecting rod bearing temperature measurements online. This application note provides background on the radar measurement, legacy discrete measurement technology, detail on the installation arrangements and describes how to interface it with Bently Nevada 3500 Series Monitoring Systems and System 1 Condition Monitoring Software.

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Recip Tips and Application-oriented ORBIT Articles

Instrumenting Older Reciprocating Compressors

Utilizing indicator ported valves to provide a pressure sensor port on reciprocating compressors that do not have an OEM provided location.

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Vibration Analysis for Reciprocating Compressors

Vibration analysis of reciprocating machines creates some unique challenges. This article explains the reasons and gives clarity on recommended monitoring and analysis practices and tools.

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Multi-Event Wheel Installation Pitfalls

This article explains why a multi-event per revolution Keyphasor provides value for reciprocating compressors and how to avoid common installation pitfalls.

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Mechanical Protection for
Cylinder Pressure Transducers

Cylinder pressure transducer provide critical information for managing reciprocating compressors; however inadequate or improper support/bracing results in potentially dangerous conditions. The article includes specific recommendations for bracing and evaluating supporting member stiffness.

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OK Limits for Impact Events

Differentiating transducer faults (OK / NOT OK condition) from legitimate machinery condition alarms on reciprocating compressors requires a fundamentally different strategy than that implemented for rotating equipment. This article provides a description of this strategy and introduces the 3500/70M monitor designed specifically for seismic measurements on reciprocating compressors.

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Rod Drop

Making a rod drop measurement requires certain assumptions to be held. This article explains these assumptions and provides an example of how understanding these assumptions and properly configuring and commissioning a rod drop system resulted in success.

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Vibration Analysis of reciprocating compressors

This article provides and introduction and background for displacement, velocity and acceleration vibration measurements on reciprocating compressors.

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Rider band wear measurement in reciprocating compressors

For those reciprocating compressors employing rod drop to provide a direct indication of rider band wear, this article provides helpful application notes on how to configure the monitor and also how dynamic and thermal condition effects the measurement.

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Case History ORBIT Articles

Opportunity/Risk assessment services

Understanding the economic impact of condition monitoring systems for reciprocating compressors often proves to be the most difficult step in deciding whether or not to invest in this technology. This article provides an example of how an Opportunity Risk Assessment (ORA) determined which failures within a plant were most problematic. Based on this analysis the plant implemented condition monitoring system for reciprocating compressor.

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Using pv curves to diagnose a recip valve problem

Reciprocating compressors providing hydrogen make-up or booster service have the potential to impact refinery output in the event of a failure or unplanned outage. In this article, data from a 3500/System 1 installation enables the plant to identify a problem and to continue operation until a convenient time could be found for shutdown.

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How Piston Rod Vibration Signaled a Reciprocating
Compressor Problem

Changes in piston rod vibration signaled a change in the condition of a reciprocating compressor in ethylene pipeline service.

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Reciprocating compressor instrumented for machinery management

Crosshead acceleration, frame vibration, rod drop and valve cover temperature measurements implemented on an ammonia/CO2 compressor provide helpful machinery management information without impacting machine maintenance activities.

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Quantum chemical compressor monitor

This end user shares his experience in applying rod drop, valve cover temperature monitoring, crosshead acceleration and frame vibration measurements on an ethylene compressor to improve reliability. The article includes several case histories and details on the installation of transducers.

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The value of piston rod vibration measurement in reciprocating compressors

Piston rod vibration signaled a change in machinery condition. Further evaluation, combined with indicated cylinder pressure versus volume (PV) analysis and rod load analysis resulted in a planned outage and discovery of several machine malfunctions.

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Using a Rod Drop Monitor to
prevent cylinder and piston/rod repair

Application of 3300 rod drop and Data Manager® 2000 system provide an indication of rider wear, enabling the plant to avoid extensive outage and repairs.

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Case History ORBIT Articles

Cylinder Pressure Transducer

The indicated cylinder pressure profile, and resulting rod loads, enable early and accurate detection of a variety of reciprocating compressor component malfunction. In order for the rest of the measurements to have diagnostic value on reciprocating compressors, the transducer must provide accurate data for billions of cycles. This article describes the design and testing employed in the development of the 165855 Cylinder Pressure Transducer to ensure it is the most rugged, reliable cylinder pressure transducer on the planet.

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Reciprocating compressor management systems provide solid return on investment

This paper provides an overview of reciprocating compressor condition monitoring technologies and detailed case histories, such as leaking piston rings and leaking valves, explaining how plants have derived value from applying and understanding the information these systems provide.

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Recip Brochure acrobat-reader
Recip Simulator Orbit Article acrobat-reader
Recip Poster - Cylinder Pressure Patterns acrobat-reader
RCK-1 Datasheet acrobat-reader
Orbit-Cylinder Pressure and Rod Load Measurement for Recips acrobat-reader