Monitoring Water Pipes to Detect Cavitation

sensors and cDAQ
We see a lot of potential with this project helping us with other customers in the future

Challenge

A large apartment complex has water pipes that are experiencing cavitation and it is damaging the piping system. The cause of the cavitation had not been determined, but if the pipes rupture it will cause millions of dollars of damage.

Solution

Endigit built a system that monitors the pipes and sends alarms when certain conditions are exceeded. The system uses wireless DAQ, pressure transducers, temperature and flow sensors to record and log the data which can then be analyzed to identify the cause of damage in the piping system.

Introduction

Aquatherm has a client in Vancouver, Canada who has Aquatherm piping in a 19-story apartment building. The system was experiencing cavitation and internal damage. A rupture of the pipes would cost millions of dollars in repairs, yet the cause of the problem had not been identified. They would find leaks in the pipes one to two times per month, but couldn't determine the cause. Aquatherm was exploring options to find the root of the problem, but it seemed to occur randomly and inconsistently. They realized that they needed a way to identify when it was happening. They needed a system that could monitor what was happening with accurate data. As Aquatherm was looking for hardware, they were directed to Endigit by National Instruments and we had a great solution for them.
pump room setup

Process

We had a program with configurable measuring systems that can be viewed live, logged to view later, and logged to be uploaded elsewhere and analyzed. The alarms are part of the configurable system as well. For this application we set the program to use pressure, temperature, or flow sensors simultaneously so that the acquired data could be compared and interactions could be analyzed. There were difficulties in getting the system set up in another country and troubleshooting was very difficult. Once the system was fully installed and data were being collected, the data were then analyzed.
tank setup

Results

After monitoring the data for a few weeks, a problems had been identified. Three of the four expansion tanks were waterlogged and leaking. They had also used expansion tanks that didn't meet the design specifications. They were 15 gallon tanks instead of 100 gallon tanks. In a large system, it is rare to go through and check that everything in the final system meets the design specifications. By monitoring the system, we were able to help Aquatherm pinpoint the problem and provide a solution. Since fixing the expansion tanks they had not had any leaks in the 7 months before this case study was published.

Benefits

  • Reduced water leak frequency by over 10 times
  • Prevented major pipe rupture
  • Identified an item that didn't meet design specs
  • Eliminated concern of the anticipated failure

Hardware

  • Wireless cDAQ 9191
  • IFM SA-5014
  • Analog Input
  • NI PS-12
  • Omega PX409-1.0KAI Pressure Transducer

Software Modules

  • LabVIEW
  • NI MAX
  • DAQmx

Contact Endigit to get started on your monitoring system.