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JUL-AUG 2019

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34 INTECH JULY/AUGUST 2019 WWW.ISA.ORG Acoustic monitoring systems By Rudolf Muench, Dipl.-Ing. T he monitoring systems used today in hy dropower plants are based on a num- ber of sensors that are directly mounted to the machines. The monitoring systems generate alarms if certain threshold values are exceeded. These thresholds are normally static limits based on technical standards or based on experience during the commissioning phase. An acoustic monitoring system enables continu- ous monitoring of a large number of components and equipment simultaneously with only a few sensors. Applying cloud-based machine learning algorithms enables the detection of anomalies and clustering of typical machine behaviors. The acoustic monitoring system emphasizes security and privacy regarding communication and prevents any interference with the safety and control system of the hydropower plant by design, as only one-way data transfer away from the hydropower plant is enabled. It further pro- vides a cost-effective solution for monitoring ex- isting hydropower plants, because it requires no physical modifications of the equipment itself. Challenges of hydropower plants One major challenge is the remote location of many hydropower plants. Some are very hard to reach, while others are not reachable in wintertime or during bad weather conditions like a monsoon. Another challenge relates to the level of expertise and staff training in rural areas. Most big hydro - power development projects therefore require extensive training of local labor for the safe opera- tion of the plant. Furthermore, the continuous reduction of main - tenance personnel in recent years and decades affects plants even in well-structured areas. Many plants are unmanned and are only visited for in- spection purposes in intervals of weeks or months. This raises the concern that something could hap - pen the day after an inspection round has been finished, and then go unnoticed and cause severe damage over time. Smart monitoring systems, such as the proposed acoustic monitoring system, will autonomously monitor the running equipment. A requirement of such systems is the data connectivity of these Deployed using a safe and secure cloud approach

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