Continuous vibration monitoring eliminates costly problems

What if you need to blast a new hydro-plant 60 meters into solid rock next to an older plant in full
operation including the turbines, water reservoir and everything else? With the right measurement
system you can safely avoid dangerous vibrations and still accomplish blasting at optimal levels.

Portugal is not really known as a producer of hydro-power, but there are a hundred power plants operating on the country’s rivers. Electricity from these facilities will increase according to a government program aiming to produce more renewable energy. One project is at Bemposta on the Duoro River near the Spanish border, where a power plant from the 1960’s is being expanded with a sister plant providing 191 megawatts.

The construction contract has been awarded to SOMAGUE, which is one of Portugal’s leading construction companies. We met with project manager Matos Fernandes who has an intricate assignment in the first phase of the project.

Full vibration control
The new facility requires that extensive explosions occur near the existing power plant. The engine room will be located in a 60 meter deep shaft. For water flow control a main tunnel will be blasted, along with several smaller shafts and maintenance and access tunnels.

The client, the Portuguese energy authority, has strict requirements for continuous vibration monitoring, but Matos feels right at home with the Sigicom systems. Confidence in the system is important. Two data loggers units with five sensors capture and analyze all vibration data. Sensors on the turbine and generator makes it possible to effectively adjust the explosion levels correctly, thereby avoiding disruption and possible damage. At the same time Sigicom’s automated system reduces labor cost for the measurement activity.

Complete data records of all vibrations are maintained for future reference, but Matos also appreciates the immediate access to the measurement results and the clear presentation. At the beginning of the work, measurement results were sent via SMS to the blast manager and to Matos himself. He can connect to the network at anytime and obtain current data.

The system also uses the Internet – one more bonus of INFRA, says Matos.