After my previous blog post on the NERC-CIP Plant Tour, colleagues asked questions about the systems mentioned. One of the questions that took some time to answer, and required a lot of explanation, was regarding vibration monitoring systems, specifically the Bently system. While the term “vibration monitoring” seems to be self defining, there are some nuances to be aware of. Bently systems measure vibration in the rotating shaft through a set of very accurate eddy current sensors, super advanced versions of the road loops that detect your car at a stop light. This allows the Bently to give a much more accurate measurement of vibration, and to also measure it directly at the shaft rather than by inferring it from other sources.
In broad strokes, the question was “Is Vibration Monitoring a critical piece of plant operation?” Basically, my colleague was unsure of exactly how the vibration monitoring system he was looking at fit into the whole control scheme at the plant. My answer was, of course, the usual engineer answer of “It depends”, which I’m aware is thoroughly frustrating to the supposedly standardized world of information security.