The recently commissioned BOC Australia plant located near the capital of Australia’s Northern Territory is a major investment for BOC and of growing strategic importance for reliable Helium supplies to Australian and foreign markets.

Historically helium has been imported into Australia from the US and the Middle East.

Given the rarity of helium and that there is no other source in the Southern Hemisphere, replacement of supplies at short notice due to production limitations is expensive and difficult. Shortfalls would be unavoidable because of the lead time involved so plant reliability is essential to realisation of the business case.

All major BOC plants in the region are remotely operated from their South Pacific Remote Operations Centre (ROC) in Sydney with limited operational activity performed locally.

The Darwin Helium plant was designed for remote operations and after a proving period will also be operated from the ROC. For the past 10 years, the use of Tui Industries’ ozWatch® Continuous Condition Monitoring service has been an important part of the Operations & Maintenance strategy for safe and reliable operations.

This allows the ROC engineers to see the condition of their rotating machinery in real-time even though they may be thousands of kilometres away, and provides early detection of developing faults.

Given the importance of machinery reliability at Darwin Helium and the success experienced with ozWatch® at other plants, it was an obvious choice to extend the ozWatch® system for monitoring services to ensure the plant reaches its full business potential.

Due to the lack of specialised support locally, every significant piece of rotating machinery other than a set of inaccessible hi-speed turbines, was included in the monitoring scope. Around 180 sensors were installed to deliver real-time data back to the Tui Industries Remote Monitoring Centre in Brisbane and to BOC allowing collaboration from parties anywhere in the world.

ozWatch® raises alerts to both ROC engineers and Tui Industries’ own team of engineers who analyse the continuous spectral vibration data together with oil analysis results, recent maintenance history and other relevant machine information centralised within the ozWatch® system to form an overall picture of machinery condition.

Tui Industries works together with the ROC engineers, the CBM Engineer & local personnel to consider production requirements, planned outage opportunities, and business objectives to bring about the best possible business outcome once a fault is detected. This includes changes to the operational mode of the equipment if necessary and where possible, thus the early detection of faults allows BOC to better manage the rectification of the conditions identified.

BOC Australia’s parent company, The Linde Group, has recognised the extensive benefits delivered by ozWatch® and is now using the ozWatch® service in 6 countries throughout South Pacific, South & South East Asia, and Middle East regions, and is realising significant cost reduction in improved uptime, reduced maintenance cost and other indirect savings providing them with a tangible competitive advantage.