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Case Studies

Case Study: Cooling Tower Installation

Download Full Case Study: Cooling Tower Installation


This case study was performed in May of 2021 by Red Wolf Reliability (formerly Pioneer Engineering) in conjunction with Voyager Instruments and Connection Technology Center.

At this site, the client was commissioning a new cooling tower and was interested in adding the motor and fan gearboxes to the monthly vibration collection for the unit. Cooling towers are frequent choices for vibration monitoring due to their often critical role in maintaining operational efficiencies. Vibration analysis can be used to improve reliability and extend the lifetime of cooling tower equipment.


A key consideration when monitoring cooling towers is human safety during data collection. Oftentimes, there are obstacles that hinder regular collection of vibration data on key pieces of machinery. Potential hazards can range from confined or elevated spaces to process conditions that may pose a negative health risk for the analyst collecting data. In the past, these hindrances may have negatively impacted a vibration condition monitoring program by deterring portable measurements and leading to these pieces of machinery to be excluded from regular monitoring. Remotely installed vibration sensors from CTC can mitigate these circumstances and enable regular, accurate data collection.

At this client site, the obstacle presented for the new cooling tower was that due to the tower design, the machine trains would be located within the tower fill, and therefore inaccessible during operation. Figure 1 depicts cooling tower machine train layout. It is clear that the collection points are completely inaccessible during operation.

Marley Cooling Tower

Figure 1 - Marley Cooling Tower

After discussing the issues posed by this with the Reliability and Maintenance departments, the decision was made to install remote vibration sensors across the machine train before commissioning to allow data collection during operation.

Over the course of two days, Red Wolf Reliability field service personnel and client maintenance staff were able to drill and tap multiple locations on the motors and gearboxes to thread and secure the sensors (CTC Model AC192-D accelerometers) in place to ensure reliable collection of vibration data. These particular sensors were chosen because they have the right frequency and amplitude ranges for this application.

AC192 Compact Multipurpose Accelerometer

CONNECTOR, 100 mV/G, ±10%

  • 24-780,000 CPM Frequency Response (±3dB)
  • -58 to 250°F (-50 to 121°C) Temperature Range
  • Welded, Hermetic Sealing
  • High Performance in an Affordable Compact Sensor
  • Very Low Noise and Superior RF Immunity
AC192 Typical Frequency Response Chart
AC192 Typical Frequency Response Chart

While not used for this case study, CTC also offers a side exit version of this sensor with similar specifications.

AC194 Compact Multipurpose Accelerometer

EXIT 2 PIN CONNECTOR, 100 mV/G, ±10%

  • 30-600,000 CPM Frequency Response (±3dB)
  • -58 to 250°F (-50 to 121°C) Temperature Range
  • Welded, Hermetic Sealing
  • High Performance in an Affordable, Side Exit, Compact Sensor
  • Very Low Noise and Superior RF Immunity
AC194 Typical Frequency Response Chart
AC194 Typical Frequency Response Chart

The MIL style connector was chosen over an integral cable so that any sensor replacement would not require pulling wire as well. All CTC sensors and cabling are covered under an industry-leading unconditional lifetime warranty, so taking advantage of a component-based system enables any part of the system to be swapped out easily if unforeseen damage should occur. In locations that were not able to be drilled, Pioneer field personnel were able to use adhesive to affix the vibration sensors to the machine.

A Series Connector


  • Connector Options include standard, right angle, and hydraulic hose
  • Material Options include polycarbonate, polyurethane, nylon, and polyphenylene sulfide (PPS)

With this portion of the project complete, Red Wolf Reliability field personnel then coordinated with the E&I department to run conduit, pull/label the cables, and finally test the connections to ensure installation was done correctly with working components. After the tower was commissioned and machine trains were up and running, field service staff were able to pull baseline data from the trains to confirm no potential faults were present in the machines.

Without CTC remote vibration sensors and cables these machine trains would be completely unprotected, and potential faults would not be able to be detected until it was too late, resulting in possible operational impacts or even safety concerns with operation.

Cooling Tower Installation Figure 2
Cooling Tower Installation Figure 3
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