News Archives: GPRC graduate investigating new ways to predict hydraulic pump failure
Monday, August 12th, 2019
GPRC alumnus Jon Fernandes (right) is working with Dr. Travis Wiens on research that uses pressure response measures to predict hydraulic pump failure
A GPRC alumnus is researching ways to prevent catastrophic pump failures.
Current master’s student at the University of Saskatchewan and holder of a GPRC ThinkBIG Service Technician diploma, Jon Fernandes is examining how to predict failure in hydraulic pumps using pressure response measurements. Pump failures can be catastrophic, and replacing them sometimes costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. “Knowing when a pump is about to fail saves a lot of money and headaches,” said Dr. Travis Wiens, assistant professor of engineering at USask and lead investigator on the project.
Researchers are exploring a variety of methods of failure prediction, such as vibration monitoring, oil sample analysis, and particle counters. Fernandes says these methods are not always able to capture the full range of failures that could occur; for example, vibration sensors may predict bearing failure, but might not be able to determine whether the pump is failing volumetrically. “Pressure response measurements can tell us how the pump changes dynamically to a disturbance,” said Fernandes. “Based off of that information, we can try to get a good algorithm to predict how worn the pump is.”
Fernandes says the work has been challenging, but fun as well. “I’m enjoying the wins along the way,” he said. “The thing I probably enjoy the most is seeing some very theoretical prediction actually work out practically. We can do all this theory and high level analysis, but then actually seeing it work in practice is so satisfying.”
Fernandes’s hands-on technical educational experience at GPRC and work in the industry as a mechanic prepared him well for the next step of his education. “My experience at GPRC was very positive,” he said. “The instructors were really knowledgeable. Darcy [Moss] was amazing.”
Wiens says graduates of programs like ThinkBIG at GPRC don’t always realize the full variety of career paths they can take, including graduate studies. “I definitely see that kind of technical background as a plus when I’m looking for students,” said Wiens. “These types of graduates have a good combination of hands-on and theoretical knowledge. Jon is teaching us things in the lab that he knew from his mechanics education that we didn’t necessarily know.”
Fernandes expects to graduate with his Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of Saskatchewan in December 2019.
Learn more about GPRC’s ThinkBIG program here.