Common Reasons for Pressure Transmitter Failure

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Electronic pressure transmitters are an integral sensor element in tens of thousands of devices ranging from refrigeration systems to cranes.  Pressure transmitters convert an applied pressure into an electrical signal, which is then transmitted to a device such as a computer, programmable logic controller, recorder, or digital meter to analyze the electrical signal and utilize it to display, record, or modify the device’s pressure.

Although most electronic pressure transmitters are rugged, solid-state devices, they do have a finite lifetime and are susceptible to damage from various sources.

Causes for Pressure Transmitter Failure

Misapplication

Given the bewildering variety of pressure transmitters available today, it is not surprising that one of the most common reasons for electronic pressure sensor failure is misapplication. Misapplication means using the wrong type of transmitter for an application. Some common misapplications include using a general industrial pressure transmitter in a bulldozer or agricultural combine, for example, or using a tank level transmitter incompatible with the media stored in the tank.

Vibration and/or Shock

Vibration literally shakes equipment apart over time, and impacts or shocks to a device only worsen the problem. WIKA's electronic pressure transmitters are designed from the ground up to resist shock and vibration, and each and every one of these rugged electronic pressure transmitters undergoes 20 mechanical tests in the factory before shipping.

Overpressure and Pressure Spikes

Any device used in an environment above its recommended pressure range is under stress and may have a reduced lifetime. Pressure spikes are also common in some applications. Valves have to be operated when running hydraulic equipment such as earth movers or dump trucks, and this can produce pressure spikes capable of damaging pressure transmitters. Because of these applications, all WIKA electronic pressure transmitters go through a complete battery of tests including impact resistance and housing stability.

Temperature

Electronic devices are designed to operate within specified temperature ranges. Long-term use above or below the specifications is likely to lead to early failure. The repeated expansion and contraction involved in temperature cycling degrades gaskets and even the housing of the transmitter, leading to separation and creating leak paths. Any experienced process engineer or industrial vehicle mechanic can testify to the importance of using pressure transmitters designed to be able to handle temperature extremes. 

Water

Everyone knows to avoid getting water in an electronic device, but incidental contact with water is almost unavoidable in many applications. The bottom line is all electronic pressure transmitters should be completely sealed.  All WIKA pressure transmitters are thoroughly tested for water ingress as part of the more than 50 environmental tests we perform as part of our quality control process.

Electrical Interference

Although electrical interference can be an issue for electronics given the proliferation of electrical interference sources, most electronic devices today are well-shielded. But when that shielding degrades, electromagnetic or radiofrequency interference can cause pressure transmitter problems such as signal instability or signal inaccuracy. WIKA electronic pressure transmitters are subjected to 10 separate electrical tests including overvoltage resistance and load dump.

Chemical Damage

Whether from caustic process media or fertilizers and pesticides sprayed from agricultural machines, pressure transmitters are almost inevitably exposed to corrosive chemicals which can ultimately shorten the lifetime of the device. The simple solution to this problem is to ensure that your pressure sensors are constructed from materials compatible with the chemicals to which they may be exposed.

Let WIKA's knowledgeable professionals help you avoid the pitfalls of pressure transmitter failure and expensive downtime. Take advantage of decades of instrumentation expertise and let us help you make sure you are using the right pressure transmitters for the job.

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