What is a Field Test?
A field test is a test used to verify that an installed centrifugal pump is operating as expected.
The final step in most pump procurement contracts is the successful completion of field testing. Once a pump has been subjected to factory testing, received on site, and installed, it is common for a final test of the installed pump to be performed prior to final approval of the pump installation.
Field testing is not required by all pump supply contracts, but when it is required it is the final step in the pump startup procedure.
Field tests are usually relatively simple affairs. A typical field test procedure includes the following operations:
- Power measurements: Virtually every field test will involve confirmation that the pump is operating within the rated horsepower stamped on the motor nameplate. In many cases, this is confirmed by reading values provided by the pump control panel. However, in some cases special instrumentation may be used to take more precise readings.
- Bearing temperatures: In some cases the pump may be allowed to operate for long enough that bearing temperatures stabilize, and it can be confirmed that bearing temperatures are within the parameters recommended by the manufacturer.
- Vibration measurements: Simple vibration measurements are often taken to verify that the pump exhibits vibration levels below a pre-determined level.
- Noise levels: In some cases, noise measurements may be taken to confirm that the noise levels exhibited by the pump are motor are acceptable.
- Hydraulic performance: Depending on the instrumentation available, head and flow measurements may also be taken.
The point of a field test is to verify that the pump is operating acceptably in the field. The specific procedures and requirements will vary a bit from one pump to the next, and from one purchaser to the next. A simple field test procedure for a small pump may take just a few minutes while a more complex field test of a large expensive pump may take several days.
It’s important to note that field testing is conducted to approve the installation of a centrifugal pump and the interoperability of all of the components that make up the pumping system. Approval and acceptance of the centrifugal pump itself are usually on the basis of the completion of factory tests.