Pipeline Receives Pump & Seal Improvements

Seal upgrade and pump repair in the U.S. midwest boost efficiency and reliability with minimal downtime.

Written by: Ken Babusiak, John Ciffone
Publisher: Pumps & Systems / November 2016

 

Mechanical seals on pumps in the oil and gas industry often need to be upgraded to meet more stringent standards, such as tighter emissions regulations. More advanced seals also offer companies increased efficiency and reliability.

Older pumps, however, sometimes need to be modified to accommodate these enhancements because the newer parts may not be the same size and shape as the ones they are replacing. In these cases, a parts supplier can partner with an aftermarket engineering firm to come up with a long-term plan for revitalizing older pumps. The refurbished pumps can offer benefits including direct cost savings and a reduction in repair and maintenance.

An Upgrade Plan Emerges

In 2011, a field service engineer was at a pipeline station for service when a technician informed him that the company was considering overhauling all of its pumps as preventive maintenance. The company planned to investigate the possibility of upgrading mechanical seals.

The field service engineer and his team decided to analyze all of the user’s pumping stations from Illinois to Iowa—about 500 miles of pipeline. Every field service engineer who worked on the pipeline met in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where a regional engineer led a meeting about what would be the best technology solution for this user.

The team decided to replace the existing single mechanical seals with a mechanical seal developed specifically for single-seal installations and designed to attain maximum achievable controllable technology (MACT) compliance in light hydrocarbons and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Image 1. The bottom half of the coupling end bearing housing installed on the pump with the bottom half of the journal bearing, oil rings and seals installed (Images courtesy of Hydro Inc.)

Image 1. The bottom half of the coupling end bearing housing installed on the pump with the bottom half of the journal bearing, oil rings and seals installed (Images courtesy of Hydro Inc.)

The field service engineers provided information on the pumps in their area, the seal data and the coupling information. All of the pumps would require minor modifications to accommodate these new seals. The team collated information about the pumps and wrote the necessary engineering projects for the preliminary drawings. Once the drawings were approved and finalized, the pumps were sent to a pump repair and service provider to be upgraded to accept the higher-technology seal.

Continue reading

Setting the New Pump Testing Standard

The pump industry faces a challenge in keeping up with changing efficiency regulations. Programs such as the Hydraulic Institute (HI) Pump Test Lab Approval (PTLA) are helping companies adhere to these standards. Here, we see how Hydro, Inc. made history with the first HI PTLA certification.

Written by: Michelle Segrest
Publisher: World Pumps / June 2016

 

With an engineering first approach, Chicago’s Hydro, Inc., proves the impact of redesigned and engineered pumps by testing their real-time hydraulic and mechanical performance at its state-of-the-art Test Lab. It is in the 46,000-square-foot- facility that Hydro develops and implements engineering modifications for improving the performance of critical pumps and then verifies that performance in the lab.

Thanks to high-quality capabilities in testing vertical, horizontal, and submersible pumps, Hydro made history in September 2015 by becoming the first recipient of full certification of the new Hydraulic Institute Pump Test Lab Approval program.

This new industry standard is designed to assist pump OEMs and other pump test laboratories to improve their current laboratory procedures and policies by working with a third-party auditor to develop and maintain accurate, uniform and repeatable pump testing protocols. The program also helps participating organizations adhere to the requirements of the international test laboratory accreditation standard (ISO 17025) concerning test measurement equipment.

“Hydro’s test lab is unique because it was designed to support the aftermarket by having the flexibility to test a wide range and variety of custom engineered pumps,” said George Harris, Hydro CEO and Founder. “Since it is not incorporated in a plant which manufactures new pump production, as is the case with many large OEMs, it is possible to test a customer’s pump in 1-to-3 weeks lead time. This is very important because customers who need a certified test, need the pump tested quickly.”

Since it opened in 2010, Hydro’s 5,000-Horsepower Test Lab has helped to troubleshoot problems with pumps in the field by isolating the pump from its system in a controlled environment to simulate field conditions in a safe manner.

“Hydro remains independent of the constraints that can be imposed by relying on existing hydraulic designs and manufacturers’ predicted performance curves,” said Jeff Johnson, Vice President, Hydro, Inc., a 41-year industry veteran who was instrumental in the design and construction of Hydro’s Test Lab. “All of these efforts ultimately lead to a more reliable and well understood pump performance.”

fig-258

Single-stage horizontal split case (BB1) pump test with customer motor – test loop.

Continue reading

Shortcuts Can Lead to Disastrous Outcomes

Design flaws cause catastrophic failure in a geothermal power station hotwell in New Zealand.

Written by: Chandra Verma (Hydro, Inc.)
Publisher: Pumps & Systems / August 2016

 

Despite well-documented pump system standards and basic requirements, omission of certain crucial design steps remains a problem in the industry, often causing disastrous outcomes for the end user. When suppliers, manufacturers and/or contractors take shortcuts, technical and commercial risk can present serious ramifications for a large project.Communication failures between the end user’s staff, suppliers and contractors can intensify problems, especially when pumps that may not be appropriate for a given job are commissioned and put into service. Without the end user’s knowledge, a facility may install pumps that have not been properly tested for the application, were fabricated to inferior standards or subject to other shortcuts that adversely affect performance.Sometimes the end user becomes aware of shortcut-derived flaws during the commissioning stage. Other times, problems in equipment or system design might not be evident immediately—they surface during subsequent plant and equipment maintenance that reveals potentially dangerous, hidden conditions. The ensuing problems can lead to tense project politics and expensive rectification, including hiring independent consultants.

Suppliers, manufacturers and contractors take shortcuts for various reasons. These shortcuts can be attributed to a lack of experience with how a pump might be deployed in the field. There may be miscommunication of technical details from both the user and supplier or between the user and contractor.

Budget constraints and concerns can also result in omissions; commercial reality can cause a manufacturer or supplier to make a project’s bottom line cheaper by reducing the cost of equipment and cutting corners.

fig-5d-aandb-velocity-dist

Figure 1. The velocity distribution of the original (left) and modified geometries (right)

Continue reading

How Root-Cause Analysis Solved a Vertical Turbine Pump Failure

A comprehensive approach to reverse engineering helped to establish the differences between the stainless steel and original bronze impellers.

Written by:  Hydro, Inc.
Publisher: Pumps & Systems / March 2016

 

When a severe pump failure involving one of three installed circulating water makeup pumps happened, facility personnel grew concerned about the root cause. The subject pump failed just 40 days after its commissioning.
3-b-page-1-fig-a-right

Image 1. A crack in the discharge head flange that involved fatigue failure of the weld of a pump.

7-d-page-1-fig-b

Image 2 (right). The pump’s impeller wear ring landing shows heavy scoring.

The equipment in question consisted of three-stage vertical turbine pumps running either in standalone or in parallel operation as required. The failure manifested itself through high vibration and caused severe scoring of the pump shaft and wear ring landings, leading to fatigue failure of the weld on the discharge head flange (see Images 1 and 2). The commissioned pump was refurbished and rebuilt by another company’s service center with spare impellers supplied by an original equipment manufacturer. No changes to the geometry had reportedly been made, although the impeller material had been upgraded from bronze to stainless steel.

The plant initiated its internal root-cause analysis process, and the failed pump required emergency repair. The station sought a company to conduct the repair, and the firm reviewed the customer-supplied documents and background providing the possible causes of the failure. Continue reading

Advanced Engineering Boosts Reliability in Boiler Feed Pump

This approach incorporated reverse engineering, design verification and casting simulation to address equipment failure.

Written by: Dr. Gary Dyson and Jesse Stinson (Hydro, Inc.)
Publisher: Pumps & Systems / December 2015

 

Pump technology requires the extensive use of castings to form the complex shapes needed to guide process fluids through the machine. The shape of these passages is crucial to the machine’s performance.

Pump designers spend extensive time designing and optimizing the shapes of these passages to optimize the machine’s efficiency. Unfortunately, casting processes cannot always represent the pump engineer’s true design intent, and the manufacturing processes have a direct impact on the machine’s reliability and design integrity. Designers take these processes into account when proposing their designs, but sometimes the deficiencies of the casting process become apparent after a major equipment failure.

One example involved determining the root cause behind the first-stage failure of a Worthington 12-WCND-166 six-stage boiler feed pump. The pump exhibited high vibration and performance degradation, and it was taken out of service. The inspection determined that a crack had resulted from a welded core plug. Continue reading