Integrated solutions, incorporating upgrades to parts such as bearings, seals and lubricants, meet the pressing need to enhance pump performance, says Phil Burge, ­communication manager, SKF

Over recent years, the development of industrial pumps has been geared towards reducing the total cost of ownership and the need to comply with increasingly tough environmental legislation.

Today, the challenge for pump manufacturers is to increase the meantime between failures, while at the same time reducing energy consumption (accounting for up to 45 per cent of operating cost) to meet energy standards. For end users, the challenge is to find ways of pushing pumps to their operational limits, in an effort to boost productivity, without increasing maintenance or replacement costs.

Higher throughput, however, requires greater rotational speeds, which in turn leads to higher temperatures, greater noise and vibration. The potential results include more frequent pump bearing failures and costly downtime to repair often production-critical equipment.

However, these challenges can be overcome by capitalising on improved condition monitoring techniques, better installation and setup, and by upgrades to parts such as bearings, seals and lubricants.

A series of pump solutions are available by partnering with an experienced engineering partner. These solutions vary with the needs and goals of each particular facility, but generally involve some combination of self-aligning and/or low-friction bearings, automatic lubrication systems and maintenance and reliability services. By applying integrated pump solutions, customers can avoid the expense of replacing underperforming pumps and enjoy a range of benefits, including reduced vibration levels, lower operating temperatures, and increased reliability.

The installation of better bearings that offer higher resistance to wear and damage, include high load capabilities, higher speed ratings and improved service life, will benefit both heavy and light duty industrial pumps. For example, by using SKF Explorer class bearings, lubricant consumption, as well as vibration and noise levels, are reduced. Energy efficient double row angular contact ball bearings are now available that correspond in design to two single-row ACBB but take up less axial space. Depending on operating conditions, the bearings can save at least 30 per cent of frictional moment compared with standard bearings and in some applications 50 per cent or more, while operating temperatures can be up to 30°C cooler, depending on speed. This improved performance provides additional benefits including longer grease life and extended re-lubrication intervals, further reducing maintenance and running costs.

Industrial pumps are usually hard to access, which can make maintenance ­procedures difficult and, as a consequence, more than one third of premature bearing failures are caused by lubrication issues such as inadequate lubricant application. This can be avoided by installing fully automatic lubrication ­systems that enable maximum bearing service life and reduced operating costs. Another efficient option is to install pumps equipped with sealed, greased-for-life bearings that are considered to be maintenance-free, increasing ­meantime before failure (MTBF) and reducing total costs.

Energy consumption makes up 45 per cent of the total cost of owning a pump; pumping systems account for nearly 20 per cent of the world’s ­electrical demand, and can account for 20-25 per cent of energy usage in an industrial plant operation. The energy efficiency of a pump declines over time due to factors such as the characteristics of the fluid being pumped, cavitation, and scaling, and studies have shown that the energy efficiency of pumping systems can typically be improved up to 20 per cent, representing significant potential savings. To evaluate pump performance, manufacturing and processing facility ­managers can now take advantage of innovative pump engineering services that promote reliable operation even in remote or hard-to-access locations.

To achieve the goal of increasing pump performance while decreasing maintenance and downtime, SKF’s pump upgrade services address heat-related issues, noise and vibration issues, and safety and environmental concerns for pumps of all kinds. After assessing the conditions and needs of a given facility, SKF makes upgrade recommendations. Ultimately, the customer decides on the specific pump upgrades they would like. Whatever the decision, engineering companies now have the opportunity to exploit an expanding portfolio of pump solutions that reduce the need for maintenance, increase productivity and contribute to a healthier bottom line.


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