There are two directions that can be taken in material selection for valves and pumps in abrasive slurries. One is to add hardened coatings to the inner parts in contact with the fluid. Commonly used coatings are stellite and tungsten carbide. Even ceramic materials can be effective to deal with abrasion. The other, less expensive option is to use rubber or polyurethane materials. In this case, the abrasive particles bounce off the rubber and cause minimal damage. Due to the wide range of rubber materials, rubber can sometimes be more effective for the combination of corrosive and abrasive slurries. For instance, an ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) material can withstand many chemicals and has good abrasion resistance as well.
Two of the most effective materials when dealing with abrasion are natural rubber and styrene butadiene. Centrifugal, progressive cavity and diaphragm pumps all use rubber elements such as rubber wear linings, diaphragms and stators to combat abrasive wear.
IIoT Connecitivity & Predictive Analytics
Today with Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) connectivity, it is possible to add digital outputs to almost any piece of equipment including pumps and valves to track all types of information. Machine learning tracks new condition readings and begins to report anomalies observed from the digital or analog inputs that are trending outside the new condition readings.
There are significant upsides to using IIoT monitoring systems equipped with predictive analytics to reduce operating costs and improve productivity. Some companies are reporting that they are gaining as much as an additional month of production per year. Companies employing IIoT equipment monitoring often perform in the top 25 percent when compared to their peers.
A simple example of monitoring pump condition is vibration monitoring of both the motor condition and main bearing condition.
Vibration monitoring can pick up minute vibrations that may be indicating the beginning of bearing failure. If not caught and addressed, the complete bearing failure can damage the entire pump casing leading to significant repairs, costs and downtime. But repairing a simple inexpensive bearing early helps to reduce costs and downtime. Pumps are vital to almost all operations globally, and they are often the most under-analyzed and least connected devices in production operations. The ability to capture this type of information allows maintenance teams to transform from reactive maintenance to proactive maintenance. A sizeable production facility can save millions in maintenance costs and show healthy gains in productivity.
A means to further improve IIoT capabilities can be the use of digital twin imagery that can be accessed by smartphones, tablets and PCs anywhere. This allows personnel to access necessary data at a moment’s notice without needing to travel to a central control room. Personnel can be standing in front of a piece of equipment and see all the readings from that machinery.
In the digital twin imagery, a comprehensive document management tool can be embedded so that all manuals, drawings, spare parts and repair videos can be accessed by any interested personnel. In a typical plant, maintenance personnel may waste four to eight hours researching documentation prior to any work beginning on a disabled or malfunctioning asset. With embedded document management tools, all necessary documents and information are a few clicks away. This helps to improve response time and, in some cases, rescue an asset in trouble prior to catastrophic failure and improve productivity.
In conclusion, harsh conditions are just another challenge that needs to be addressed. Choosing the correct equipment in these harsh conditions can have a much larger impact than choosing one pump versus another in the more common processes. The operating expense of the harsh conditions can balloon out of control if the wrong equipment is used. Also with the trend toward IIoT and connecting assets, users can capture valuable information to improve their process, reduce operating expense, increase productivity and increase profitability.