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Friday, 1 June 2018

Tune pressure gauges for best pump performance & other best practices

My name is Christian Dillstrom and the last ten years I have been a global growth hacker. I am also a business author with over 24 million readers, so I know the value of expert advice.

I have clients from many, many different industries. Today, I am learning about plunger and multiplex pumps which are, for example, used in the oil&gas and water industries.

I’m always looking for new insights, so I am very pleased when I encounter professionals like Joe Bichler, a pump expert from Grand Rapids, USA. The topic of this article series is plunger pumps and how to foolproof and maintain them for best performance.

Hello again Joe!
Last time we spoke about seals and how they contribute to preventing plunger pump issues.
Before that, we learned about general issues with plunger pumps.
What other hints can you give us?
Another preventative remedy is choosing the right pressure gauge. Select a gauge that will allow you to monitor more than just the operating pressure of the pump. For example, if your pump is operating at 1000 psi, don’t use a 4000 psi gauge, but choose a glycerin filled gauge rated between 1500 and 2000 psi.

A cheap presse gauge, chosen correctly,
can alert you to excess pulsation, cavitation or potential valve failure.

By lowering the rating of the gauge to 1.5 to 2 X the operating pressure, the behavior of the gauge can give you more nuanced hints as to how your pump is performing than would a 4X gauge simply by being more sensitive. It can alert you to excess pulsation, cavitation or potential valve failure. Gauges are cheap, too. Keep plenty on hand. 

That is great advice! What else can our readers do to avoid failures?

The best safeguard against unplanned shut-down or system failure
is establishing good preventative maintenance practices.

Multiple piston and plunger pump have really simple designs and can be maintained without special tools according to their data sheet. The below suggestions are a basic guideline. Keep plenty of spares: Plungers / pistons, stuffing box packings and valves!

Make sure that the fluid end material is compatible with the media you want to pump!

Fluid end materials are typically constructed of Cast Ductile Iron (CDI), Nickel Aluminum Bronze,(NAB), 304 and 316 Stainless Steel (SS), Duplex Stainless Steel (DSS) and Hastelloy. Incompatibility can lead to significant operational issues due to corrosion etc.

Choose the right crankcase oil.

Make certain you are using the manufacturer’s recommended grade of oil as specified in the power end crankcase. Crankcase oil should be changed after the first 50 hours of operation and after every 300 hours of operation.

Regularly check system performance.

If the pump speed remains constant and the system performance changes, check the system immediately and adjust your maintenance cycle accordingly. If there is no wear at 1500 hours, check again at 2000 hours and each 500 hours until wear is observed. Valves typically require changing every other seal change.

Start with this pump maintenance check list

Duty cycle, temperature, quality of pumped liquid and inlet feed conditions all effect the life of pump wear parts and service cycle. Remember to service the regulator/unloader/relief valve at each seal servicing and check all system accessories and connections before resuming operation. 

The recommended daily checks are:
                 Clean filters
                 Check for oil level and oil quality. Degradation in the quality of the oil could indicate a problem
                 Check for oil leaks
                 Check for water leaks

Weekly checks should be:
                 Check drive belts and pulleys 
                 Check suction and discharge piping

Other checks you might want to do:
                 After 50 hours of operation: Initial oil change
                 Every 300 hours: Change oil
                 Every 500 hours: Change seals, stuffing box and wiper box packing
                 Every 1000 hours or as needed: Change valves

Thank you Joe for this interview!
This concludes the series about plunger pumps problems. I already look forward to our next series!