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Many companies have bad actor pumps. Bad actor pumps are the ones that always seem to have problems. They suck up the maintenance department’s time, budget, and patience, and never seem to be fully cured of what ails them. Sometimes it takes both process knowledge from the maintenance department and specialized pump knowledge to return pump performance.
Here’s an example of a pump that caused years of headache for one maintenance department, and how accessing a different pool of resources solved its challenging case.
A northern Wisconsin paper mill had an ongoing issue with a critical chemical feed pump, a Goulds 3298, used to maintain boiler performance. For years the pump had been unable to supply the system with the proper pressure. The maintenance department rebuilt the pump several times in hopes they would get some relief.
The Maintenance Manager asked Crane Engineering to take a look at the pump and quote its repair. The pump was sent back to Crane’s Service Center, an Authorized Repair Center for Goulds Pumps.
As a standard procedure of all factory authorized repairs, the pump was fully disassembled, inspected and photographed. During inspection, the service technician noticed that even though the external portions of the pump were damaged beyond repair, the pump internals were found to be in perfect condition. The performance issues in the field were not caused by pump failure. Something else caused the lost performance.
Crane returned to the site and evaluated the entire system with the maintenance department to determine the root cause of the issue. The piping system was evaluated and found to be adequate. Next, the process conditions were recorded and compared to the specific hydraulic curve for that pump. That’s where they noticed a problem.
They realized the pump installed in this location would never satisfy their process at the 1800 RPM provided by the current 20HP motor. The Maintenance Manager checked the pump’s file and found that the original configuration showed a 3600 RPM pump curve.
It was determined that during one of the repairs of this pump, an 1800 RPM motor must have been installed instead of the correct 3600 RPM motor. The switch easily went unnoticed as the two motors share the same 256T frame size. At the slower RPM, the pump could never deliver enough pressure for the application.
Because the exterior of the pump was damaged beyond repair, Crane quoted a replacement pump with the correct RPM motor. Once the new pump and motor were installed, the pressure was restored to the boiler. The process has been running smoothly ever since resulting in significant time and budget savings to the paper mill.