Upstream Problem in a Harsh Environment

A chemical plant was experiencing an unusually high seal failure rate on a 65% Nitric Acid transfer pump. Mean time between failure (MTBF) was limited to only one month. Failure analysis revealed classic signs of dry running, but the end user insisted that this was not the cause. A new seal was installed under the supervision of the seal manufacturer, the environmental control plan was inspected, and operation data from the control system was reviewed. All was found to be satisfactory, and all agreed that there was no obvious indication of installation or operation issues.
IoT pressure and temperature sensors designed to withstand harsh acidic environments were installed on the seal chamber to augment the existing control system which did not provide coverage. After only a few days, data showed that the seal chamber was experiencing negative pressure while the pump was in operation. Due to the negative pressure, the mechanical seals were found to be experiencing symptoms that were identical to, but not caused by dry running. After further inspection it was found that an upstream valve was restricting flow to the pump. After adjustment, the seal chamber pressure levels were brought back to specification.
After performing the corrective maintenance, the MTBF of the mechanical seal was estimated to have increased from 1 month to 24 months, resulting in a per incident equipment cost of $30K, totaling ~$700K in total savings (not including the cost of labor). By quickly installing rugged sensors in a harsh environment on an expensive asset, the customer was able to pinpoint the problem without having to modify the existing control system.

Download our whitepaper

Contact us