When you work in a metal fabrication industry, hydraulic machines and centrifugal pumps are standard operating equipment. Unfortunately, they can also be a source of budget fatigue due to costly repairs from operating mistakes. If you're spending more than you've planned to keep your hydraulic systems running or you're facing downtime on your production lines, there are a few things that you should know. Here are some tips to help you minimize the strain on your centrifugal pumps to help you maintain hydraulic pressure without facing costly repairs.
Don't Use Valves To Throttle Flow
When your pumps are too large for the hydraulic system they're regulating, you may find that you have excessive fluid flow through the system. If your engineers have opted for using valves on the discharge side of your centrifugal pumps to throttle back that flow in an effort to regulate your production speeds, you'll want to step in right away. Throttling flow this way can lead to erosion inside the pump, because the pump is still trying to produce the same flow and things are backing up inside. Over time, this can cause bearing and seal failures, which will cost you significantly in repairs and downtime.
Instead of risking unplanned downtime in your production schedule and the costly repairs that come with it, take some time to evaluate each of your pumps to be sure that they are sized appropriately for your manufacturing line. When the pump's output rate is ideal for your operation, you won't need to install valves in an attempt to slow things down. While the new pump purchases may cost you some up front, that investment could save you significantly over time.
Don't Dismiss Power Cycling
If you notice that your centrifugal pumps are turning on and off repeatedly and frequently during a busy production run, that's a process known as power cycling. This can be damaging to the pump because it causes wear and tear on the motor. In addition, since the motor inside the pump requires a surge of power on the initial startup, it can waste electricity. When pumps start power cycling, it's time to have them serviced or replaced.
Be Attentive to Cavitation Signs
Production lines are inherently noisy, but if you listen to the pump and it's making excessive noises paired with significant vibration, that's a sign of cavitation. If you're not familiar, cavitation is the development of bubbles or air pockets in fluid, often caused by impellers and other moving components inside the motor. You'll want to address this early, because it can ultimately affect the accuracy of your gauges and other instruments in addition to weakening seals and risking other potential failures. You can avoid some of this risk with routine maintenance and inspections.
Always Monitor The Conditions In The System
Because there's always some degree of hydraulic pressure and consistent fluid flow behind your centrifugal pumps, it's important that you're monitoring the entire system during production cycles. If you operate your pumps on a system that isn't being monitored, you have no way to know when there's a problem inside either the pump or the system. This is an important consideration, because even subtle variations in the final product production can result in components that don't fit or won't work as intended. Make sure you always have gauges on the system to monitor the flow rates, pressure in the system and power in the pump. That way, you'll be able to identify problems as they begin simply by seeing the fluctuations in the readings.
Invest In Quality Parts For Your Pump Repairs
It's tempting to invest in nothing but aftermarket parts for your pump repairs. After all, most aftermarket parts are much more affordable than the OEM equivalents. Unfortunately, they don't always meet the same standards, so make sure that you know what you're getting when you buy repair parts. Whether you opt for OEM or aftermarket parts, focus on the quality of the components to ensure that you're getting something that will be worth the investment.
As you can see, there are many things you can do as a business owner to help reduce your inefficiencies and financial waste in your industrial operations. With these tips, you can keep your centrifugal pumps working at their best without risking spending more than you can realistically afford.