Making the Most of Production Downtime

Discover how a chemical company used Flowserve products and expertise to improve mixer seal reliability, slashing downtime and easing maintenance

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Every two years, a major Midwestern specialty chemicals company conducts a routine plant shutdown for maintenance. By planning for downtime every other year, the company expects minimal lost production time. However, a critical top-entry mixer seal designed to prevent dangerous hydrogen sulfide from leaking into the atmosphere failed at a frequency greater than the two-year maintenance interval, costing the company lost production time and money.

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Each of the original seals (provided by a Flowserve competitor) averaged from three to 10 months’ service life. After several replacements — each costing around $20,000 for the hardware alone — the chemical company contacted Flowserve and asked them to design a new seal.

Flowserve faced several challenges on the project. First, the original seal featured a triple-seal design. Flowserve would need to develop a comparable, yet more effective, new solution. In addition, the seal had to withstand up to 450°F temperatures, 500 psig (pounds per square inch gauge) and harsh chemicals for at least 24 months. While the new Flowserve seal performed much longer than its original counterpart, it averaged just more than four months of service life over the span of two years.

After working with the customer and doing additional research, Flowserve engineers suggested the company add Flush Plan 54 to the seal to improve internal conditions and prevent the seal from deteriorating before it reaches the end of its service life. As a result of the persistence and commitment Flowserve engineers had for the project, the chemical company agreed to use Flush Plan 54 — and the seal began to run successfully.

In June 2011, the company reached its planned shutdown with the seal still performing continuously after 750 days of service. At shutdown, the company replaced the seal with another modified Flowserve MW-200 using API Plan 54. Incorporating Flowserve products with the know-how to improve seal reliability, the chemical company was able to achieve their desired 24-month seal life.

For more details on how Flowserve successfully improved seal reliability for its customers, read the entire article in the latest Face-to-Face magazine.