From its Tilburg, the Netherlands, facility, Chromalloy services and repairs gas-turbine engine components used on airlines and other applications.
"This facility is a repair shop for parts that are used on airplane engines and in other applications," explains John Bollebakker, manager of maintenance and facilities. "If an engine needs an overhaul, certain parts will be sent here, where they will be inspected and repaired with all necessary paperwork completed, and then we will deliver the part back to the OEM in the shortest time possible."
Sometimes the 120,000-square-foot plant, in operation since 1975, needs an overhaul as well to ensure its processes are as efficient and cost-saving as possible.
The need to improve
A key stage in the engine-repair process is the continuous transfer of cooling fluids that help keep the repair and refinishing machinery operating safely. Since 1998, Chromalloy has used air-operated double-diaphragm (AODD) pumps to facilitate the process.
In one area, a press pipe introduces the cooling fluid into the process, and then it runs back to the tank, where the AODD pump pulls it out and sends it to the next installation. In another area, the main pumps move fluid to the machines, and the AODD pump moves it to the tank, back to the filter for it to be cooled and then back to the machine again.
Since their installation 16 years ago, the only maintenance needed for the AODD pumps is seal replacement about once a year. Still, evolving operational demands with air usage, efficiency, noise levels and overall operating costs had forced Bollebakker to think about how to improve pump performance.
"I realized I would have to get the older machines more efficient, while we also constantly look into safety issues. We want a healthy work environment," Bollebakker says. "Therefore, we were looking at where we could improve environmental issues or create cost savings by doing whatever it takes to make our ROI the right percentage. From all aspects, we try to do the best thing we can for the company. It should fit into the complete organization, but also fit into the budget."
To help identify new pumping technologies, Bollebakker worked with Holland Air Pumps based in Oirschot, the Netherlands, and its commercial director Gerrit Klaassen.
Too good to be true
Just before Bollebakker’s search began, a new air distribution system (ADS) had been released with an air control spool. The spool eliminates costly air overfilling at the completion of the pump stroke and can bring 60-percent savings in air consumption with a cost 50 percent less than traditional mechanical or electronically actuated ADS technology.
"When we take our test unit to a customer and show them what it really is and what it does and how it can work for them, and they really see it happening and listen to the pump, they see that they suddenly have 30 percent to 40 percent more capacity," Klaassen says.
Chromalloy was one such customer in December 2013. Bollebakker says seeing a test interested the plant, and seeing the overall monetary savings convinced him to choose the new technology. "Once I convinced my general manager, it was real quick to get the investment approved," Bollebakker recalls.
Removing old ADSs from the eight existing pumps and inserting the new system was so simple that the plant’s 16-hour-a-day operating schedule ran like normal.
"From a production point of view, I can’t allow myself to go without production for four or six or eight hours because we have to run for 16 hours," Bollebakker says. In reality, there were only one or two hours that each pump was out of production. "It was an easy job."
Bollebakker quickly saw cost savings. The operating costs were reduced by 4 cents per cubic meter per hour (m3/hr), which adds up to an annual savings of $12,020. The company will also be able to pay for the investment in 12 months.
Chromalloy is always looking for ways for its systems to be more efficient, and the new AODD pumps have allowed them to grow in this direction.
"From the moment we rebuilt the air section on the [pumps,] there was an immediate reduction in air supply, but the flow remained the same," says Bollebakker. "When the pump comes in and it’s working like the way we want it to work, the case is closed."
Philippe Leguay is the regional manager—Northern Europe, Wilden and PSG. He can be reached at [email protected]. Wilden is a brand of AODD pumps from PSG, a Dover company. For more information on Wilden or PSG, visit wildenpump.com or psgdover.com.