Pump Reliability 17-01

Reliability is one of those buzzwords that academics love to use. We set up reliability programs and sometimes go so far as to hire reliability engineers. Vibration analysis, dynamic balancing and laser aligning equipment is purchased and company computers are re-programmed to record your progress. Maybe you're purchasing seals and bearings to some standard and think that the standard is giving you a built in protection?

Have you joined the bandwagon? Are you purchasing to a company or engineering standard of some type and made the capital investment in the reading and recording data? Well, How are you doing?

Did you say, "Good, we're making real progress?"

You're full of baloney!

Let's talk about pump reliability. Just what is it? Any discussion about pump reliability has to contain three elements:

OK let's take a look at those three requirements:

The two items that have the highest probably of failing your pump are the mechanical seal and shaft bearings.

Seals and bearings account for 90% of your premature pump failures. So how long should seals and bearings last?

Please do not point out that you are using two hard faces and cannot use this indicator of seal life. In most cases you should not be using two hard faces any way. The only justification for using two hard faces is that your product attacks carbon or you are afraid of a color contamination problem and your company does not allow anything black in the system. Pumping abrasives or slurry is not a good reason. Abrasives and slurries cannot penetrate between lapped seal faces unless they open. Go find out why the faces are opening!

Do we know why seals and bearing fail prematurely? Of course we do!

We can come up with a lot of reasons why seal materials are damaged or lapped faces open and that is what education is all about. It's the same with bearing contamination and overheating. Educate your people and your pump reliability will increase dramatically.

Are you addressing these two problems of premature seal and bearing failure? Of course you're not. I'll bet you're negotiating with your present seal and bearing suppliers to purchase these same failing seals at a lower price.

Once you get to the point of having 90% of your seals wear out instead of failing prematurely and you start to approach the L10 life of your bearings, we can then discuss how to prevent the unexpected failure.

We have to start somewhere, so let's learn how to maximize the life of seals and bearings first.


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