Problem-solving pump project

Online Editor

A straightforward solution to a complex problem: targeted pump refurbishment that achieves 50% cost saving.

Pushing older equipment to meet an increased duty requirement can sometimes result in reliability issues down the line. However, achieving this by sourcing newer replacements can be costly and prohibitively time consuming. To avoid either outcome, one of the largest oil refineries on the island of Java, Indonesia, relied on the specialist knowledge of Sulzer to refurbish and modernise eight diesel pumps. The targeted overhaul programme helped the equipment attain a new operating point, providing a 50% cost saving compared to purchasing new units and five-month overall lead time reduction.

Recently, the refinery underwent a facility-wide upgrade project designed to maximise production capacity and meet the future energy demands of Indonesia.

The right expertise for legacy equipment

As part of this initiative, the equipment promptly identified for modernisation included eight diesel pumps used to transfer fuel from the refinery. The pumps were using six diesel drives and two steam turbines for power. One of the assets dated from 1975, and there was no existing documentation available on site for any of the units.

As a result, operators were unsure how to improve the performance of the pumps to meet the increased fuel demand while safeguarding reliability. Consequently, the engineering contractor approached a number of pump specialists to see how a new duty point could be effectively achieved.

Finding a service provider that can work effectively with older equipment is often a challenge. However, after a rigorous tender process, the contractor selected Sulzer as its engineering capabilities meant that it rose above the competition. Using its knowledge as a global pump OEM, Sulzer is an expert in carrying out retrofits and refurbishments for equipment used in a wide range of applications. This ensures that higher reliability and efficiency standards can be achieved with optimised overhaul projects.

Local expertise with global support

Sulzer’s local service centre in Indonesia provided seamless access to engineering services and the company’s wider global network. For the Indonesian project, this worldwide support proved crucial in collating all the necessary information and expertise to deliver the project effectively and on time.

To overcome the lack of documentation, the Indonesian team contacted Sulzer Pumps UK. The UK team was able to source all the documentation and data for the diesel pumps installed at the refinery. With this information, the team in Indonesia closely collaborated with the Sulzer Pumps engineering team in the USA. Building upon this, the USA team also delivered additional training to the customer’s team.

Throughout the project, the Singapore service centre acted as a central hub for all the different teams to organise their findings and recommendations. After close international collaboration, it was clear that the new duty point could be met without any modifications to the pumps themselves.

Gearing up

Rather than modifying the pumps, new gearboxes would be used to increase the speed of the pumps to reach the new process requirements, which could be achieved well within the performance envelope of the units.

Armed with this information and a plan of action, Sulzer Indonesia carried out detailed inspections of the units. The team then conducted a full refurbishment of the eight pumps, bringing them back to as-new standard. New skid frames were fitted with efficient electric motors connected to gearboxes to deliver the desired speed increase, replacing the old diesel drives and steam turbines. To ensure a complete drivetrain package, Sulzer also installed new couplings and lube oil systems. The rebuilt skids were a plug and play solution, allowing simple reconnection with existing refinery pipework, unlocking a quick installation and minimising time on site.

This approach not only ensured a reduced lead time on the project, but also meant the retrofit could be carried out at 50% of the cost of sourcing new pumps. Furthermore, the retrofit offered a time saving of five months compared to delivering replacement units. No modifications to the pumps themselves also allowed easy plug and play reintegration into the surrounding process equipment back at the refinery once work was complete. What had initially been a complex problem was solved with a straightforward solution that saved both time and costs.

Meeting demand reliably

Updating the drive technology for the pumps ensured that the new duty point was also met with increased efficiency. By using the operational data for the pumps, the complex new performance requirements could be met with speed increasing gearboxes, with future system reliability assured. The advanced engineering capabilities at Sulzer ensured that a complex application challenge was met with a faster solution that offered increased value compared to ordering all new pumps.