Preventing leakage within water and wastewater treatment plants has always been a challenge. Today’s industrial landscape is complex, with multiple issues converging to create logistical maintenance complications.
- Aging infrastructure
- Increasingly stringent environmental legislation
- Rising energy costs
- Skilled labour shortages
- Growing demand, due to a rising population and the need to supply water to remote regions
One of the greatest culprits behind leaks is the smallest element of assets – that of the humble seal. The industry’s stalwarts, namely compression packing and simple component seals, are still routinely used. However, today’s advanced technology provides effective solutions that can – if implemented stepwise – help address many common leakage challenges.
The 1, 2, 3 of dynamic leak management
The biggest issue maintenance teams face is that they’re always playing catch-up. Leaks occur, and the necessary repairs are carried out to address them – a wholly reactive approach.
However, flipping this on its head and implementing a proactive model completely changes the dynamics of water and wastewater asset management. Having the ability to monitor where problems occur and the reasons behind them is a potent tool for leak management.
If it’s possible to:
Monitor the efficiency and process of pumps and sealing systems
We can then…
Understand the stresses that lead to seal failure
Meaning we can…
Accurately determine the MTBF
Then, in combination with embracing advanced seal technology, it becomes possible to successfully overcome many of the challenges that lead to excessive power use, leaks, environmental responsibilities and routine maintenance planning.
Enter Chesterton Connect™, a unique tool that monitors pumps and sealing systems 24/7.
This easy-to-fit, turnkey tool captures and reports the information necessary for maintenance managers to get the much-needed insights to understand better, preserve and manage assets. Chesterton Connect™ can be fitted to a variety of equipment, including agitators, mixers, pumps and more. Once in situ, the continuous data capture returns crucial information on:
- Process pressures
- Process temperatures
- Surface temperatures
- Equipment vibration
Conditions are monitored in real-time, with the user-settable alarms being displayed on an in-unit LED display and data and alarms being sent via Bluetooth to a user-friendly app.
Such information not only allows for more proactive asset management but also provides alerts if conditions move outside predetermined levels. Such knowledge is game-changing, reducing the risk of unidentified leaks and simplifying maintenance scheduling.
Combining knowledge with advanced sealing solutions
Utilising the data gained via Chesterton Connect™ allows maintenance teams to address many other sealing challenges. Advanced mechanical seals, split seals and throat bushing technology can be fitted to new installations and retrofitted to existing ones. Split seal technology, in particular, is ideally suited to the water and wastewater industries.
Combining these with an active throat bushing technology enhances the seal environment. With heat and dirt being the two main culprits of seal reliability, reducing these is also a key element of proactive seal asset management.
The lowdown on split seals
The latest split seal technology brings many benefits:
- No expert skills are required, and they can be installed using the same skillset required for any other non-split seal maintenance and installation
- Can be installed without disturbing the pump, motor or coupling installation
- Eliminates the need for packing (and all the adjustments this requires)
- Can reduce water flush usage
- Minimises sleeve wear and associated maintenance
- Split seals are appropriate in many applications, including water pumps, backwash water pumps, potable water pumps, effluent pumps, sludge pumps and more
Combining Technology is the Solution to Many Sealing Challenges
Addressing sealing issues within the water and wastewater industries isn’t simple. However, with advancing technology bringing affordable, simple solutions to the market, early adopters are already leaping ahead regarding logistical, financial and environmental challenges.
Monitoring tools, such as Chesterton Connect™ allow accurate maintenance scheduling and dramatically reduce the risk of unexpected asset failure and all the associated problems this brings.
Using advanced split seals coupled with the latest active throat bushing technology in tandem provides a long-term and cost-effective solution for many water and wastewater applications.
While this 3-pronged approach can’t quite be described as the silver bullet that addresses every leakage issue, it makes significant headway. Sealing specialists, such as Chesterton, continually push the boundaries of sealing technology. Seals’ quality directly impacts water treatment and the energy used within the industry. Therefore, every plant is responsible for ensuring they take full advantage of the latest sealing technology.
This article was first published in Council Magazine.