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Founded in 1971 in Detroit, MI, as a chemicals manufacturer for various industrial and food applications, Diversified Chemical Technologies Inc. (DCT) has grown to six integrated subsidiaries that operate in and around Detroit. Its customers include some of the world’s most recognizable and successful brands in the automotive, food and beverage, packaging, electrical, and consumer-products industries.
To meet the daily needs of this global client base, DCT and its subsidiaries manufacture a range of chemicals, adhesives, polymers, epoxies, lighting solutions, and recycled rubber products at its nine manufacturing facilities. To keep its operations running and to meet the needs of its customers, DCT relies on thousands of pieces of equipment at its various facilities.
Industrial pumps are crucial to DCT’s manufacturing subsidiaries; however, a new hire noticed that certain pumps were not always suited for their job. Time and cost effectiveness, maintenance needs, operational efficiencies, energy consciousness, and return on investment could all be improved.
Improving Efficiency with PumpsWhen he began working at DCT in 2005 as corporate director of Maintenance, Santos Flores found many small inefficiencies in its operations, such as incongruencies in areas like pump sizing and flow rates. These inefficiencies would have almost imperceptible effects on a specific operation at any one time, but would add up to lost efficiency and revenue.
“I saw a lot of processes that I knew could be improved, especially with a lot of our fluid processing, pumping and our metering,” said Flores.
In his previous role as a metal-fabrication business owner, Flores had become familiar with the work of American Controls Inc., a leading Farmington Hills, MI-based distributorship for industrial pumps, meters and accessories, as well as a trendsetter in the design and construction of customized liquid-control systems. Through the relationship he had built up with ACI Field Specialist Tom Matheson, Flores immediately began creating a plan to makeover DCT’s production processes with an eye toward improved operational efficiencies and cost savings in the areas of maintenance and utility expenses.
Product Containment, Few Moving PartsFlores estimates that DCT has as many as 1,000 pumps in operation at any one time. With the help of ACI, the journey to replace those pumps with more-efficient options began with one step - choosing air-operated double-diaphragm (AODD) pumps from Wilden®, Grand Terrace, CA. Wilden is part of the New York-based Dover Corp.’s Pump Solutions Group (PSGTM), which was formed in 2008 and is a conglomeration of the world’s leading industrial-pump manufacturers.
Specifically, DCT chose Wilden’s AdvancedTM lines of metal and plastic AODD pumps that featured the patented Pro-FloTM air-distribution system (ADS) to meet its diverse production needs.
“The old pumps we were using were very maintenance-intensive to take apart, put back together and get back online,” said Flores. “We had a competitor’s pump that we almost had daily failures on. Tom’s team came in and showed us how the Wildens worked and how they operated. They came in and did maintenance classes with our people, showed them how [the pumps] operated, how to do preventive maintenance, how to do repairs. We’ve reduced downtime 50% with the Wilden pumps.”
According to ACI’s Matheson, DCT began installing Wilden AODD pumps four years ago and has about 30 currently in use at various locations. Most of the pumps are Wilden Pro-Flo Series (bolted) pumps from the P200 (1-inch) to P1500 (3-inch) sizes with flow rates of 56-260 gpm. Pro-Flo Series pumps ensure total product containment since they are bolted together and won’t leak. This design makes them ideal for pumping raw materials from holding tanks into batch tanks, and pumping finished products into totes, drums, 5-gal pails, and, in some cases, tanker trucks - tasks that are performed on a continual basis at DCT’s facilities. The Pro-Flo Series’ metal or plastic construction also gives them the versatility to handle products with a range of characteristics, while a variety of elastomer options, including TeflonTM PTFE, allow them to conquer abrasion, temperature and chemical compatibility concerns. The metal pumps are offered in die-cast aluminum, stainless steel and alloy C, while the plastic pumps are available in polypropylene, PVDF, and Teflon PFA.
DCT also benefits from the pumps’ Pro-Flo ADS operation, which incorporates only three moving parts: an unbalanced air-valve spool, a pilot spool and the main shaft/diaphragm assembly. This design gives the pumps an enviable operating cycle where pressure in the pump is directed in a way that allows the liquid to be pumped in the most efficient manner possible.
“Pro-Flo ADS is a big deal,” said Flores. “It cuts the time down in half when you have to do a rebuild because there’s only one moving part. You put it back together again, put it back online, and there are no issues or leaks. With the competitors’ pumps, everything had to be absolutely perfect. You’re losing time for repairs and it takes time to put the pump back in place; we wanted to eliminate that. As far as the time we save in labor and loss of product, the Wildens completely make up the cost.”
In fact, Flores estimates that his maintenance staff, which includes full-time employees at each facility working three eight-hour shifts, as well as a staff at a main maintenance crib where fabricating duties and equipment rebuilds are done, is now spending only 25% of its time on maintenance in the areas where the Wilden pumps are used, compared to the 75% that was spent on maintenance with the competitors’ pumps.
“Now it’s just normal preventive maintenance that we do - we have not had a failure on a Wilden pump to date,” said Flores. “For preventive maintenance, we check fittings, check for leaks on the pump, and check the daily operation on it. Some PMs come up annually, weekly, depending on which process it is. Those Wildens just need the preventive maintenance recommended by the manufacturer. With the Wildens, we haven’t had any failures after having almost daily failures on some pumps in the past.”
Pumps Handle Viscous, Delicate MaterialsThis pump reliability and dependability is paramount to DCT’s assorted operations. Flores points to two examples that help quantify the versatility that the Wilden pumps offer.
The first involves working with a rubinate at DCT’s Recycled Polymeric Materials facility. Rubinates, which are combined with polyols to make recycled-rubber seals for use in the automotive-products industry, immediately solidify upon contact with air. This means that they have to be handled by pumps that will not develop leaks.
“If there’s a little leak whatsoever and the rubinate solidifies, that pump seizes up and creates a lot of problems - plus it’s just a big mess,” said Flores. “Now, with the Wildens, we haven’t had any leaks or problems like that, and our downtime is cut tremendously.”
Secondly, Flores points out a finished product that is manufactured at DCT’s Coat-It facility in Ferndale, MI. Polymeric material 60B4 is used in a range of industries, including automotive, furniture, aerospace and electronics. The highly viscous and delicate material provides handling challenges: it can shear if it is run through the wrong pump or at the wrong speeds.
“With the Wildens, it just doesn’t do that; it’s almost like a free-flowing movement through the pump, so it isn’t creating the friction or the heat that previous pumps have, which would scrap the entire batch,” Flores said. “Now we can make the finished product, and when it’s time for the last pumping step to put the product in a container, we’re confident that the pump won’t add heat or shearing. That saves us a ton of money.”
Pairing an Air Compressor with PumpsIn addition to the benefits of Wilden AODD pumps, DCT is also using the pumping technology offered by another member of the Pump Solutions Group - Griswold Pump Co., Grand Terrace, CA. Griswold® has been manufacturing for nearly 70 years and is best known for its 811 ANSI Series of centrifugal pumps for industrial applications. The 811 Series has a full range of pump sizes and options that can be tailored to various fluid-processing applications.
Flores found that a Griswold 811 pump solved an ongoing problem that occurred within the air-compressor system at DCT’s Adhesives Systems facility. The environment at Adhesives Systems, where adhesives for consumer and industrial packaging are produced, is harsh, especially in the area where hot-melt adhesive is made. Therefore, keeping the facility’s air-compressor system properly cooled with a steadily pumped stream of water is a demanding job, which was made less of a challenge when Flores replaced the centrifugal pump with a Griswold 811.
“There were a lot of problems in that area in the past,” Flores said. “It’s a harsh environment; there are a lot of powders in the air, as well as little fines and silts that get into the water system. When the compressor on the competitors’ pump would die off, the backup compressor didn’t keep us at 100% capacity. We would sometimes bring in a rental, which was expensive and could cause us to miss shipments.
“Ever since we put in the Griswold, we have had no problems. That air compressor runs all of the pumps and all of the actuated valves; it is used in the hot-melt process with three different reactors, and it’s used for the pelletizer. If that compressor is not running correctly, we are in deep trouble. For example, renting a compressor would cost $2,000 a month, which I no longer have to do. In addition, we’re saving money from not having to shut the process down, or missing shipments if I can’t make my product.”
The Griswold 811 ANSI Series pump has performed so well that Flores anticipates ordering three more in the future.
ConclusionManaging an expansive and diverse operation such as DCT is a big task, involving both a lot of moving parts and budgetary considerations. Operational inefficiencies cannot be tolerated, no matter how small they may seem. Santos Flores installed a plan at Diversified Chemical Technologies to streamline operations at all of the company’s facilities and to eliminate waste of any kind - whether time, product, environmental or monetary.
In using the pumping technologies from Wilden and Griswold, Flores has found willing partners in the effort to make DCT as lean and efficient as possible, while also continuing to meet the high expectations of its client base. To that end, Flores plans to make sure every operation has access to efficient equipment.
“We really have thousands of pumps here, tons of applications, and we want to make sure we go through them correctly, methodically, so we can fix them once then move on to the next project,” he said. “That’s why I brought Tom and ACI in here, to make sure we size the pumps correctly and have the right one for the product. The ones that we’re losing the most money on are top priority; then we’ll go down the list. The Wilden and Griswold pumps have made my job a lot easier.”
Tom Zuckett is a regional manager for Pump Solutions Group, Redlands, CA. He can be reached by phone at (330) 923-2848 or via e-mail at Tom.Zuckett@pumpsg.com.
PSG is comprised of six leading pump companies: Wilden®, Blackmer®, GriswoldTM, NeptuneTM, Almatec® and Mouvex®. For more information, visit www.pumpsg.com.