Making profitable chemicals

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1 Vol. 17 No. 2 T H E S E A L I N G T E C H N O L O G Y M A G A Z I N E Plastic solves Gaspac fretting failures Better MTBR in Belgium Making profitable chemicals A sound partnership based on the LifeCycle Advantage program improves maintenance savings at the largest chemical plant in the Mexican CPI

2 Cover Story Making profitable chemicals A sound partnership based on the LifeCycle Advantage program improves maintenance savings at the largest chemical plant in the Mexican CPI Celanese Cangrejara operates at three sites in central southeastern Mexico, with a distribution center in San Cristóbal and corporate offices in Mexico, D.F. The production facility at Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, is near transportation routes. It has a modern marine terminal with 18 tanks that hold as much as 31,500 tons of products and a throughput of 20,000 tons per month. This 25-hectare complex has nine plants divided in three production units and distributed in six divisions: oxo, acetyl, solvents, acrylates, amines and specialties. This large plant meets and exceeds the Mexican environmental, security, ecology and hygiene regulations. The operations earned several awards of distinction from, among others, Secretaria del Medio Ambiente, Recursos Naturales y Pesca, Secretariat of the Environment, Natural Resources and Fisheries (SEMARNAP) and Procuraduría Federal de Protección al Ambiente, Federal Ministry for Environmental Protection (PROFEPA). Every year since 1982 the 355 employees at the ISO 9002-certified Celanese Cangrejera plant have produced half a million tons of basic chemicals that serve as feedstock for colorants, paints, adhesives, coatings, plastics and other staples of modern society. This plant is one of the more important petrochemical complexes in Latin America. The plant relies on more than 1,000 pumps from several manufacturers. For years, recurring problems related to piping plans, worn seal faces and lubrication kept the maintenance team busy. Eight technicians and a $40,000 seal inventory were needed to keep up with the 20 mechanical seals that needed to be repaired each month. A smart move For many years, Celanese Cangrejara had worked with Flowserve as a trusted seal provider. In 1997, however, Celanese strengthened its relationship with the Flowserve office in Mexico City by developing several inventory management initiatives. During the following eight years, the program improved Flowserve on time delivery in keeping the facility supplied with mechanical seals. As successful it was, it was obvious that inventory management alone was insufficient as a long-term strategy. We couldn t find a way to improve our maintenance process and save more money, says Luis Marquez, the Celanese purchasing section leader. We had seals in our warehouse that were ready 2 Face to Face

3 Cover Story to be installed, but we wanted to find value-added services that let us define an integrated process of saving in the maintenance function. The equipment at the Celanese plant operates 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. Managing assets isn t a piece of cake, Marquez adds. There s the problem of administrating not only seals, but also all of the rotating equipment that is coming from third-party providers. What we needed was to look at the big picture and make plans to improve equipment performance. Then, during 2004, in an effort to achieve its strategic objectives, Celanese partnered with Flowserve in an alliance based on the Flowserve LifeCycle Advantage program, a collaborative effort that reduces total cost of ownership and improves operating profitability. Celanese realized that tapping into and implementing best practices in equipment management can yield reliability and performance gains. The secret was to work with a partner who understood the plant s goals and was willing to be held accountable for helping to reach those gains. LifeCycle Advantage is a scalable, proprietary equipment management process that was customized for Celanese to meet the plant s unique goals for rotating equipment, mechanical seals and automation requirements. More than a supply of products, LifeCycle Advantage is a comprehensive program that combines Flowserve experience and support to maximize reliability and optimize systems and equipment performance. Key features include minimizing downtime, streamlining inventory, reducing costs and extending equipment life. LifeCycle Advantage is based on a rigorous and structured approach to implementing, improving and realizing equipment management results. The program is centered on Flowstar.net technology, a powerful interactive software tool that manages the relevant data, analyzes problem areas it identifies and produces timely reports that support informed equipment decisions. LifeCycle Advantage delivers these results because Flowstar.net captures the plant-specific knowledge that powers its analysis engine. Information from any source, including the Celanese One SAP system, is integrated into a single database. Such centralization Face to Face

4 Cover Story raises the visibility of problem areas before they become unmanageable. Also, the Flowstar.net system contains metrics concerning industry best practices learned from root cause analysis and benchmarking. The metric-based LifeCycle Advantage program rests on five components equipment performance, inventory optimization, strategic procurement, technical support and training. It leverages Flowserve expertise in equipment management with Celanese process knowledge. At the first meeting with the Flowserve Latin America LifeCycle Advantage team, the focus was on understanding Celanese expectations for the future. The team then explained the program philosophy and stressed the common goals reducing pump and equipment failure and improving equipment reliability. The most important goal that came out of these early team conferences was a desire to reduce the plant s total cost of mechanical seal ownership by 10% during The program begins When the program first moved to the plant floor, the focus was on completing a survey of the process equipment the LifeCycle Advantage program covers pumps, compressors, agitators and hydraulic units and documenting its maintenance history. This data helped to identify critical and under-performing equipment. The Flowserve team, headed by Juan Vazquez Cides, uploaded this information into the Flowstar.net system. The output it generated helped to support informed decisions for extending equipment life and making quick, effective responses to production problems that might arise. The second program step involved identifying the root causes of failures observed and proposing corrective action. Finally, the implementation teams established the key performance indicators that measured program success. These were reported and reviewed during routine meetings to help ensure program goals were met. The Flowserve engineering and field service team then cross-checked the information to confirm it was sufficient to improve the environment for mechanical seals in the Celanese plant. We want to make sure our partner has what they were asking for, explains Agustin Ascencio, the LifeCycle Advantage manager for the project. Our LifeCycle Advantage team had to perform very well to reach Celanese expectations. We had monthly and quarterly meetings to find ways to improve continuously, month after month. The dust settles Initial implementation of this type of program is always the most difficult step. The first calendar quarter was the hardest and most challenging one, Marquez says, but we were sure the talented people on the team were focused on improving the bad actor list and achieving seal standardization. We had to get those goals completed. The entire effort exceeded the goals with respect to identifying bad actors, seal standardization and improvements in equipment MTBF. The report presented at the team s year-end meeting was unambiguously positive. The key performance indicators revealed that: On-time delivery reached 98%. Seal standardization had been completed. Seal lubrication systems were upgraded. MTBF improved by more than 40%. TCO had been reduced by 27%. The Celanese and Flowserve teams had good reason to congratulate each other over the joint successes they had achieved during the first year of the LifeCycle Advantage program. The toughest thing about success is that you ve got to keep on being a success, adds Ascencio. We know the coming year will bring more challenge, but we all know that we have the team and we can face it. Face to Face

5 Air Products A case for plastic Company-wide mobilization made a just-in-time solution for Gaspac fretting failures The Air Products Manufacturing L.P. facility in LaPorte, Texas, produces clean, dry carbon monoxide (CO) from natural gas and compresses it for pipeline transportation to customers. One product compressor is a four-stage 2,500-hp integral-gear centrifugal unit, manufactured by Cameron Compression Systems. Suction pressure is 48 psig and the fourth stage discharge pressure is 650 psig. The compressor s bullgear runs at 3,600 rpm, the low-speed pinion (stages 1 and 2) at 33,511 rpm and the high-speed pinion (stages 3 and 4) at 45,111 rpm. Stage discharge temperatures range from 205 F to 240 F. Consultation with Cameron led to outfitting the unit with Flowserve Gaspac dry gas non-contacting seals, a choice validated by shop tests that took place before the compressor was commissioned in June, But, in December, 2003, after only 309 hours of operation, the compressor suffered a catastrophic failure originating in the stage 3 seal. Extensive damage obliterated the forensic evidence needed to determine the root cause of this failure. The compressor was returned to the Cameron factory for a complete rebuild that included four replacement seals. To provide faster shutdown in response to seal failure, the seal port vent pressure measurements, which had been alarm-only, now initiated an instant shutdown. The compressor was recommissioned in February, In July, 2004, after 262 hours of operation, the stage 3 seal failed again. This time, the protective instrumentation prevented secondary damage and preserved the condition of the failed seal for examination of the failure mechanism. After installing new Gaspac S seals, Air Products brought the unit back online, knowing that the seals wouldn t allow for extended runtime and that a permanent solution was needed. The stage 3 and stage 4 seals exhibited fretting wear at points of contact between the stationary seal face and the seal face retainer. This wear progressed to the point that the stationary seal face was locked into a fixed axial position. Both stage 3 seal failures occurred during compressor startup, when the pinion rotor changes position in response to axial thrust. This is precisely when the stationary seal faces must be free to move. Explanatory theories ranged from a contaminated CO seal gas stream to an excessive number of start/stop cycles. We were confident that the CO seal gas was clean, as it is taken off the compressor discharge downstream of the aftercooler and it passes through a five-micron filter, says Joe Campanelli, senior engineering associate machinery of Face to Face

6 Air Products Air Products. The CO is produced by cryogenic distillation, so it has only trace contaminants. The Flowserve Gaspac S dry, non-contacting seal uses a metal retainer ring with four tangs that engage drive lugs of the stationary seal. Failure analysis at the Flowserve factory in Dortmund, Germany, pointed to vibratory interaction between seal and compressor as the root cause. This excitation led to seal retainer wear, seal face lockup and, ultimately, seal failure. Attempts to eliminate retainer-tang fretting with harder stainless steel tangs were unsuccessful. Instead of harder tangs, the Flowserve engineers used a soft, compliant material to help dampen the vibration excitation. Flowserve consulted with Greene, Tweed & Co., one of its enterprise partners, to identify a new material with the appropriate properties. After screening many possible materials, Greene, Tweed s final selection was Avalon 69, a thermoplastic carbon-filled PTFE material. Flowserve used a test rig to expose the stationary face to torsional vibration to simulate the rotor s behavior, but at greatly higher levels. This promoted the same retainer tang nibbling damage, but much sooner. Because of the hazardous nature of carbon monoxide, these tests were performed using air. Wear comparisons after 180 hours of testing showed the Avalon 69 drive tangs wore a maximum of 19 microns compared to 122 microns for the 410 stainless steel drive tangs, a wear reduction of approximately 85%. The harder stainless steel provided less wear resistance, a fact attributed to the damping properties of Avalon 69. Air Products replaced several sets of stage 3 and 4 seals proactively to prevent another seal failure while waiting for sets of modified seals with the new Avalon 69 retaining rings. Air Products installed the reworked seals in October, 2004, and began a functional testing program. When the modified seals operated flawlessly through two start/stop cycles and 722 operating hours, twice the operating life of the original seals, Air Products pulled them out for inspection. The redesign proved successful. There was no evidence of notching on the retaining ring tangs. To expedite returning the compressor to service, Air Products installed a second set of modified seals. The compressor came back online in May 2005 and operated with the same seals until a planned outage to inspect them in October, This operating cycle represented a total of 11,247 operating hours and 14 start/stop cycles. Flowserve really stepped up to the plate with the seal analysis, material development and comprehensive seal rig testing, says Campanelli. This was really an excellent example of Flowserve engineers working well with the compressor OEM and the customer to solve a very complex reliability problem. Air Products is very pleased with the final result and this was really an excellent team effort. Face to Face

7 Belgium Reaching new heights Belgian refinery successfully pursues aggressive MTBR improvements The Belgian Refining Company (BRC) has big aspirations when it comes to the efficiency of its medium-sized refinery in Antwerp, Belgium. The plant produces 5.5 million tons annually, almost 11,000 BBL/day, of a range of products including propane, butane, naptha, gasoil, gasoline, fuel oil and sulfur. The facility started in 1992 with a CMMS system, surveyed its pump assets and made a bad actor list. Many pump seals were upgraded between 1992 and During that time, Flowserve eliminated numerous bad actors, especially for high-temperature applications, by replacing pusher seals with high-temperature bellows seals. The mean time between repairs (MTBR), however, remained lower than expectations. Like many facilities, the mission of the BRC maintenance department is to maintain the refinery in a safe, ecological, economical and planned manner in order to contribute to the welfare of the employees and to increase the availability and reliability of the plant. To decrease maintenance costs of the plant s 386 centrifugal pumps, BRC set an MTBR goal of 50 months. To achieve this in a cost-effective way, a fixedfee LifeCycle Advantage agreement was started on January 1, LifeCycle Advantage from Flowserve is a collaborative program designed to reduce total cost of ownership and improve operating profitability through metrics-based programs that optimize management and operation of rotating equipment. At the beginning of the contract, the MTBR was 33 months. After only one year, the MTBR improved to 41 months. And it s still improving. This type of agreement creates a climate of continuous improvement and the end result is improved MBTR, explains Gerrit Vanhoye, BRC maintenance manager. And the agreed costs are known from the start of the contract. That contributes to better maintenance cost planning. BRC says the improved MTBR is mainly due to continuous follow-up by the team of Flowserve reliability, application and sales engineers with the BRC predictive maintenance specialist. There is also close collaboration between the companies and investments in some seal systems. The combination of the LifeCycle Advantage agreement and the short decision lines of BRC contributed significantly in the success of the relationship, says Jan Elen, Flowserve regional alliance coordinator. Our collaboration has been instrumental in the successful maintenance of the plant s seals and standardization. Vanhoye estimates that 70% of pump repair costs at BRC are related to something other than seals. That means a reduction in seal leakages helps reduce costs for pump repair technicians, plant operators, crane operators, electricians and environmental protection. These extra multidisciplinary cost reductions are the main savings for BRC, Vanhoye says. And steps toward accomplishing their big goals. Face to Face 7

8 FSFV17N2/DEC06

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