When technicians at Seal Innovations’ Acacia Ridge facility in Brisbane stripped down a hot water pump they had brought back from a major Queensland sugar mill, the pump was not in a good shape. The impeller, the impeller case and the wear ring were severely worn, the shaft had deeply corroded, and the shaft sleeves were covered with rust. For the team, it was just another day at the office. 

“Refurbishing rotating equipment and returning them to their original condition is one of the many services we provide to our customers,” says Lance Brett, National Sales Manager at Seal Innovations. 

Part of Industrial Solutions Australia’s group of businesses, Seal Innovations has been active across a broad industrial market in Australia since the early
1940s. While best known as a one-stop-shop for seals, gaskets and gland packings, Seal Innovations’ services division also supports all industries with repair and refurbishment of pumps and mechanical seals. 

In this project, the team first determined the scope of work based on their initial assessment. Refurbishing the sugar mill’s pump involved processes such as grit blasting the pump internally and externally, supplying and machining new impeller wear rings, supplying and machining a new shaft and fitting new split rings. 

By the end of the process, the pump was pressure tested and given a fresh coat of paint. Lance says the team was able to bring the pump back to its full efficacy rate, at a fraction of the cost of buying a new pump.

Six years into service, the pump is still operating at full flow capacity. Lance says the customer was very pleased with the cost savings. 

“Sugar mills often do not have huge budgets for maintenance. Which explains why the pump was neglected for so long. It would have cost the mill at least $200,000 to purchase a new pump. We were able to repair and recommission the unit at a fraction of that cost.”

Cautioning against putting off pump repairs for a long time, Lance says the sealing elements, wear rings and the impellers are the parts that usually wear quicker than the others. 

“When you get wear on your impeller and your wear rings start to fail, you are losing efficiency. This means you are not getting the flow rates that you should. Also, if you have leaking sealings, you are losing product. Product spills are not only costly, but also dangerous. There can be slip hazards. In many food and beverage industries, it can also lead to environmental issues,” says Lance.

Lance says upgrading traditional gland packings to modern mechanical seals is something any old food and beverage plant should consider.

“If you have the budget, then we always recommend upgrading to mechanical seals where possible. Modern day mechanical seals are more energy
efficient for the pump. They also don’t have many of the problems that gland packings have. Gland packings have to have leaks in order to survive, whereas mechanical seals have no physical leakage, so they give you better environmental control. There’s also less emissions in the atmosphere when you use mechanical seals.”

Lance says it’s not uncommon for the Seal Innovations team to refurbish a pump multiple times. 

“As long as the cost of repair does not exceed buying a new pump and as long as you have not used the pump to the point of destruction, we can bring it back to its original specifications and make it work as new. At Seal Innovations, we have the skills and tools to do it everything in-house, which helps save our customers’ valuable time,” he says.