Efficient filtration: Cooler way to cure
25 January 2013
One of Europe's largest manufacturers of plastic piping systems has solved a maintenance problem and moved towards energy and production savings through the installation of high efficiency water filtration technology. S
Steve Cupples, managing director of Industrial Purification Systems, explains
The company concerned uses the manufacturing method called thermosetting plastics for the manufacture of products for residential, commercial and infrastructure sectors. The whole process is an exacting one with the ability to cool the thermosets playing a vital part in total plant capacity. This is a high temperature moulding process whereby product is manufactured at temperatures above 200Â°C. The cure or cooling time required to achieve physical stability therefore dictates production capacity.
By applying chilled water through fine cooling tracks found in the moulding head the thermosets can be hardened quickly. If this cooling system blocks or becomes fouled for any reason the thermosets take longer to harden which effectively slows down production. In reality this could translate into a slow down of just 10s. However if you multiply this slow down across an entire production line, this would seriously affect production capacity and ultimately the bottom line.
In this particular instance, the maintenance team had been trying to control a number of issues they were experiencing with its closed loop cooling system which was not only displaying discolouration through red deposits but had become a breeding ground for bacteria.
They were mainly concerned about the dreadful water quality in the cooling system which was giving out an extremely unpleasant odour. A continuous programme of chemical treatment to kill the bacteria had been put in place but this was causing a build up of dead bacteria, the resultant slime consequently blocking the system.
Production then had to be stopped for cleaning purposes. As this was a repeating cycle of events it was causing a lot of problems. The issue here was not necessarily to do with wastage of product but more to do with a waste of time.
A SpinClean filtration unit was already in place but was not capable of handling a problem such as this.We therefore recommended that the company installed our new high efficiency media filtration technology called the Crossflow AMF which was fitted as a side stream filter during the summer months.
The maintenance team was expecting quite a large piece of technology to be installed for the type of problem it was experiencing which necessitated having to cope with a cooling system operating across 30 machines in the moulding shop. The team was surprised at how compact the filter actually is and how easy it was to install.
The effects of the filter were seen quite quickly with clean water established within 3 to 4 weeks. Of course this meant that there were savings to be made against the reduction of chemical use but the real savings were on the cycle times. The build up of slime had been affecting the cooling capacity thereby extending curing times; by cleaning up the water, the flow rates increased, stoppages for cleaning time were reduced and production speed on the moulding machines could be maintained at original levels.
The maintenance team had also been on the receiving end of numerous complaints about having to stop the machines and clean them out. Since the installation of the CrossFlow AMF the complaints have stopped.
While those working in the moulding plant will be enjoying a much better working environment having eradicated the odour emanating from the water, it is too early to establish other benefits. However, from experience we expect that the company will see a big improvement in energy savings and with maintenance downtime now being almost non-existent we would expect the company to s