Most processing pumps installed in plants are aging, and the arithmetic gets this age to be somewhere between 35 and 50 years. It clearly indicates that the infrastructure of the industry is at risk if plant owners keep using them. These pumps have been kept in practice for more than what original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) originally thought. To keep them running and maintain the same output, one solution exists — These pumps need to be revamped and given their lives back.
The second issue is that large pumps are operational in abrasive or corrosive environments, which tends to reduce the operational life of vital components such as impellers. Although technology has developed and led engineers to invent newer material, the problem is still persistent.
The third challenge is that most pump components were installed before the digital era. This makes it more difficult to bring the pumps back to life by replacing the worn-out parts because it is highly improbable that the OEM will have these parts in exact dimensions.
With such multiple challenges, OEMs are in a situation to where the only option left is to study the existing design and refabricate.
What is the new old secret?
To get rid of this torturous situation, a new component can be created by studying the existing designs with detailed scans and reproducing them from scratch. Reverse engineering, the long prevailing method of reinventing or reproducing parts, has come to rescue these OEMs to bring life back to worn-out parts.
Drawing and modeling from scratch for less intricate parts is an easier job. However, doing so every time is costly and time-consuming. Also, for complex geometry like that of a pump, it can result into a wrecking situation if even slight design variations occur. This is because every design must be validated before it goes out for fabrication. The advent of sophisticated coordinate measuring machines (CMMs), 3D scanning and 3D computer-aided design (CAD) modeling have made it far easier to regenerate complex components and bring the entire unit back to its young life.
Extending the pump life for future needs
Reverse engineering has reduced the need to preserve drawings of components. However, one important aspect to consider is that once the component is produced, its 3D CAD-modeled part can be stored and preserved for later use for components that have multiple applications. It eliminates the need to remodel and sketch the part from scratch and it avoids expensive laser scan.
Getting a final end product like an impeller may take time when going through the reverse engineering approach. However, it ensures accuracy for final fabrication. Accurate scans and 3D CAD modeling have improved design communication between designer and fabricator, which quickens the fabrication process. It essentially gives fabricators and plant owners the opportunity to minimize equipment downtime and maintenance, which leads to efficient outputs.
Looking at the cumulative advantages of this new old secret, popularly known as reverse engineering with 3D CAD modeling offers, the only question is how much value can it add to a business?
To find answers, plant owners can only experience it by blowing new life to the worn-out equipment with this new old secret.
Usha B. Trivedi is a technical writer at Hi-Tech Engineering Services. She is a qualified mechanical engineer and contributes in-depth articles for industrial equipment, processing plants and fabrication sector. Trivedi’s contributions are primarily focused on enabling engineering professionals, fabricators and plant owners to accelerate design and improve project efficiencies through BIM, 3D CAD and CAE tools.