Perth conference focuses on centrifugal pumps and turbo-compressors

The ‘Pumps and Compressors Conference 2013’ that took place in Perth, Australia recently attracted pump, compressor and reliability specialists from different parts of the continent. The two-day event focused on pumps and compressors (design, maintenance and reliability), and offered high-quality technical presentations, keynotes and workshops, with its spotlight on centrifugal pumps and turbo-compressors.

The topics were selected from a variety of industrial sectors including energy, gas, LNG, power, mining, water and manufacturing. The main industry in Australia is mining and mineral processing with a special focus on coal and iron ore sectors. There has also been great demand for machineries used in power, water and domestic gas sectors. The continent’s natural gas activities and projects are currently focused on coal seam gas (CSG) projects (mainly in Queensland) and offshore gas projects (mainly in WA – Western Australia and NT – Northern Territory). In addition, LNG projects to convert coal seam gas and natural gas to LNG for export are active. The first FLNG of the world will be employed in Australia.

Australia has a unique market for machineries and pump/compressor manufacturers or packagers have been facing unique challenges. Some international vendors may not be familiar with Australian Standards (AS) and there have been some special federal or state requirements, for example RPEQ mandatory registration for Queensland.

The first opening keynote featured Ray Beebe and Amin Almasi. Ray presented ‘Condition Monitoring of Pumps’ which explained technologies available for condition monitoring of pumps and how to apply them. Amin presented ‘Overcoming Typical Challenges for Pumps and Compressors in Australia” which discussed vertical pumps, air compressors, centrifugal pumps vs. positive displacement pumps, integrally-geared compressors vs. conventional compressors, turbo-compressor surge, aero-derivatives vs. frames (gas turbines), variable-speed electric motor drivers, and solids/contaminations in pumped liquids.

Chandra Verma presented ‘Increasing Reliability and Life of Vertical, Multistage Pumps Using Focused Repair Processes’ which focused on pump repair process and design upgrade. Alfons Graaf discussed ‘Monitoring Technologies that Deliver Reliability Improvement’ on pumps. This presentation explored pump failure modes, and how they can be detected rapidly and efficiently. Bryan Rodgers presented ‘Simplifying Soft-foot Using Laser Alignment’ which included a ranges of topics such as pre-alignment preparation, measuring soft-foot, recognizing and correcting different types of soft-foot, avoiding creation of soft-foot conditions, and timely completion of the alignment task.

‘Pump Minimum Flow Protection Using Automatic Recirculation Valves’ was discussed by Matthew Thompson. Operating pumps below minimum flow can lead to overheating, cavitation and loss of hydraulic balance. This presentation outlined the operation of an automatic recirculation valve and compared the results with other traditional minimum flow techniques (such as orifice – minimum flow line).

The workshop, ‘A Tool Box of Best Practice and Advice for Your Pump and Compressor Issues’ featured Amin Almasi and tried to demystify important topics for pumps and compressors. The topics included: centrifugal pump operational considerations; magnetic drive pumps, VSD drivers, oil-flooded screw compressors, centrifugal compressors vs. oil-flooded screw compressors, compressors for unconventional gases, dynamic simulation of turbo-compressors and gas turbines.

‘Compressed Air Auditing: Real Results – Real Savings,’ presented by Justin Taylor, discussed the compressed air systems and highlighted the benefits of audits by reviewing several case studies where air leak detection methodologies and usage data analysis provided significant savings. Gregory Baldwin presented ‘Life Cycle Cost of an Air Compressor’ which took a holistic look at the life cycle of an air compressor, from selection to installation, right through to the lifetime operation, which includes energy and maintenance costs.

The workshop on ‘Solving Pumping Problems – A Variety of Case Studies’ featured Ray Beebe and included extracts from Ray's second book, Predictive Maintenance of Pumps using Condition Monitoring, which gained the George Julius Medal from Engineers Australia for the best publication in mechanical engineering of 2004.

‘Simplifying Predictive Maintenance,’ presented by Stephen Young, detailed the emerging technology that makes it cost-effective to obtain the benefits of predictive maintenance across a much wider range. Professor Ian Howard & Dr Gareth Forbes presented the final session, ‘Condition Monitoring of Centrifugal Pumps’ which outlined major fault modes of a centrifugal pump and discussed the use of vibration monitoring techniques for fault diagnosis and prognosis.