AUSTRALIAN CONFERENCE ON PUMPS AND COMPRESSORS

The Pumps and Compressors Conference 2013 in Perth, Australia attracted pump, compressor and reliability specialists from all over Australia. This two-day technical conference delved into the design, maintenance and reliability of pumps and compressors. As such, it provided presentations, keynotes and workshops that tended to focus on centrifugal pumps and turbocompressors. Topics were selected from a variety of industry sectors including energy, gas, LNG, power, mining, water and manufacturing.

The primary industry in Australia is mining and mineral processing, with a special emphasis on coal and iron ore. Additionally, there is a strong market for turbomachinery used in power, water and the domestic gas sector. Many natural gas projects in Australia address coal seam gas (mainly in Queensland) and offshore gas (Western Australia and Northern Territory). In addition, LNG projects to convert coal seam gas and natural gas to LNG for export are popular. The first Floating LNG platform in the world will soon be deployed in Australia.

The country as a whole is a unique machinery environment which poses challenges for pump and compressor manufacturers and packagers. Some international vendors, for example, may not be familiar with Australian Standards (AS). There have also been some special federal or state requirements, such as RPEQ mandatory registration for Queensland.

The opening keynotes on June 26nd featured Ray Beebe and Amin Almasi. Beebe presented “Condition Monitoring of Pumps” which explained the technologies available and how to apply them. Almasi 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, turbocompressor surge, aeroderivatives 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.” This presentation focused on pump repair process and the upgrading of design. Further, Alfons Graaf discussed “Monitoring Technologies that Deliver Reliability Improvement.” He explored pump failure modes, and how they can be detected rapidly and efficiently. Bryan Rodgers also presented “Simplifying Soft-foot Using Laser Alignment” which included a range of topics such as pre-alignment preparation, measuring soft-foot, recognizing and correcting different types of soft-foot, avoiding the creation of soft-foot conditions, and timely completion of the alignment task.

The topic of “Pump Minimum Flow Protection Using Automatic Recirculation Valves” was presented by Matthew Thompson. He discussed how 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 the orifice — minimum flow line).

On the following day, Amin Almasi delivered a morning workshop entitled “A Tool Box of Best Practice and Advice for Your Pump and Compressor Issues.” It attempted to demystify topics for pumps and compressors in Australia including centrifugal pump operational considerations, magnetic drive pumps, variable speed drive (VSD) drivers, oil-flooded screw compressors, centrifugal compressors vs. oil-flooded screw compressors, compressors for unconventional gases, and dynamic simulation of turbocompressors and gas turbines.

Later that day, “Compressed Air Auditing: Real Results, Real Savings” was presented by Justin Taylor. He covered compressed air systems and highlighted the benefits of audits by reviewing several case studies where air leak detection methodologies and usage data analysis provided 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 and through to the lifetime operation, which included a look at energy and maintenance costs.

The workshop on the final evening featured Ray Beebe on “Solving Pumping Problems: A Variety of Case Studies.” This presentation 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.

The show concluded with two interesting talks. “Simplifying Predictive Maintenance” was presented by Stephen Young which detailed emerging technology that could make 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.” It outlined major fault modes of a centrifugal pump and discussed the use of vibration monitoring techniques for the fault diagnosis and prognosis.