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plumbway pump challenge

Plumbway Deals with a Pump Challenge

When Plumbway got the call from a local bottling company that a pump was down, we sent Tom, our very own pump whisperer, to quickly figure out a cost-effective customized solution that is now saving the company thousands of dollars each year.

There’s a lot of junk on a warehouse floor that disappears into the depths of a commercial floor-cleaning machine. Ideally, mesh guards on the machine prevent all that floor flotsam—wood chips from pallets, nails, stones, dirt—from washing down the drain to the pump when the machine is emptied. Efficiency-minded maintenance staff at the warehouse however, had decided to remove the guard so water would drain faster after the job was done. With nothing to screen the debris it was only a matter of time before the pump (and the company) paid the price.

The diagnosis: The pump had seized and Tom noticed it was leaking bearing oil—a sure sign that it was a goner. Having helped the client choose the pump, Tom knew it was well suited to this particular commercial application and wasn’t likely the problem. A quick peek in the pump chamber, which had no cover, showed it was full of debris. Further investigation revealed that the cleaning machine was missing its protective guard. Tom’s conclusion? Facility design and employee ingenuity were conspiring to put the pump at risk.

The solution: The pump chamber was generously sized so Tom designed a stainless steel perforated sleeve to protect the pump from drain water and a corrosion-resistant aluminum lid to keep debris from falling in from above—essentially screening the water at the pump instead of at the machine. The sleeve’s ¼-inch holes would be small enough to keep debris out but large enough to maintain good water flow. The whole set-up was designed to allow the staff easy access for maintenance and cleaning and hassle-free removal of the pump in case it needed to be serviced or replaced. Once they gave the green light, Tom worked with a local fabricator to bring his drawings to life and within a couple of weeks the pump protection system was in place.

The bottom line: Tom’s solution has made everyone happy, from the plant floor to the corner office. With a system that cost about as much as a single pump replacement, the company is saving many thousands of dollars in future capital costs. Employees are pleased they no longer have to manually clean floors when the pump is down (and no one has asked them to put the mesh guards back on the machine).

“It would’ve been easier to put in a new pump every time the old one broke, since the client had a maintenance budget and approval for that already. But we pride ourselves on coming up with permanent solutions to long-term customer problems. Today, our client is really happy with the way the pump is performing. And when another client heard the story, they wanted a similar system for their pumps, too.”

– Tom Dowling




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