Things are understood depending on whom, how and when they are viewed. Over the course of the last two months I’ve traveled to two very different places; Kuala Lumpur and the town of Ontario, NY.
Reach Workcamp Crew #24
The trip to Ontario was to engage in a week of fixing peoples’ homes with a group of 330 high school age kids attending a Reach Workcamp. One job our group did was to remove an old sagging fiberboard tile ceiling and install new dry wall. None of us possessed the skills of a professional dry-wall hanger. My point of view: When the job was done it looked better than it was before, our group started the job as strangers and emerged as a functioning work unit by a sharing the experience of having tiles, dust and grit rain down on our dust mask covered faces, wrestling dry wall into place and receiving a crash course in mudding and taping joints. An equally justified point of view from someone not part of the work experience would have been, “this ceiling looks like a bunch of kids did it!”
Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur
Asia was a bit different. The World Gas Conference in Kuala Lumpur accepted two of Garlock’s papers for the Experts Showcase poster sessions. The first was on optical monitoring of fugitive emissions from refinery valves and other equipment and the second was on the new EPA mandates regarding valve sealing, aka Enhanced LDAR (leak detection and repair). Prior to presenting the papers, my point of view was, “why were these selected, these are USA centric subjects…now I have to write two papers!” Keep in mind that the major focus of the conference was natural gas, pipelines, LNG transport/production, pipelines and, did I say, pipelines. Not areas where LDAR is normally practiced.
At the conference my point of view changed and so did my understanding. On optical monitoring one participant from a European country remarked that he had a gas compressor station in a highly populated area, an optical fenceline monitoring system with public web access would be perfect to safeguard the public and demonstrate that all was well at the station. I didn’t see that one coming. During presentation of the second paper on the EPA requiring Enhanced LDAR, that is requirements beyond normal LDAR regulations, the listeners (all from Asia, Europe, Scandinavia) were very interested in what the USA was doing in comparison to their own country’s regulations. One gas company manager from Malaysia exclaimed that while most Asian countries rely on social corporate responsibility to safeguard the public and the environment they know that the regulatory practices of the USA will eventually affect the regulations in their home countries.
Ontario, NY and Kuala Lumpur were very different places engaging me in very different activities, but they taught me the same thing: Understanding changes and grows depending on one’s point of view.
When I see a large pickup truck or tractor trailer driving 65 mph, I often wonder, “how often do they fill up”? A standard tractor’s diesel engine hauling a trailer will manage 5 to 7 mpg, where the gasoline burning tractor can get about 3 mpg. I just recently purchased a Kia Forte Eco which is rated to 37 mpg highway. I can travel 100 miles for under 10 dollars. It would cost a tractor trailer over 60 dollars to make the same trip on diesel ($112 using gas). Tractor trailers are the best solution for hauling large loads of product, however when an efficient traveling solution is required, an eco-friendly car is evidently the best approach.
Oil seals have been used for many years to seal lubrication within gearbox and motor assemblies. They will seal in aggressive environments, but aren’t designed to last as long when running full speed. Bearing isolator labyrinth seals were designed in the late 1970s to provide customers with a sealing solution rated for similar lubrication retention capabilities of an oil seal, but with increased contamination exclusion. When discussing sealing solutions throughout industry, it is often overlooked that a seal actually requires a specific amount of power to function. In a controlled lab test, several bearing isolators were tested for power consumption over several 60 minute sessions. The equipment this test was conducted on had a shaft size of 2.560 inches and a bore size of 4.331 inches. Traditional contact lip seals required on average 300 watts of additional power to rotate the equipment at a steady velocity. The same test was conducted using bearing isolators. Metallic bearing isolators (Guardian) used about 5 watts of power whereas non-metallic bearing isolators (Iso-Gard) used on average about 15 watts.
Energy savings directly equates to financial savings. A standard bearing isolator will be in operation roughly 5 years, due to scheduled maintenance and repair, whereas a traditional oil seal will last anywhere from 6-9 months. In a 5 year lifespan, a metallic bearing isolator will cost about $0.22 to operate due to power consumption, while a traditional oil seal will cost $13.14 to operate. A mill or plant which currently has 100 traditional oil seals could save up to $1,300 in power consumption alone when switching to bearing isolators.
Do you have any other questions about bearing isolators? Or energy efficiency questions about our oil seals or bearing isolators? Please contact me at Patrick.rhodes@Garlock.com
June 5, 2012 was a very exciting day for the Garlock family of companies; we launched a redesign of www.garlock.com which had been 6 years in the making!
Because we decided to structure our site to an industry focus rather than a product focus, we needed to gather our Subject Matter Experts (SME’s) from these industries and put our heads together to identify the right products that would fit each market. We learned about ourselves even more, and worked together as a team. We had quite the team in place; SME’s, our agency, upper management to give guidance and our IT group that worked on the back end coding system.
We developed a great site, and we are extremely proud of it. The things we did right included getting the right people involved as I listed earlier. We had a lot of input and the team was very enthusiastic. We had had many comments from our customers telling us our site needed to be improved, so we wanted to make sure that we delivered. I learned too in working with the agency that the best thing to do is come up with a plan before anyone does any type of work. The plan was well drawn out, talking about all of the existing elements that would come over, but then also the enhancements we wanted to add to it and where they would go. One of the lessons learned was that we should have allowed more time for testing the site on our servers. What we didn’t realize was there was old code in elements we needed in the old site that would not translate into this site. We didn’t discover it until we launched the site to the public. We learned as we went, but I think all in all, we hit it on the mark.
In the near future, please be on the lookout for more improvements we will be making to the site including offering it in several languages. We will also be entering the social media world and look forward to communicating with you on a more regular basis. Mobile Apps that will help you find the Garlock family of companies’ products you are looking for while out in the field will also be released in the near future. We have a lot of interesting and innovative things coming your way!
If you have any questions or suggestions on how we can make our tools including our website more user-friendly for you, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for visiting our site and choosing Garlock!
You have to have more than one boat! I probably don’t need to explain that comment. Or do I?
Some people I know actually try to get by with only one boat! Crazy, right? I’ve kept my little 16’ Glastron for about 20 years. It was inexpensive, it runs great, and I’ve not had to fix it much, so there has been no real reason to get rid of it. But after almost drowning my adult children trying to get back to the launch in heavy head-winds, I decided to pick up a used 19-1/2’ “Cuddy” cabin, which is a lot better in rough water. But years later, I THOUGHT it would be cool to have a little cabin that we can sleep in, so I found an ‘88 Cabin cruiser with low hours. It was small enough to keep and transport on a trailer. I tried to sell the 195 (really I did!) but couldn’t get my price. However, having three very different boats has not been completely crazy, though most people think it is.
Sometimes I take the 16’Glastron because it’s easy to tow and cheap to run, but as I said this boat is terrible in rough water. So I might take the Four Winns with the cuddy cabin. It’s taller and warmer and cuts through the waves much better. But sometimes you want to spend the night on the boat! They each have their advantages and disadvantages.
Many times, customers are frustrated because they would really like to do all their applications with one gasket material. That would certainly make life simple, and eliminate any mis-application of gaskets. Inventory becomes pretty simple as well. But no gasket is the right gasket for all applications. Just like with boats. There are so many variations in application parameters, including temperature, internal pressure, fluids sealed, and flange type (which means variations in available compressive load).
Using one gasket for everything means you are often not using the best gasket for each service. There are many light weight flanges where a rubber gasket is the best option, since rubber is about the easiest gasket to seal. Other products are likely to leak in some flanges. A universal gasket will almost always cost more than rubber. Utility services in raised face (RF) flanges are best served using a fiber gasket. Rubber is NOT recommended in RF flanges; over-compression in RF flanges is the number one cause for failure of rubber gaskets. High temperature applications will often use metal and graphite, and food, drug and chemical applications use a PTFE-based gasket.
Use the right equipment for the job: as long as there is enough room for storage, make sure you have a variety of boats (or gaskets) for the variety of applications you encounter!
Send me your bigger, better boat stories! (Or “one gasket fits all” stories if you like)
The weather is getting nicer so I decided to open the pool. I took out the pump and connected the hoses. Those in warm climates may not need to ever drain water and disconnect hoses for the winter, like us northerners do. I started the pump and discovered leaks at multiple connection points. The connection is just a hose clamp around a flexible plastic tube. What could I try other than tightening the hose clamp some more? There must be an ideal amount of compression to get a good seal. Being that it leaks, my initial value must have been too low. The pipe nipple is just plastic; I assume I can over tighten this hose clamp and crack the pipe nipple. I tightened as much as I dared, for fear of cracking the plastic, and it still leaks.
Much like my plastic hose connection, gaskets have an ideal amount of compression. A gasket can be over or under compressed. Most people recognize that there is a temperature and pressure limit for gasket materials. Looking up temperature and pressure ratings, and verifying the gasket meets your needs, is relatively straight forward. Chemical compatibility may be a little more often overlooked but still usually considered by thorough Engineers and Designers. As an Application Engineer for gasketing, the compression on the gasket is the application detail most often over looked.
A gasket with too little compression will leak. A gasket with too much compression can be crushed and ultimately leak as well. Different gasket materials perform best with different compressive loads. Rubber gaskets are intended for low compressive loads. We recommend a stress range between 600 and 1,200 PSI for rubber. This is well suited for flat face flanges and lightly bolted covers. A raised face flange will usually exceed 1,200 PSI of compressive stress on the gasket. Compressed non-asbestos gaskets are better suited for this stress range. Compressed non-asbestos gaskets work best in the 4,800 to 15,000 PSI stress range. Metallic gaskets are suited for even higher stresses. Most metal gaskets have a recommended assembly stress range of 10,000 to 30,000 PSI.
The gasket compression will be dependent on the available bolt load and gasket contact area. Low contact area leads to higher compression as does more bolting. Remember to consider gasket compressive stress when selecting a gasket.
If you are wondering, my pool filter still leaks. At least it’s outside. If only these were gasketed joints, I could calculate the ideal compression.
What’s the buzz lately? Hydrofracking! Whether you hear about it in the news or see a sign on the side of the road (“No Fracking”) this mining process is getting a lot of attention these days. Since the discovery of large underground deposits of natural gas such as the Marcellus Shale (stretches from southern part of New York down to the southern tip of West Virginia) a new race is on to tap into this newly found energy supply.
I was tasked to research the following question, “What special equipment is involved in this hydrofracking process that makes it any different than typical oil well drilling or even well water drilling and how does Garlock get involved with supplying sealing solutions?” The answer, “there is not much difference at all in equipment and most likely Garlock is already involved in some portion of the hydrofracking process”. This type of mining has been around since 1947 and surprisingly the same equipment is used in all of these drilling processes. The only additional steps involved in hydrofracking are the additional horizontal well drill (after the vertical well is drilled) and the fracturing of the shale rock to release the trapped natural gas. The resource is then recovered at the top of the drill site. Bottom line is drill mining equipment manufacturers/rebuilders are making and repairing the equipment that is used in any type of drill mining application including hydrafracture mining. The vertical well mining equipment market utilizes all types of sealing devices, which includes gasketing, dynamic seals, hydraulics, compression packing, and bearing isolators that Garlock currently offers today.
Sometimes good enough! Nothing is perfect, which is why it’s important to recognize that everything has a range that it can successfully operate in. This range is useful to know for many processes and components, but especially with respect to sealing solutions. Knowing these capabilities may help you save money, headaches, and potentially avoid a safety issue. Pipes shift away from both concentricity and parallelism, flanges may have a nick or a burr, or the media changes. What happens to your system? Do you have to replace or realign a massive pipe or is there another option? Will that little blemish in your flange cause a leak? Will your media chemically attack your gaskets? These are all valid questions! An understanding of the different capabilities of the various sealing options may help you make a decision that saves time and money. When your application changes, it’s important to recognize that you may have more options than you realize.
Gasketing material can take many irregularities in stride and still seal the media. That’s where the compressibility and recovery of a gasket comes into play. The compressibility of a gasket allows the material to conform to the flange irregularities, like non – parallelism, surface finish, and minor nicks. The wear and tear an industrial flange faces between manufacturing and installation may mean some nicks on the face, which may be acceptable if the gasket can conform and create a seal. Your system was probably designed with specific chemicals in mind as well, but the chemicals may change due to changes in the system, new manufacturing processes, etc. From a chemical compatibility standpoint, consult the gasketing company directly to determine if your new media will be compatible with the gaskets. If not, work with them to figure out a solution. Most sealing companies will have an applications team to help you work through material compatibility.
Part of the reason a flange may not be perfectly true is the entire pipe has shifted over time. A few common reasons pipes move over time could be heating and cooling causing thermo-mechanical movement, poor support structure, and miscalculations. One common solution is the expansion joint. The unique aspect of an expansion joint is they can be built to custom-fit your misaligned pipes. So if your two pipes are one foot apart and Pipe A is six inches higher than Pipe B, a custom joint can be built to connect them without leaks. Poof! No leak and you don’t have to run a new length of pipe or support the pipe in a creative fashion. The expansion joints quoted for newly built plants are standard dimensions and straight. Three or four years later the requests are for joints with misalignment, indicating the systems have shifted since they were first installed.
The point is that, because many products will work in a range of situations or services, you have options when your system changes. A few minutes on the phone with someone experienced with sealing may help you avoid installing new piping or reworking pipes, prevent a leak from a material in the wrong media, or you may avoid the trouble of remachining flanges.
Most people would call me cheap; I’m always looking for a deal. My first and only marathon was a typical example. I started training with a pair of shoes that were already 3 years old (I’m sure some veteran runner has fallen off their chair with that confession). I‘m not a particularly fast runner but after signing up for the D.C. Marathon I had only one goal: to beat Oprah Winfrey’s time (4:29:20). Two months into training, I started to feel an intense pain in my knee. By that point I had put a lot of time and energy into training and was not willing to walk away from the race, so I had to make drastic changes to my training program. I carefully stretched before and after every run, ran on level ground as much as I could, and even stayed off the pavement for long runs. I still could not get rid of the pain. After exhausting all options in my control it finally dawned on me: could it be my shoes? That weekend I went out and bought a brand new pair of running shoes. Guess what? It solved it.
I hear similar stories very often with industrial products. Today’s focus for companies is to cut costs but cutting costs does not mean you can cut corners. Deferred maintenance can often times cause long term break downs that cost a lot more than the cost of parts, when you consider the cost of labor and loss of productivity. The same is true for quality of products as well; cheaper is not alwaysbetter. We recently heard of an incident involving an application for rubber expansion joints in a pulp and paper mill utilizing “white liquor”, a strong alkaline solution used in the first stage of the Kraft process. Although we recommended the use of Fluorinated Ethylene Propylene (FEP) as a liner material to protect the inner surface of the expansion joint, the plant opted to go with a cheaper joint without the FEP liner. Several months later we received a report that the joint had catastrophically failed and greatly threatened the safety of a worker walking by. Since the elastomeric tube of the expansion joint was unprotected from the “white liquor”, it was attacked and eventually the body of the expansion joint burst. The white liquor spewed out on someone passing by . Since that incident the plant only orders expansion joints with FEP liners. The time and money spent on taking care of the situation after the failure far outweighed the price the better expansion joint before the failure.
So, I know some of you are wondering, did I beat Oprah? I’ll tell if you promise not to laugh. She beat me fair and square, and I can’t even blame it on old shoes.
As times change so do the business models. Innovation has become one of the core elements for a company to be successful and sustainable. The challenge of innovation is getting a constant flow of good ideas. I stumbled upon the following video by Steven Johnson discussing how good ideas are generated. It is based on his book Where Good Ideas Come from
I found this intriguing and very true. In the new innovation culture, we are not only required to think outside of the box, but to live outside of the box as well, in order to stay connected with society; How can we think outside of the box, if we are told to live in one? Companies with great innovation success are encouraging their employees to not only focus on that great big idea. Instead they look for those small “hunches” and rewards the small and little ideas that help create that multi-million idea.
Some great points for discussion
Breakthrough ideas never come in a sudden stroke of inspiration…
Good ideas come from collisions of smaller hunches and time to incubate…
How and where do we allow these hunches to connect and collide?
Is the internet the platform? Or does it inhibit innovation?
Everyone learns at a very young age, if something doesn’t work, do whatever it takes to fix it . It was a sunny but brisk Saturday, I was home from school on spring break and I wanted to ride my bike after it sat through a long cold winter. Eager to go out and ride my bike, I riffled through my dad’s tools in the garage looking for anything that resembled chain lube, sprayed my chain and was off into town. It wasn’t till days later I realized the spray bottle that I had pulled out of the cabinet wasn’t lubrication at all, once my chain seized up and broke from the corrosive ingredients in the bottle.
If a bearing housing is leaking or is somehow becoming contaminated, it is common in today’s industry to just replace the seal, and proceed with business as usual.
Bearing isolators were originally designed to retain lubrication and exclude contamination while eliminating wear on the equipment where they are installed. However, many think that the standard metallic bearing isolator will solve every lubrication retention problem they have in their plant. This was actually relatively true until recently when manufacturers have started to change their approach at the sealing solution.
For example, bearing isolators are being used today for a wide variety of applications. Shaft grounding bearing isolators are used for the electrical grounding of shafts in VFD-controlled electric motors. This is accomplished by using a traditional labyrinth jointed with a conductive ring of bristles to allow for voltage mitigation without pitting the bearing races.
Heavily contaminated abrasive environments are now being combated with the addition of a microcellular foam to the traditional labyrinth design to prevent the ingress of dust and fine particulates from the air. Non-traditional labyrinth paths are also being used to contest heavy lubricated environments where a traditional labyrinth design couldn’t be used. FDA compliant applications can utilize a few of these technologies through the use of stainless steel or Teflon based compounds.
Do you have any applications you wish you could use a bearing isolator? Leave us a comment below.