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Reasonable pump life assessed from published statistics

In the preface to a recent Pump Users Handbook (ISBN 0-88173517-5) we alluded to pump failure statistics. These failure statistics are often translated into mean-time-between-failure (MTBF). For what its worth, and so as not to get enmeshed in arguments, many of the best-practices plants in the early 2000s simply took all their installed pumps, divided this number by the number of repair incidents, and multiplied it by the time period being observed. For a well-managed and reasonably reliability-focused US refinery with 1,200 installed pumps and 156 repair incidents in one year, the MTBF would be 1,200/156 = 7.7 years. The refinery would count replacing parts as a repair incidentany partsregardless of cost. In this case, a drain plug worth $1.70 or an impeller costing $5,000 would show up the same way on the MTBF statistics. Only replacing lube oil would not be counted as a repair. The best-practices plants total repair cost for pumps would include costs for all direct and indirect labor, materials, indirect labor and overhead, administration, labor to procure parts, and even the prorated cost of pump-related fire incidents. References to the stated average cost of pump repairs are: $10,287 in 1984 and $11,000 in 2005. We believe this indicates, in relative terms, a repair cost reduction, because a 2005-dollar bought considerably less than the 1984dollar. It can be reasoned that predictive maintenance and similar monitoring having led to a trend toward reduced failure severity. Using the same bare-bones measurement strategy and from published data and observations made in the course of performing maintenance effectiveness studies and reliability audits in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the MTBFs of Table 1 have been estimated.
Other studies of pump statistics. In early 2005, Gordon

TABLE 1. Pump mean-times-between-failures (years)

ANSI pumps, average, US ANSI/ISO pumps average, Scandinavian pulp and paper plants API pumps, average, US API pumps, average, Western Europe API pumps, repair-focused refinery, developing country API pumps, Caribbean region API pumps, best-of-class, US refinery, California All pumps, best-of-class petrochemical plant, US, Texas All pumps, major petrochemical company, US, Texas 2.5 3.5 5.5 6.1 1.6 3.9 9.2 10.1 7.5

TABLE 2. Suggested refinery seal target MTBFs (months)

Excellent Very good Average Fair Poor >90 70/90 70 62/70 <62

TABLE 3. Realistic target pump and component lifetimes (months)

(Note that target is less than best actually achieved) Refineries Chemical and other plants Seals, excellent Seals, average Couplings, all plants Bearings, all plants 90 70 Membrane type Gear type Continuous operation Spared operation 55 45 120 > 60 60 120 48

Buck, the John Crane Companys chief engineer for field operations in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, examined the repair records for a number of refinery and chemical plants and obtained meaningful reliability data for centrifugal pumps. A total of 15 operating plants having nearly 15,000 pumps were included in the survey. The smallest of these plants had about 100 pumps; several plants had over 2,000 pumps. All plants were located in the US. Also, all plants had some sort of pump reliability program in progress. Some of these programs could be considered as new; others as renewed and still others as established. Many of these plants, but not all, have an alliance contract with John Crane. In some cases, the alliance contract included having a John Crane technician or engineer onsite to coordinate various aspects of the program. Not all plants are refineries, however, and different results can be expected elsewhere. In chemical plants, pumps have traditionally been throw away items since chemical attack limited their life. Things have improved in recent years, but the limited space available in DIN and ASME stuffing boxes limits the type of seal that can be fitted to more compact and simple versions. Lifetimes in chemical installations are generally believed to be around 50% to 60% of the refinery values.

Pumps (Based on series system calculation)

Target pump and component lifetimes. Based on the

lifetime levels being achieved in 2000 and combined with the known best practice as outlined in available reference texts, the target component lifetimes of Table 3 are recommended and should be considered readily achievable. It should again be emphasized that many plants are achieving these levels. Nevertheless, to reach these pump lives, the pump components must be operating at the highest levels. An unsuitable seal with a lifetime of one month or less will have a catastrophic effect on pump MTBF, as would a badly performing coupling or bearing. HP
The author is HPs Equipment/Reliability Editor. A practicing engineer with over
40 years of applicable experience, he advises process plants worldwide on reliability improvement and maintenance cost-avoidance topics.