Would You Like to Double the Life of Your Pump Parts?
Frac sand mining companies in many parts of the United States know the challenges associated with supplying the fracking industry. High pressure and hard sand cause significant wear to pumps and their assemblies. But fracking is a lucrative industry, so sand providers want to maximize uptime and productivity — the importance of keeping the pumps up and running can’t be overstated.
Barney Johnson, Director of Sales with ISCO Industries, Inc., a distributor of pumps from GIW Industries, Inc., explains that mining frac sand requires specialized equipment to produce the unique sand type necessary for freeing natural gas or oil trapped underground. The mining process requires slurry pumps to work hard 24/7 — and more than 300 days per year.
The right materials for every application
The constant use isn’t the only difficulty, though. The sand particles that fracking companies use are extremely hard, and the slurry mixture being pumped can be as much as 45% solids.
What happens when all of these tiny, hard sand pebbles constantly churn on metal parts? Wear — lots and lots of wear. For this reason, GIW recommends rubber-coated parts for our customers who are mining frac sand. The rubber compound applied to GIW Minerals pumps was developed by Dr. Harry Tian, GIW’s Director of Metallurgy and Materials R&D, and is proprietary to GIW Industries.
GIW Aftermarket Sales Representative and Region Manager Angela Bryant explains, “Sand causes the highest wear rates, especially at solids properties less than one-half inch (fine abrasive slurries). In these applications elastomers such as rubber tend to wear better. With metal (white iron) parts the major erosion is caused by sliding abrasion and particle impact creating high wear and frequent maintenance and replacement of parts. Switching to rubber reduces the frequency of replacement during critical production times.”
Johnson confirms that rubber is a good choice for this application: “Rubber parts, when properly applied, can outlast metal parts three or even four to one.”
With the rubber-coated parts in place, the sand particles bounce off, instead of sliding, so wear life is extended. In an installation for one of his customers, Johnson forecast the wear parts in a pump used for frac sand mining would last two years. In this specific case, the pump was newly installed, so it had a metal impeller and a rubber-coated suction liners and shell. The company finally replaced the wear parts during a scheduled maintenance — 3.75 years later.
“The parts could have lasted four years,” Johnson says.
Fitting all the pieces together
Having the right material is the first key to extended wear life, but others contribute as well.
So how did this company achieve such extended part life? Johnson notes that in such an intensely abrasive environment, it’s also essential to have a very controlled process. Multiple factors limit the effectiveness of the rubber-coated parts, including ensure particles are the right type and of consistent size, operating at proper temperatures, and keeping the system free of debris. “This customer already has a very tightly managed process,” says Johnson.
In addition, applying the right size pump, running pumps at optimum speeds, and following GIW recommendations for operating and maintenance contribute greatly to this customer’s success. As a GIW distributor, ISCO is a valued partner in the aggregate industry. ISCO is able to package GIW Minerals pumps with HDPE piping to provide a convenient package for customers.
For this customer, ISCO also conducted maintenance training at the facility before the plant’s startup. They have since followed GIW specifications during operation to ensure the longevity of the pumps.
The company’s highly-educated representatives provide an extended network that ensures clear communication with GIW experts, quick access to needed parts, and direct information to answer engineering and hydraulics questions.
Johnson understands that companies simply want to stay as productive as possible. He takes pride in providing the optimal pump installation, proper parts, and regular maintenance customers need for success.