Posted at 11 June 2020

Preserving the paint line

Paul Skade
By Mick Holland
Director, Sealing and Polymer

Since joining ERIKS in 2010, Mick has continually focussed upon building a strong team able to employ significant technical and logistical resources to deliver co...

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Paint is a commodity we’ve all used. To give our bedroom a new look or give that tatty old fence panel a new lease of life. It’s used to colour cars, ships and planes. You name it, and it’s probably been painted.


But paint doesn’t mix itself. It undergoes a complex process before it’s suitable and ready for use. So, when a multi-national paint manufacturer was experiencing issues with its latest Wood Preserver Paint line, ERIKS was the first port of call when production shutdown was imminent.

Horrifyingly, in the first 24 hours of production, all eight new pumps were failing due to product leakage through the mechanical seal faces. Production had to cease. There was no alternative. Instead of producing the required 2000 litres per hour, the line was put on stop, while the pumps were dismantled, seals cleaned and refitted. And this was happening two to three times per day.

Capital was being lost. And at a fast rate. To put it into perspective, the Senior Reliability Manager confirmed that according to OEM pump supplier lead times, the line was going to be slowed down for a minimum of 12 weeks. This stoppage would generate a lost saleable opportunity estimated at £25,000 a day, five days per week, for three months.

Back in production. For now

Upon viewing the problem, the ERIKS onsite utilised our strong supply network, inviting a partner supplier to site to discuss possible solutions. Money was being lost by the minute. A resolution was needed as a matter of urgency.

It was decided, as a temporary measure, simply to get the customer back in operation, that the existing seal faces were taken away and re-lapped. Production could recommence within 24 hours, and although not ideal, it gave time for ERIKS to source the root cause of the problems, while keeping the customer happy.

A stroke of genius

With the line up and running, although not to its required production levels, further examination was undertaken. ERIKS suggested, alongside their partner supplier, that the seal faces from the existing seal arrangement were re-engineered using Silicon Carbide rather than Chromium-Oxide.

Currently, the Chromium-Oxide coated plate, which is microns thick and porous, was running against a carbon seal which was also porous. This was allowing the fluid in contact with the plate to ball up between the seals. Changing the main seal to Silicon Carbide reduced this issue.

Additionally, the plate was bored into and sat in a rubber boot, before being fitted with a Silicon Carbide face. Now, when the two seal faces meet, nothing can ball up the material. New seals were retrofitted into the existing pump mechanical seal housing for all eight pumps.

Failure-free future

Since the retrofit, the customer has reported no mechanical seal failures, a drastic change from two to three issues every day. Through ERIKS, the customer has also ordered four new mechanical seals, with the correct silicon carbide arrangement, as spares.

Not only did the customer avoid unimaginable production losses of £1,500,000 but the new seal arrangement eliminated the purchase of a new pump installation, approximated at £80,000 initial outlay.

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