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Lack of wear protection costs millions

29 November 2010

Wear protection - the process of coating or lining process plant and equipment, such as cyclones, valves, bunkers, pipework, chutes, with ceramics, metallics or polymers to extend their life, - is under-employed in the UK. This is resulting in unnecessary maintenance costs and lost production time running into millions of pounds per annum for British bulk handling, extraction and recycling industries.

Lack of wear protection costs millions
Lack of wear protection costs millions

At the heart of this problem are the conflicting demands of reducing capital projects costs verses the needs and expectations of maintenance managers and engineers, who inherit the plant after the usual 12- month warranty has expired. In many instances the OEM has to achieve lowest installed cost for new equipment, in order to comply with project costs, while the maintenance manager is looking for minimised whole life costs from improved equipment reliability and longer operating life.

Kingfisher, a specialist in wear protection across all types of industries – process, power generation, water treatment, steel, extraction and bulk and materials handling – has calculated that, on average, users of its wear protection systems benefit by a factor of 5 times their initial outlay, with many installations providing wear life of up to 20-years following appropriate wear treatment.

“Our field experience and calculations shows that it is far more profitable for companies in process industries to employ best practice from Day 1, rather than having to provide regular maintenance and repair of equipment at regular intervals due to problems associated with wear and erosion,” said Julian Brindley, sales and marketing director of Kingfisher. “Reduced maintenance means reduced risk, reduced cost and more production uptime over longer periods – all of which are critically important to improve the efficiencies of companies in competitive markets".

If a process system is designed with wear protection from its inception, then overall equipment costs can often be reduced as the system chosen to protect the equipment can often alleviate the requirement to manufacture components using heavier grades of material.
In addition, involving a wear specialist such as Kingfisher at the design stage of process conveying equipment can streamline the design, optimising process efficiency through reduced turbulence and improved material flow, at the same time ultimately delivering improved service life.”

Kingfisher has produced a graphic to highlight the benefits of its whole life cost argument. The graphic compares the ongoing costs associated with equipment and installations that do not benefit from wear protection, with the one-off (i.e. purchase) costs of enhanced protection, highlighting the continuous operational gains of the latter investment strategy.

The thrust of the argument is clear when considering the typical example of an enclosed pipework system for conveying bulk materials. The system is wear protected, and so is able to provide up to 20-years of life. With this one-off approach, the system user has little or no maintenance requirements over the lifetime of the installation. He does not have the ongoing cost problem – say every 4-years - of breaking the pipework system down - and of interrupting production in the process. He does not have to employ specialist labour and reduces the risks associated with personnel working at height, performing hot work and lifting operations. Also avoided are the tasks of organising access platforms and plant hire, with their attendant costs – and risks; and those of devising clean up procedures for any spillages that can occur when process pipework is perforated, thus creating an environmental issue or potential breach of legislation. As a result, the system user benefits from continuous operational gains which defray the cost of the protection system, guaranteeing a prompt ROI.

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