A New York pulp & paper mill needed to replace the worn out, low RPM, fixed-speed motors that were driving their Jordan refiners. Lead time from the offshore OEM was a year - and at a considerable cost premium.
Instead of buying specialized motors, Kaman engineers recommended powering the Jordans using standard off-the-shelf variable speed motors and drives, then "gearing them down" to the proper RPM.
The company was able to keep the Jordans on line with minimal downtime, and saved $225,000.
Kaman "drives" initiative to save pulp & paper mill $225,000 using standard off-the-shelf components.
Even under the most benign conditions, modern papermaking is a turbulent process that demands operational extremes not reached in most other types of manufacturing. The brute forces that combine in an industrial ballet of staggering complexity include grinding, shredding and pulverizing forces; boiling temperatures, caustic liquids, harsh chemicals; pressurized vessels, high-speeds, hydraulics, pneumatics and mechanics - all synchronized in a blur of machinery, demanding military precision to execute.
With such interdependent complexity at work, it's no surprise that timely plant and equipment maintenance is a critical and integral part of the operation.
Paper manufacturing involves - among other things - extracting, conditioning and orienting the tiny fibers found in wood so they will bond properly to each other, and to various additives.
A key piece of equipment in this process is the Jordan refiner, a large conical-shaped machine housing rotating elements and slotted screens that filter the wood pulp slurry that comes from the Hollander (or "beater"), a pulp/water mixer that proceeds the Jordan in the manufacturing cycle.
The Jordan refiner is used to further break down the minute cellulose clumps in the slurry, pulverizing and refining them into fibers of equal length and consistency before the mix can be pumped to the Screen, Head Box and Wire - the final stages in the process where paper starts to take its familiar form.
Jordan refiners are large, lumbering, heavy-duty machines driven by special low RPM, fixed speed motors - typically 300 to 400 RPM synchronous. There are few manufacturers of these original equipment motors, and all of them are based overseas. Because of this it takes a year or more for delivery, at a cost of over $100,000. Keeping replacement motors on hand - due to the carrying costs involved - is not usually a practical option.
A time was approaching when this paper manufacturer knew it would have to either overhaul or replace the aging motors on their Jordans.
Kaman's team of engineers was presented with the challenge, analyzed the application and determined that the same result could be achieved using a more economical approach involving standardized components. However, the manufacturer was skeptical. "We've never done it that way" was their initial response. But the Kaman team persisted and was able to demonstrate to the plant maintenance engineering staff that a solution involving standardized components would do the job, cost significantly less and speed up procurement, avoiding potentially costly downtime.
Kaman recommended using a standard 1750 RPM off-the-shelf variable speed motor and controller, combined with a gear reducer to mechanically lower the speed back down to the required 300 RPM. The solution worked!
The motor chosen for the job was a 600 HP Reliance "RPM AC" variable speed duty motor and AC variable speed drive controller, coupled to a Falk 405A 6:06:1 reduction parallel shaft speed reducer using a Jordan "Long Slide" Kop-Flex coupling.
As with most things, old habits die hard. "We've never done it that way" is a refrain that all of us have uttered at one time or another. But while the tried and true may be a safe and reliable approach, visionary companies that are willing to break out of the trap of conventional thinking will often find considerable rewards at the end of their journey. Your Kaman representative can be a valuable guide down that path of discovery.
This manufacturer's willingness to look beyond the traditional solution really paid off in this case. Keeping an open mind to Kaman's suggestion of using standard off-the-shelf components saved the company $225,000 in combined repair/replacement and maintenance costs. Another bonus was that the solution was adaptable to solve the problem with both Jordans, each operating at a different RPM. And replacement parts are now easy to get in a matter of weeks, not one year. That's what we'd call a real "win-win" situation.