Remember Your Processing Kettles During Your Upcoming Plant Shutdown


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Topic: Quality Assurance | Industry: General | Author: John Weaver

Remember Your Processing Kettles During Your Upcoming Plant Shutdown

Winter shutdowns are right around the corner. For manufacturers that depend on processing kettles and tanks, preparing for these crucial weeks becomes critically important, and not just because it’s an ideal time to take care of annual maintenance. Your winter shutdown can put your facility in a position to succeed next year—or leave you chasing maintenance issues that could have been addressed much earlier.

Thoroughly assessing your equipment and exploring preventative maintenance needs for a new year of production will allow you to avoid costly repairs and unscheduled downtime in the new year. Here are two key areas to watch as you look ahead to your shutdown.

Use preventative vessel inspections to reduce your downtime next year


Anticipating issues with your processing equipment is a key part of keeping your downtime as low as possible. Inspecting your equipment thoroughly during your annual shutdown will allow you to plan ahead for maintenance issues in 2019 or to address them immediately before they lead to production delays.

Start your inspections by checking your vessel’s jacket integrity. Leaks may be difficult to spot depending on your vessel’s design. If you find any, they’ll have to be repaired by a certified ASME Code Technician and Inspector.

Next, examine your vessel’s agitator shaft alignment and drive, gearbox and motor bearings, paying especially close attention to sounds. Unusual vibrations or sounds from the agitator shaft can be a sign of bent or misaligned equipment, which can lead to serious issues elsewhere in your vessel, even as serious as a broken agitator shaft. Grinding noises often mean worn bearings or bushings in the gearbox or drive motor. Check for visible wear such as rounded gear teeth.

It’s also important to devote part of your inspection time to your vessel’s safety features. From safety switches to lid-lifting hinges, make sure each of the features operates correctly as you conduct your vessel inspection.

Plan to replace commonly worn parts 


Normal wear and tear will occur through everyday use of your vessel and your annual shutdown is an ideal time to plan for it. By understanding your replacement cycle, you’ll be able to have the parts on hand to address the most common issues with your equipment, positioning your facility to run smoothly and efficiently in 2019. 

Defining your criteria for replacing parts preemptively is straightforward, often as simple as determining to replace a given part when it reaches a certain number of hours of use or reaches a certain number of months since it was replaced. Agitator drive bearings are a perfect example of a part that could be replaced in this way, since they can fail suddenly and without warning as they age. 

Seals and O-rings on ball valves and elsewhere in the vessel could also be replaced in this manner to prevent leakage and assure correct operation. Scraper blades, which can chip or break as they age, could also be good candidates for a pre-determined replacement plan. 

Be proactive to make your annual shutdown as productive as it can be


If you’re hoping for 2019 to be efficient and downtime free, taking steps now is key to achieving that goal. Anticipating issues before they arise through a well-planned inspection routine and replacing potentially worn parts are two excellent ways to both increase your efficiency and reduce your downtime.

For more information, download the Scheduled Service Checklist, with recommendations for what to inspect and replace during your scheduled shutdown.  Or contact Lee Industries -- our Vessel Service Program offers skilled, factory-trained service technicians who can assist and guide your shutdown and scheduled maintenance. This service program fills up quickly, so let us know as soon as possible to secure a spot prior to your shutdown period.


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