Over the course of 2012, our EPS Continuous Improvement Program has produced these results:
- EPS production speed increased by 30%,
- Variable operating costs reduced by 15%,
- EPS production lines easier to operate and maintain.
|TMW’s own EPS Sheet Line is central to the EPS Continuous Improvement program. This one-cell line is a ‘production laboratory’ where we try out improved component designs and refined operating strategies, one at a time. It’s where we tested a new Slurry Turbine design that increases grit flow without increasing energy demand. It’s where the logic sequence for a true ?’one button’ startup of an EPS Cell was developed.|
This in-house EPS Cell allows us to quickly install an improvement and then gather real-time operating data to see the effect. If the change was meant to reduce grit consumption, we can see right away if it does and by how much. If the change was meant to extend the life of a component, we can measure wear at specific exposure times and see exactly how much wear has been reduced.
Line Speed Improvements
A constant focus of the EPS Technology Team is how operating speed can be increased. No surprise there: higher speed increases the capacity of an EPS Cell and widens the EPS cost advantage over acid pickling. Because line speed is directly tied to grit flow, the challenge is how to improve grit flow. Our Continuous Improvement efforts achieved more efficient grit flow while at the same time reducing overall grit consumption. Specific improvements were:
- ‘Hard plumbed’ top Slurry Turbine hoses.
- Added aqueducts to bottom Slurry Turbines.
- Optimized size of Diffuser in Slurry Supply line.
- Improved Slurry Turbine – less pin interference for greater grit flow.
- Optimized grit valves with less interference from grit supply to eductors.
- Improved flow spouts to delivery slurry into turbine.
Operating Cost Improvements
The reduction in grit consumption was a big cost improvement by itself. Extending the life of components that experience wear is another because it lowers cost in two ways:
1. Replacement components are needed less frequently.
2. Outage time to inspect or replace components is reduced.
Specific improvements were:
- Reduced grit consumption by 50% . EPS grit usage is now just roughly 15% of shot blasting’s shot usage.
- Implemented longer-life materials for diffuser, slurry inlet tube and spout, end liner and side plate.
- Reduced cyclone separator wear by factor of 8 by rotating and flame-hardening center pipe.
- Converted ‘teetering pump’ to a slurry pump.
- Reduced jet insert cost through cleaner water supply
Operation & Maintenance Improvements
|Operating in a day-to-day EPS production environment, TMW’s EPS operators and maintenance personnel are always on the lookout for areas where practices can be simplified and improved. Ideas they helped develop and implement include a fully automatic grit feeding system and the ‘one-button’ startup and shutdown sequence.|
These improvements lessen the labor required to run and maintain an EPS line to some extent, but more importantly, they help ensure very consistent EPS system performance and product quality. Specific improvements included:
- Improved system cooling.
- Converted jets and diffusers to ‘quick change.’
- Implemented an automatic grit feeding system.
- Dry grit/scale discharge through sludge conveyor.
- Improved protection of the threading pinch roll bearings.
- Made the PLC Operator Interface screens more user-friendly.
- Implemented a quick-adjust magnetic filtration wiping gland.
- Separated final rinse water into its own chamber to prevent grit carryout.
- Reduced cell startup and shutdown processes to ‘one push button’ activation.
- Placed EPS Technical manuals (Startup Preparation, Operation and Maintenance) on-line. Includes video and photos for clear explanation.
EPS in 2013: Full Speed Ahead
Four more EPS Coil Lines will come on line in the first half of 2013, including the first multi-cell lines using the new generation cell design. TMW remains committed to Continuous Improvement of EPS Technology and has added new resources – engineers and information technology – to further increase line speed, reduce operating cost and improve EPS operation and maintenance.