Planning your Next Turnaround with Reliability in Mind
Lubrication Focused Recommendations for your next Turnaround
With the 2023 turnaround season quickly approaching, I thought that it might be helpful to point out some key activities to consider as you finalize your plans. While turnaround budgets can be tight especially in our current economic environment, the downstream effects of poor lubrication can impact as much as 30% of a total plant maintenance budget. The following are some areas to consider as you plan your next turnaround with reliability in mind:
Oil Changes vs Oil Analysis
While some maintenance groups have time-based oil change intervals, most are moving towards a condition-based approach to determining whether to change the oil during a turnaround or extend the drain until the next. Around two to three months prior to your turnaround, it’s very important to take oil samples from all of your rotating equipment to either confirm that it’s time for an oil change or to determine how much life is left in your oil. You may even discover that efforts to recondition the oil through filtration, dehydration, or varnish removal may prove to be a much more cost-effective strategy than changing out the oil. If you’re using a lot of synthetic oils, this is certainly something you’re going to want to consider.
Don’t have anyone to take your samples? Learn more about IFM’s Turn-Key Oil Sampling & Analysis Programs.
Confined Space Reservoir Cleaning
Whether you’re draining your lube oil console to change the oil or to perform maintenance on a lube oil pump, a confined space reservoir cleaning is a great way to remove the harmful contamination that will often accumulate at the bottom of a lube oil console. After all, one of the purposes of the reservoir is to allow large contaminants to settle at the bottom. The problem is, if these contaminants such as dirt, sludge, varnish, and other environmental and process contaminants are left in the sump, oil can begin to oxidize at an accelerated rate leading to problems down the road such as varnish.
For many years, the way to treat varnish buildup in turbomachinery was to chemically clean and flush the lube oil piping. As a measure of caution, a sacrificial charge of new turbine oil was often included in the total cost of the project. While chemical cleaning and oil flushing are great methods of pre-commissioning pipe cleaning, these services do not come without their risks. Chemicals commonly used to remove varnish such as detergents/dispersants, if not removed from the system entirely, can wreak havoc on a turbine oil’s demulsibility and other additive chemistry properties. The following are some better varnish removal options to consider if you think you might have a problem with varnish:
3 Cost Effective Methods of Removing Varnish
1. Chevron VARTECH Industrial Systems Cleaner
Chevron Vartech Industrial System Cleaner (ISC) is a deposit cleaning product added directly to the oil in use during operation to clean a system of varnish and sludge deposits before a scheduled oil change. It helps prepare the system for optimum performance prior to a new, fresh oil change. The best part about it is that it’s fully compatible with Chevron Turbine Oils and has been tested with many other brands as well. If any residual amounts are left in the system, the oil will perform as designed.
2. Ion Exchange Resin Media Filtration
Ion resin exchange media is carefully selected to remove varnish suspending in the lubricant. This can be measured with oil analysis as well as system performance. If you’ve used this method in the past but haven’t seen the best results, I would encourage you to reach out to our lubrication experts to learn how we match each resin media type based on the type of varnish in your system.
3. Chevron GST Premium XL Turbine Oils
The best way to address varnish is to prevent its formation in the first place. Formulated with VARTECH technology, Chevron GST Premium XL turbine oils inherently resistant the formation of varnish extending the useful life of your turbine oils and keeping your system performing as designed.
High Velocity Oil Flushing
Depending on condition of your lube oil piping or the activities taking place during your next turnaround that might introduce contamination into your lube oil system, a high velocity oil flush might be necessary to remove harmful contamination from your lube oil piping prior to startup. One thing to look out for that might prompt you to consider a high velocity oil flush during your next turnaround is frequent filter plugging or evidence of wear on the system bearings.
Oil Filtration & Dehydration
Depending on your oil sample results, you may determine that removing particulate or water from lube oil is more cost effective than changing the oil all together. A vacuum dehydrator is the best piece of equipment to not only remove water but particulate from lube oil.
Turnarounds are the best time to address any plans to modify lube oil equipment. Something as simple as installing a sample valve or site glass can be impossible while a system is running but if you can make a plan to make all of these modifications prior to you next turnaround, your equipment will be outfitted with the drain port adapters, site glasses, dedicated drain and fill ports on cooling towers to help maximize reliability during operation.
While turnaround budgets can be tight especially in our current economic environment, the downstream effects of poor lubrication can cost as much as 30% of a total plant maintenance budget. If you’re planning a turnaround in 2021 with long-term reliability in mind, contact one of our lubrication services experts today to learn how IFM can help you deliver Turnkey Reliability to your operation.