Temperature and leak monitoring boosts safety and reliability

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Courtesy of ALLWEILER GmbH

Amcor Flexibles Singen GmbH is a manufacturer of printed and unprinted aluminum-based packaging materials and an experienced technical applications specialist. Its plant in Germany, equipped with rolling mills and finishing equipment, turns out approximately 200 million square meters of aluminum foil in various grades every year. High-performance drying equipment is essential for Amcor’s production process. After application of coatings, warm air dries the foil, which moves through the drying equipment at a speed of up to 600 meters per minute.

High pump requirements
Having centralized thermal oil pumps that operate safely and dependably is critical for the drying process. One aspect of this is the high loads placed on the pumps. Secondly, failure of a pump can have serious consequences, especially if hot oil escapes. This makes operators of heat transfer systems very sensitive to leakage. For this reason, engineers walk a fine line when designing shaft seals in heat transfer pumps. While water normally escapes through the sealing clearance as a vapor, escaping heat transfer oil is always readily visible. Consequently, leakage must be minimized as much as possible but without overloading the seal. The unusually high loads on the pump are the result of high temperatures and temperature differentials as well as decomposition reactions that may occur when the heat transfer liquid is subjected to excessive thermal loads. In particular, the chain-like hydrocarbons decompose over time into 'low boilers' and 'high boilers'. If the proportion of low boilers is too high, the pump may cavitate. High boilers appear in many forms, from bitumen-like consistency to extremely hard carbonized products, and accelerate wear on the pump. Both threaten the pumps’ bearings and shaft seals. Amcor Flexibles Singen uses synthetic thermal oils to reduce the formation of low and high boilers, but the low viscosity and low lubricity of these materials mean that they have disadvantages as well. Tribological loads on the gliding components of mechanical seals are particularly high.

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