Eaton ACE Team, Products Pipe New Life into ACIPCO Hydraulic Systems
“Overall, we are very impressed and pleased with the ease of system startups and system reliability, as well as Eaton’s support at all levels of engineering, its commitment to delivery dates, its system training, and its excellent communication throughout the project. Our new hydraulic systems have been running two shifts a day for seven days a week without any downtime, which is the direct result of well-designed systems.”
Since 2001, Eaton and its distributor, Motion Industries, have taken up residence at American Cast Iron Pipe Company (ACIPCO) to pipe new life into in-plant hydraulic systems. Thanks to the product know-how, technical support, and ingenuity of Eaton and Motion Industries personnel, the project was completed with virtually no production downtime.
ACIPCO of Birmingham, Alabama, is the world’s largest, single-site manufacturer of ductile iron pipe, fire hydrants, and valves for water works applications, as well as electricresistant steel pipe for oil and natural gas pipelines. In order to improve throughput, the company called on the services of Eaton’s Application and Commercial Engineering (ACE) team and Motion Industries to upgrade 1980s-era hydraulic systems in its 120,000-squarefoot plant that coats the interior lining of cast iron pipe with cement. Over $1 million of Eaton products were used in the upgrade of the cement-lining plant, including proportional valves, slip-in cartridge valves, manifolds, hydraulic power units, pumps, filters, and kidney-loop cooling and filtration conditioning systems.
Cast iron pipes enter ACIPCO’s cement-lining plant on conveyors from a casting plant. The pipes move through many hydraulically operated processes, such as cleaning, centrifugal cement lining, sealing, and exterior painting, on a walking-beam transfer line in the cement-lining plant that is over two football fields in length.
The hydraulic system makeover included the sequential upgrade of three areas, including a cementlining system for pipe from 18 to 54 inches in diameter, cement-lining rotator and application station, and a cement-lining system for 4- to 16-inch diameter pipe.
The project presented many challenges. System shocks, overheating, and oil leakage that plagued the existing systems, as well as their associated maintenance costs, needed to be overcome in the new system designs — not to mention meeting production throughput requirements during the massive undertaking.
After a thorough analysis, Eaton ACE and Motion Industries personnel went to work to define the flow and pressure requirements for the complete pipe lining cycle, calculate component sizing, and verify the adherence of Eaton products to hydraulic specifications. The team recommended Eaton’s Vickers® KB Series proportional valves with onboard electronics and Vickers CVI 25/63 Series slipin cartridge valves to control system shocks.
Team members explained how properly sized coolers and tanks would eliminate oil overheating, as well as how using properly sized filters in specific locations would increase reliability and eliminate downtime. Custom Vickers cartridge-based manifolds were proposed to replace competitive valves that activated critical lift/ lower and extend/retract walking beam functions. Vickers manifold-based circuit designs were suggested for all inline and sub-platemounted components, in order to eliminate oil leakage and reduce pressure drops.
The team also recommended replacing multiple power units with a central Vickers power unit to reduce leakage, oil usage, and maintenance costs and to simplify overall system maintenance. A Vickers kidney-loop cooling and filtration conditioning system was suggested to increase reliability and eliminate overheating. Vickers PVH Series pumps were recommended to achieve plant-wide commonality of components, and Hydrokraft™ TVWS Series transmission pumps were proposed to replace outdated, competitive pumps.
Agreeing that the Eaton product proposals and accompanying technical support met its requirements, ACIPCO gave Eaton and Motion Industries a green light to begin the plant’s hydraulics makeover.
Eaton Engineering Support took on the task of project management that entailed coordinating power unit and manifold drawings and designs, bills of material, parts ordering, assembly, and testing to meet committed delivery dates. Meanwhile, Eaton Field Engineering was in charge of putting together maintenance manuals as each hydraulic system was built, as well as system training.
During the six-year-long project, Eaton and Motion Industries partnered with ACIPCO to provide comprehensive design, build, and start-up support for each of the ACIPCO cementlining systems and the rotator and application station. Along with engineering and design, Eaton and Motion Industries made sure the logistics and inventory tools met the critical startup and production needs of ACIPCO.
“Delivery, installation, and startup of each system went very smooth and on schedule, without losing a single day of production, says Nalin Shah, Eaton ACE engineer. “This was achieved through excellent communication between ACIPCO, Motion Industries, and Eaton.” In addition to improving quality of parts through process improvements, the new hydraulic systems have resulted in a substantial cost-savings for ACIPCO, says Jason Wyers, ACIPCO engineer in charge of the hydraulic system upgrades.
“By replacing the individual power unit on each valve stand with a central hydraulic system, we have been able to cut oil usage in half per lining system.
“Overall, we are very impressed and pleased with the ease of system startups and system reliability, as well as Eaton’s support at all levels of engineering, its commitment to delivery dates, its system training, and its excellent communication throughout the project.
“Our new hydraulic systems have been running two shifts a day for seven days a week without any downtime, which is the direct result of welldesigned systems.”