Mines and industry rely on critical high pressure pump technology to keep operations safe and efficient, which makes rigorous testing of this equipment an essential part of the manufacturing process.
According to Kathryn Poke, director of engineering at RMI Pressure Systems, dedicated test cells in the company’s Manchester production facility support a range of technical tests to ensure final product quality. RMI Pressure Systems is a global leader in high pressure and high volume fluid pumping stations, with over a century’s experience in designing, manufacturing and supporting this technology. With a primary manufacturing facility in the UK, the company has operations in China, the US, India and Australia – supporting equipment in countries around the globe.
Poke said that RMI Pressure Systems’ quality and testing regime means that new equipment and components can be put through as much as two million pump cycles – over periods of up to 160 hours – to prove their integrity.
“In robust and continuous applications such as longwall coal mining, our customers rely on our high pressure reciprocating pumps to deliver optimal uptime and safety,” she said. “Similarly, our steel industry customers look for quality and reliability in de-scaling and forging applications.”
In these demanding and often hazardous environments, pump pressures can reach 350 to 400 bar – making any leaks or defects potentially disastrous. She highlighted that RMI Pressure Systems’ meticulous testing regime has been critical in building the company’s quality reputation for over a century.
“Before delivery, all of our equipment is put through its paces in our test cells,” she explained. “These well-resourced facilities measure and record temperatures, pressures, speeds and other indicators – generating data that is carefully reviewed and analysed by our engineering team.”
She emphasised that the test cells run alongside the company’s manufacturing processes, which are accredited in terms ISO9001 quality standards. This ensures that the extended periods of testing do not compromise RMI’s production rates. The test facility can accommodate three RMI high pressure pumps at a time.
“This means that our customers are confident that RMI equipment is ready to go when it is installed and commissioned on site,” said Poke. “There is no run-in time or bedding down to be done, so the pumps’ contribution to productivity and uptime will be immediate.”
Experts from RMI Pressure Systems are available to assist with installing and commissioning the equipment, giving customers peace of mind and ensuring optimal performance. The company’s manufacturing quality is also enhanced by its careful selection of suppliers and components; these are chosen on their excellence, and regular quality assurance processes are applied. Cycle testing of components is also conducted to ensure a quality finished product.
“Our inspection team tests new components extensively against the conformance criteria before giving it the thumbs up,” she said. “Staying up to date with technology allows us to improve designs, software and materials of construction wherever possible; each improvement, though, needs to be thoroughly tested before we introduce it to the market.”
RMI Pressure Systems’ meticulous testing regime has been critical in building the company’s quality reputation
Dedicated test cells in RMI Pressure System’s production facility ensures final product quality
With the viability of steel industry seriously impacted by high energy costs, RMI Pressure Systems will be showcasing its energy-efficient high-pressure reciprocating pump solutions at the Association for Iron and Steel Technology (AISTech) conference in May.
The steel industry’s largest annual trade show and exposition, AISTech 2023, will be held in Detroit, Michigan from 8-11 May. Among the key issues on delegates’ minds will be the dramatic increases in energy costs, as well as inflation and rising capital costs, according to Sean Heary, RMI Pressure Systems’ Global Sales Manager.
“Other challenges facing the industry include the disrupted supply chain resulting from Covid-19 economic lockdowns, followed by the Russia-Ukraine war,” said Heary. “The sector is looking for lower capital and operating costs, which is what RMI Pressure Systems can deliver through our years of experience with best-in-class plunger pumps.”
At its exhibition booth (1177) at AISTech, the company will be sharing insights with visitors on its hydraulic power packs and systems for heavy industry – for applications including descaling, forging and extrusion. It will also be promoting its solutions for high-pressure flow applications such as cleaning, cooling and dust suppression.
“Our pumps feature a quality and robust design that facilitates extended operating life, optimal uptime, productivity and low total cost of ownership,” he said. “RMI reciprocating pumps deliver 95% energy efficiency; variable speed technology reduces pressure when it is not required, so there is less wear and tear on system components – for longer life.”
The two models in the RMI Pressure Systems’ S Series range – the TRIMAX three-plunger pumps and the QUINMAX five-plunger pumps – have proven volumetric efficiencies up to 98%. Their fluid end components are designed with computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to maximise efficiency.
RMI Pressure Systems business development manager John Brown highlighted the importance of partner-based solutions that result in lower operating costs.
“By listening to the customer voice, we are able to design and deliver solutions that suit specific requirements,” said Brown. “Our strong engineering and manufacturing capability – built from over a century in this business – has allowed us to us to develop and improve our product offerings.”
With its global installed base, RMI Pressure Systems has local service infrastructure in key markets to support customers, he said. The company’s manufacturing hub in Manchester, England, includes an in-house research and development capability to drive continuous innovation of its products and solutions. It has operations in the UK, Europe, US, China, India and Australia.
Joining RMI Pressure Systems last year as Global Sales Manager, Mining and Industrial, Sean Heary is supporting the expansion of the company’s sales opportunities across the globally with special responsibility for Europe, Middle East and Africa.. He has spent many years in the natural resources and mining services industries, and has extensive international experience in business development, sales and services. He has held senior roles in leading multinational companies in the mining sector, and holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Western Australia. Born and raised in Perth, he speaks English and some Russian, and is currently based in Germany.
Responses to questions from International Metalworking News Asia
From Sabrina Zhang, Director for Aftermarket Sales, Services and RMI Operations in China
1) What are the global trends in the high-pressure pumps industry?
Users of high pressure pumps are increasingly focused on energy efficiency and sustainability. We have seen this trend clearly in China. Just a decade ago, for instance, our patented ODIN® (On Demand Intelligence) control logic system was a significant innovation in the local market – using variable speed control to optimise performance and save energy. Today, it is common to see longwall mining tenders specifying the inclusion of variable speed drives in a system. Customers really pay attention to efficiency, as this can deliver considerable financial savings.
We have also seen rapid developments in the technology and design of high pressure pumps, including the material used. This has led to more robust products and user-friendly control systems.
Predictive maintenance has also been an important focus in China, combined with remote monitoring of high pressure pumps systems. This has a special relevance for underground mining, as it allows personnel to perform more of their work from surface – enhancing both safety and productivity as personnel do not need to travel to the coalface as often, and can spend less time in potentially hazardous zones. In addition to monitoring, the operator can even control aspects of the pumps remotely.
2) Have you noticed any changes in the expectations and requirements of your customers in China (APAC) since the Covid-19 pandemic?
Most readers will be familiar with the very strict lockdowns in China over the three years of the Covid-19 pandemic; during this time, coal mines still needed to meet certain production targets so that the country had electrical power. Our customers therefore needed reliable and uninterrupted access to spare parts and service. The severe disruptions to the global supply chain meant that we had to keep more inventory – both at our factory in Shanghai and at our warehouses close to our customers.
We also ramped up our localisation strategy to deal with the logistical uncertainties of importing goods; this led to more local sourcing, so that we could shorten our lead times to customers. With the travel restrictions, we also located service engineers closer to the mine sites so that they could visit customers regularly and maintain a high level of technical service.
One of the main outcomes of the Covid-19 pandemic was that equipment manufacturers and suppliers had to find innovative ways to improve the resilience of their supply chains. Among the ways we achieved this as RMI Pressure Systems was by upgrading our Shanghai production facilities and diversifying our sourcing strategy.
3) How do you view the adoption of high-pressure systems in the Asia Pacific region?
High pressure reciprocating pumps are employed in many industry sectors from mining and steelmaking to oil and gas – with various applications requiring their own performance specifications or even materials of construction. There is a competitive market in the supply of these high pressure systems, although there is a wide variety in the quality of offerings and their reliability. As an early entrant to the market in China, RMI Pressure Systems have been differentiated through our robust design and our manufacturing expertise. These factors give customers high uptime levels and longer equipment life – for a lower total cost of ownership.
4) What is your role in driving growth for your products and solutions in China?
There are three main areas of focus in my role within RMI China, starting with aftermarket sales – which I have already managed for the past five years. This is a critical area of our responsibility to existing customers, keeping their RMI pumps well maintained and productive. In this way, we have built a loyal customer base that trusts our systems and support.
The second key aspect of driving RMI’s growth in China has been the process of earning certification from the MA Centre, which we achieved in April this year. The MA Centre is the Chinese agency responsible for approving and certifying the safety of mining products before they can be used underground. This opens up the market substantially for us, as we now qualify to participate in many more tenders where our products match the technical tender requirements. Up to this year, we have only been permitted to submit proposals for about three tenders each year; this number now increases potentially to hundreds of opportunities. Of course, our success will rely on our ability to be cost-competitive among many local suppliers. Our localisation strategy is aimed at doing this, while maintaining the high quality for which our pump solutions are known.
Thirdly, we are continuing to develop our marketing channels in China for new system sales, adding to the partnerships we have with local agents, representatives and distributors.
5) Which business segments make you feel confident about the opportunities ahead for the company in the next year; and are you noticing demand emerging from any new industry or segment?
With our recent MA certification, there are exciting opportunities to grow our presence in the longwall coal mining segment of the market – where we have been established for over 30 years. We expect to increase our new system sales, as we are now able to participate in many more tenders in this segment – and can build on our strong reputation in this industry.
In addition to powering longwall equipment underground, our high pressure reciprocating pump systems also play a role in dust suppression and cleaning in coal mines. These applications point to a range of other industries that could be potential markets for these systems, such as water and wastewater treatment.
6) What do you think are the key manufacturing priorities in APAC for 2023 and how can your technology give the industry a positive outlook for the future.
Our key manufacturing priorities at the moment are to continue building resilience in our supply chain, while at the same time progress our localisation strategy. These two imperatives are allowing us to diversify our sourcing, to improve pricing and lead times – which in turn will assist us in our efforts to improve cost-competitiveness.
Another important element of our manufacturing strategy is to incorporate more intelligent technology in our system solutions to customers. Beyond our expertise in pump design and manufacture, we are also responding to customers’ needs for automation and intelligent mining strategies. This means gathering and analysing data on pumps’ operating functions, to predict what maintenance is required – thereby avoiding unscheduled downtime. Operators can run our pumps from a centralised operating room, improving safety and efficiency.
Our intelligent emulsion mixer unit, for instance, can measure the concentration of the oil-water mix and keep the concentration within the required parameters. We also use our patented control logic system ODIN® (On Demand Intelligence) to proactively collect the combined face pressure signal and powered roof support initiation of the longwall mining systems – to enhance their performance. This kind of technology is an essential part of building economies that are safe, productive and sustainable.
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