Pumps to aid steel’s sustainability journey

Pumps to aid steel’s sustainability journey

With the sustainability message coming through strongly once again at the recent METEC International Metallurgical Trade Fair in Düsseldorf, Germany, the steel sector continues to display confidence and pride in its key role as a driver of sustainable economic growth.

Sean Heary – Global Sales Manager, Mining and Industrial

RMI Pressure Systems’ Sean Heary was at the event, and highlighted the progress being made in developing and applying technologies that reduce the consumption of finite resources and the emission of greenhouse gases. As RMI’s, Global Sales Manager, Mining and Industrial, Heary said METEC is a valuable opportunity to meet likeminded customers and suppliers, and to contribute towards the metallurgical industry’s strategic sustainability goals.

“RMI’s century of experience in designing and manufacturing high pressure reciprocating pumps has allowed our customers to reduce their carbon footprints,” he explained. “Reciprocating pumps are energy-efficient and water-efficient at high pressures, and there are also smart components and controls that can be added to further economise on energy consumption.”

With touchpoints in the steel sector such as the descaling processes of hot rolling mills and the pressurised lubrication of hydrostatic bearings in roughing mill stands, RMI has a global spread of installations supported by local service infrastructure in key markets. 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. RMI has operations in the UK, Europe, US, China, India and Australia.

“Generating pressures as high as 350-400 bar, RMI pumps play a vital role in hydromechanical descaling, ensuring that our customers achieve the best possible prices for their steel products,” he said. “Our technology allows this kind of work to be done as efficiently as possible – conserving the use of both energy and water – while delivering optimal performance, reliability and life-span.”

Other contributions that RMI pumps are making on the environmental front include their use in the high pressure washing of air preheat heat exchangers and flue gas desulphurisation units at thermal power stations. The latter, in particular, is used to scale acid rain causing sulphur from flue gas before it is discharged into the atmosphere. RMI’s bespoke design high pressure wash units allow for the safe and efficient cleaning of these critical pieces of equipment, to allow power plants to remain highly productive and within regulation.

Platforms like the METEC exhibition provide the opportunity to engage personally with existing and prospective customers, said Heary, building relationships and sharing information about the latest technology developments. He noted that METEC was also a useful forum to meet new suppliers, which was important in growing a robust and cost-effective supply chain, especially as RMI looks to engage more local supply partners in its business.

Modern local facility enhances RMI upgrade and spares service in China

Modern local facility enhances RMI upgrade and spares service in China

With its modern workshop and assembly facilities in Shanghai, RMI Pressure Systems ensures customers in China of OEM-standard upgrades, commonly referred to as overhauls in the Chinese market – with an extensive stockholding of genuine spare parts to allow quick turnaround times.

Sabrina Zhang, Director for Aftermarket Sales, Services and RMI Operations in China, said that the company’s MA-certified facility was a vital part of RMI’s localisation strategy. The facility can conduct full strip-down and rebuild services, with upgraded spares and components adding wherever possible to the performance and lifespan of RMI high pressure reciprocal pumps.

She emphasised that RMI is continuously improving its components, so that customer’s pump systems can be fitted with the latest technology and material during routine maintenance. This turns a regular overhaul into an actual upgrade – contributing to product quality and longevity.

Continuous component improvements by RMI lead to routine maintenance becoming a genuine upgrade for enhanced product quality and longevity


RMI’s Shanghai facility excels in full strip-down and rebuild services, enhancing performance and lifespan of high-pressure pumps

“With our legacy of over 30 years of supplying and supporting our pump stations in China’s underground mines, our brand has a strong reputation locally,” she explained. “Our Shanghai facility further enhances our upgrade and spares offering, ensuring uptime and productivity.”

The history of RMI goes back over a century, giving the company a unique depth of expertise in pump technology. This has allowed the company to develop innovative maintenance schedules to improve performance and reliability. Over a typical six-year cycle, RMI recommends three different grades of overhauls or upgrades: A, B and C.

“Grade A is the intervention that we recommend at the end of the first and second years, which usually aligns with the annual completion of a longwall panel,” she said. “This involves the replacement of various wet end parts, and this can be done underground, without needing to move the pump system to surface.”

Spare part kits

The consumable components that need replacing at this stage include lubrication oils, filter elements, seals, O-rings and packing. Valve chest springs, ceramic rams and unloading valve cartridges are also among the parts replaced. RMI streamlines the maintenance process by making all relevant spare parts available in dedicated kits – each designed to contain everything necessary for the specific grade of overhaul.

At the end of the third year, a Grade B upgrade is recommended, which comprises a full rebuild. This can be conducted in-house by those customers who have their own maintenance facilities and skills; alternatively, RMI undertakes this upgrade at its own workshop. RMI pump stations are delivered with training materials and detailed product manuals for owners who can conduct rebuilds in-house. Additional components replaced at this stage include con rods, ram holders and the oil pump.

“This first rebuild allows our pump systems to operate consistently at peak performance, and we then recommend annual Grade A upgrades again for the following two years,” said Zhang. “This takes the system into its sixth year, at the end of which we recommend a Grade C upgrade – also an intensive rebuild.”

Service exchange

Similar to Grade B, the Grade C intervention also includes additional aspects such as replacing the pump module and the oil cooler assembly. She highlighted that RMI can provide customers with a service exchange offering – which is particularly valuable for those customers who do not have their own replacement units. To ensure minimal downtime, RMI designs and manufactures an identical pump for the customer, ready for installation when their existing unit is removed for a rebuild.

“This saves time, and allows operations to continue without undue disruption,” she said. She noted that customers are aware of the importance of regular maintenance interventions, and are open to the advice provided by RMI’s experienced technical service engineers – who visit customer sites to track machine condition and performance.

“Our service engineers produce a detailed report after each visit, including feedback on any aspects that may need attention in the near future,” she said.

Maintenance agreements

To make full use of RMI’s support in China, some mines have signed long-term overhaul agreements for a three-year period, she noted. The arrangement means that RMI collects a customer’s pumping system from the mine and transports it to the Shanghai workshop for a full strip-down and rebuild. The customer is involved in the process, to consider the results of a technical inspection and choose between an overhaul or replacement. RMI then conducts the Grade A servicing on site after each longwall panel is completed.

“This ensures the customer of high levels of reliability and uptime for better productivity, while also controlling their capital and maintenance costs in advance,” said Zhang.

The local availability of RMI’s genuine spare parts has been considerably enhanced by the Shanghai facility, she pointed out. Quick access to components has been a cornerstone of RMI’s strategy in China, and urgent parts can now be delivered to customers within three to four days. The company’s technical service centres, located close to main mining areas, allow technical service engineers to reach customers within two hours. There are also key consumables stored at the service centres for immediate access.

RMI’s intensive testing supports high-pressure pump safety, quality globally

RMI’s intensive testing supports high-pressure pump safety, quality globally

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.

Dedicated test cells in RMI Pressure System’s production facility ensures final product quality

“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.”

Top high pressure pump design and selection tips  – RMI

Top high pressure pump design and selection tips  – RMI

High pressure pumps are often subjected to very demanding applications in mining, steel and many other industries – making their careful design and selection vital to safety, reliability and performance.

“In addition to exacting engineering standards and technical criteria, there is also the need for a stringent and often lengthy testing regime before equipment is dispatched and installed for customer use,” according to Kathryn Poke, RMI Pressure Systems’ general manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

As a global leader in high pressure reciprocating pumps, RMI Pressure Systems has a rigorous understanding of the critical functions essential to the reliability of these systems. Poke highlights some of the key ways to optimise pump design and selection.

Choose safety first

“Safety and reliability are critical factors to consider, including safety features such as a safety relief valve,” she says. “This valve protects against a ‘dead head’ situation in which the system demand for flow has stopped, causing the pressure to rise instantly.”

She says the safety valve should be designed to allow the entire pump capacity to flow, while the opening point should be set at 10% above the operating pressure. Also, the pipework associated with the safety relief valve should be properly sized to ensure adequate flow conditions.

“At RMI, we include a number of safety circuits to prevent a potential dead head condition,” she explains. “This includes a pump safety relief valve, and an unloading valve, or valve filters, which protect the pump against a potential hydraulic lock.”

Sensing and sealing

There are also oil temperature and pressure sensing circuits, as well as motor overload monitoring. These systems can indicate a potential issue with the system, allowing the pump to be stopped before any damage is caused.

“The sealing system of a pump is an equally important contributor to safety, and also enhances overall performance and reliability,” says Poke. “For high pressure reciprocating pumps like RMI manufactures, the task is typically performed by the stuffing box; this contains packing and lubricant in various configurations, depending on the application.”

As a service item, this packing should be able to be replaced without too much interference with the main pump assembly – so the pump design should accommodate this requirement.

Best use of energy

“Efficiency is also a priority for pump owners and operators, and reciprocating pumps offer important benefits in this regard as their design offers greater mechanical efficiency,” she says. “This intrinsic feature means that a smaller prime mover can be employed to drive the pump, which will mean the consumption of less energy.”

Not only will the careful selection and matching of the correct motor to the pumping system enable a more efficient combination, but it will also help achieve a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) for the customer.

“Variable speed technology effectively reduces energy consumption by allowing the pump to idle in a standby condition,” she says. “At the same time, it can still return to full service quickly and efficiently when required.”

This provides a valuable alternative to other options such as the complex by-pass, drain or accumulator systems; it allows the pump to run without generating further pressure, while also allowing system flow and pressure to be maintained as needed.

Trust in experience

“With over 100 years of experience in this field, at RMI we understand the demands of high pressure pumping applications and are proud of the reputation for reliability that we enjoy in global markets,” concludes Poke.

Getting the benefit

• Relief valves for safe operation

• Sensors to monitor for early warning signs

• Quality seals for performance and reliability

• Reciprocating pumps offer high efficiencies

• Variable speed technology cuts energy consumption

RMI’s pump solution means more efficient descaling at Italian steel mill

RMI’s pump solution means more efficient descaling at Italian steel mill

When a steel rolling mill in Italy was looking to enhance the quality of its product while improving overall efficiency, it turned to a partnership of metallurgical plant solutions company Primetals Technologies and high-pressure pump specialist RMI Pressure Systems.

The mill decided to invest in new descaling equipment – with a view to raising quality standards while lowering overall energy and water costs. According to Kathryn Poke, RMI’s general manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), the company designed a bespoke solution based on its established Trimax Series of reciprocating plunger pumps.

RMI Pressure Systems designed a bespoke solution based on its established Trimax Series of reciprocating plunger pumps

“Engineered to order like all our solutions, we designed the system to suit the project requirements,” said Poke. “With the Trimax pump at its heart, the specialised system for the mill included controls, nozzles and headers to ensure reliable and efficient operation.”

RMI was required to provide a pump which could deliver hydraulic power at multiple pressures, using a variable speed drive and engineered nozzles. The result was a system capable of producing flow rates from 50 up to 670 litres per minute, at pressures up to 1,000 bar.

RMI Pressure Systems helps steel manufacturers improve overall efficiency in steel descaling operations (Image: Primetals Technologies)

“The technical design of descaling equipment is an exact science,” she explained. “This requires precision nozzle design and high hydraulic pressures calculated to deliver the best descaling results for a variety of steel variants, at minimum cost and maximum efficiency.”

The variable speed drive and engineered nozzles ensured that the system delivered controlled hydraulic pressure and precision impact, while consuming less energy and water. The system was performance-tested, confirming its robust design and manufacture – which would underpin its reliability and uptime. The lower installation and maintenance costs resulted in a payback period of less than two years.

RMI managing director Joe Keenan highlighted the value for customers of pump manufacturers moving beyond a focus on discreet products and into the systems space.

“Customers are increasingly looking for solutions and not just products,” said Keenan. “This contract illustrates how RMI’s custom-design capability allows us to build fit-for-purpose solutions with our pumps as a central component.”

He noted that the trend is toward OEMs gaining more specialised knowledge about how pumps are applied in specific applications, so that they can augment their offerings with other componentry, accessories and technology. This allows the customer to source more of their operational equipment from a single supplier, reducing the risk and resources associated with integrating and maintaining these different elements in-house.

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 product development and manufacturing hub in Manchester, England, RMI Pressure Systems has operations in the US, China, India and Australia. It also serves markets in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Its in-house research and development capability drives the continuous innovation of its products and solutions. 

RMI shares localisation journey at China mining event

RMI shares localisation journey at China mining event

RMI Pressure Systems Shines at CCME 2023 Showcasing Shanghai Facilities and MA Certification in the Heart of China’s Dynamic Coal Mining Sector

Highlighting its new Shanghai facilities and MA certification, reciprocating pump specialist RMI Pressure Systems rubbed shoulders with industry decision-makers at the recent China Coal and Mining Expo (CCME) 2023 in Beijing.

Sabrina Zhang, Director for Aftermarket Sales, Services and RMI Operations in China

According to Sabrina Zhang, Director for Aftermarket Sales, Services and RMI Operations in China, this year’s event reflected a busy and competitive coal mining sector. Zhang said visitors to the company’s exhibition booth responded positively to this year’s approval by the MA Centre of RMI’s local manufacturing facility in Shanghai.

“The CCME delegates we spoke to were pleased to hear more about our local facilities, and looked forward to the continued roll-out of our localisation strategy,” she said. “We are confident that this will further strengthen our established reputation in China for quality and reliability – by improving our turnaround time and competitiveness.”

With the approval by the MA Centre, responsible for certifying mining product safety, RMI’s local manufacturing facility in Shanghai is now able to produce 15 different models of precision-built high-pressure pumps.

Joining the RMI team at CCME was Huw Dodds, RMI’s director for sales and service in Australia, who noted the strong interest in digitisation and automation in all aspects of underground mining. The four-day event showcased a wide range of mining fields from electromechanical and power to smart mining, instrumentation and processing. Also engaging their visitors at the RMI stand were staff members from the Beijing and Shanghai offices, as well as the company’s Inner-Mongolia-based service manager.

With its headquarters and factory in Manchester, United Kingdom, RMI exhibited with other members of the British industry association Abmec – reflecting the strong global appeal of the CCME. Dodds said that the mining sector in China is served by a strong local and international production base, which was constantly evolving to embrace the latest technologies.