Have you ever considered that pumps are the focal point of all the liquid environmental issues in your mill? It is safe to say that every liquid passing through your pumps is highly regulated, either by your country's environmental authority or its employee protection authority. In the United States, all liquids are covered by both.
Every liquid in your mill is pumped at one time or another, except for perhaps ground water. And it is only a remote possibility that groundwater is not pumped by your facility at some point before it is released to nature.
So, one way to think about your environmental responsibilities and liabilities is to look at the sources and discharges of all your pumps. This brings you to a startling new focus when it comes to environmental stewardship. Taken to its simplest form, eliminating pumps may eliminate potential environmental liabilities.
Of course, on one hand, this is ridiculous, for you are not going to eliminate many fluids in a pulp and paper mill. However, it just may be an attitude of eliminating pumps is one that takes you to a new and different way of thinking about what fluids and in what quantities you really need them. So, the exercise may go from completely ridiculous to a mild improvement. The pump suppliers that were happy with the first two columns in this series will certainly be unhappy with this statement: pumps are a necessary evil.
Certainly, a way of monitoring what passes through all your pumps volumetrically can lead to a great deal of information about fluid consumptions and discharges in your mill and perhaps become a method to analyze efficiency. It follows logically for instance, that the receipt of all liquids from all vendors plus all water supplies (well, river, rain) minus all effluent discharges, moisture content in paper, and evaporation should equal zero. If it does not, there are leaks in the system (likely into the ground). Likewise, if the total pumping capacity on site is greater than this previous balance, we know we are chasing some fluids around and around (of course we do this with fan pumps and bowser systems, but where else?) which can lead to an understanding of inefficiencies to be eliminated.
It is beautiful if you think about it--this kind of analysis assesses your liquid environmental liabilities and your pumping efficiency. This can lead to considerable improvements in cost savings and liability reductions throughout your mill. And any summer student can collect and analyze the data for you.
I have often wondered why environmental agencies do not focus on pumps, for pumps are, again, the focal points of fluids. Thoroughly understand all the pumps in a mill and you understand all the fluids and environmental responsibilities.
We are asking about your mill's use of pump audits to eliminate environmental liabilities in this week's survey. You can take it here.
For safety this week, have you recently inspected pump shaft guards? Is this a regularly checked item in your mill? A slip on a slick surface, not unusual around pumps, could cause an out of balance person to involuntarily grab a rotating pump shaft, turning a bad fall into an unmitigated disaster.
Be safe and we will talk next week.
Want to see the column earlier on Thursday? Follow me on twitter here. They are usually posted around noon US Eastern Time.