At Triplex, our sales engineers are in food, beverage, and personal care plants day in and day out. One of the longest tenured pieces of equipment we see in plants is without a doubt high pressure homogenizers. It’s not uncommon to find APV Gaulin machines in service that are 40+ years old. Most of the time, this isn’t by accident. While the machines are robust, the longevity can often be attributed to proper preventative maintenance and care. So what should you be doing to maintain your high-pressure homogenizer? Read on to find out.
The First 24 Hours
If you’ve just installed your homogenizer, the first run to 24 hours can be critical to setting the tone on how your machine will perform over the long haul. That’s why after the first 24 hours of run time, we recommend users check all wiring connections and ensure all terminals are tight and nothing has come loose (trying to find a loose wire down the road can be an absolute nightmare). Next, we’ll want to check the tightness of the V-belts. We want to ensure they’re tight, with no more than 15 mm of movement for every meter of belt length.
Once we check these two items, we’re almost ready to crank things up and see what the homogenizer can do for your process.
After the First 50 Hours of Operations
We have one more round of checks we recommend after the first 50 hours of operation that we recommend. After 50 hours, we recommend that you change the machine oil and replace the filter insert. As the oil initially circulates, we can see some dirt and grime get pulled in that can create issues down the road if not addressed. So after the first 50 hours, plan on dumping the oil, swapping your lube oil filter, and refilling.
Every 250 Hours
After 250 hours, we start getting into our groove of more regular, routine maintenance. About once a month or every 250 hours of run time, we recommend inspecting the homogenizing valve for wear, checking the oil for water ingress, and replacing the plunger packings.
It’s important to check the homogenizing valve for wear as this will have a direct impact on product quality. If the valve is worn, we’ll start to notice that product emulsions aren’t as stable and texture may not be where we need it to be. We’ll also start to notice difficulty achieving homogenization pressure. So a good habit to have is to take a look at the homogenizing valves monthly.
Next, we want to pull some oil samples and see if any water has accumulated in the gearbox. We usually see water ingress when plunger cooling water flows are too high and customers are running abrasive products that can cause premature wear to the wiper box. The wiper box is all the stands between the plunger cooling fluid and the lubricating oil, so if we start to have wear, sooner or later we’ll end up with water in the gearcase, which is a big deal. The best way to stay ahead of a major headache is to inspect the oil monthly.
Our last piece of recommended monthly maintenance is changing the plunger packings on the homogenizing block. If the packings fail, we’ll start to see product leak or push out of the back of the homogenizing block. This can cerate major issues, especially with hard to handle products like glue. We actually saw a customer one time who had some much product leak past the packings that it actually plugged the flush lines on the homogenizing block. This caused the plungers to wear prematurely, caused premature wear to the wiper box, and ultimately created a much more costly repair than if we’d have just serviced the packing preventatively.
Every 500-1,000 Hours
While there a number of factors that determine how frequently something should be done, about ever 500-1,000 hours- or twice a year- we recommend changing the hydraulic oil filter (if your system has a hydraulic power pack) and disassembling the pump end of the machine.
When we dismantle the machine, not only will we want to replace the hydraulic oil filter, we’ll also want to do a complete disassembly of the pump homogenizing block. Things we want to look for specifically, in addition to plunger and packing wear, are the pump suction and discharge valves, inspecting those clossely. We recommend replacing not only the packings, but also the suction and discharge springs at this time.
Every 2,000 Hours or Annually
About once a year, we recommend doing a full-blown tear down and PM on your high-pressure pump. High pressure homogenizers are usually critical pieces in any process line and in order to minimize prolonged downtime, it’s important that we proactively maintain the machines.
So about once a year with core homogenizer customers, we’ll perform an annual maintenance that takes the machine out of service for a day. During this maintenance, we start by draining the machine lubricating oil, cleaning, the oil sump, changing the oil filter, and refilling with oil. We’ll also rebuild the plunger wiper box by changing out all soft parts. We also recommend replacing the plunger packings and taking a good hard look at the plungers, valve balls, seats, and springs and consider replacing those, especially if pumping abrasive products.
We’ll also inspect the homogenizing valve parts- specifically for the seats- and often times recommend replacing those.
Finally, we’ll inspect and service the pressure relief valve, replacing springs and seats.
Every 3,000 Hours/Biennially
In addition to the above, about once every 3,000 operating hours or every other year, we’ll recommend customers using a hydraulic power pack replace the hydraulic fluid in addition to the previously recommended maintenance.
As with any piece of rotating equipment, preventative maintenance is key. By following the above steps, you can help ensure you’re APV high pressure homogenizer performs over the long haul. Have more questions or looking to schedule PM on your homogenizer? Contact a Triplex Sales Engineer today!