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Hi-Tech Coatings chooses high-performance AODD pumps

27 August 2013

This year, Hi-Tech Coatings, a leading developer and manufacturer of water-based and UV-curable coatings, moved into a new production plant in Aylesbury.

However, the company did not dispense with the proven production technologies used at the previous plant and which had contributed to its quality manufacturing processes.

Having reaped the benefits of Wilden AODD (Air Operated Double Diaphragm) pumps for two years at the former plant, the new facility has been equipped with brand new Wilden pumps for transferring raw ingredients from intake, through processing and on to finished product filling and packaging.

The liquids used in the manufacture of Hi-Tech Coatings’ products are described as ‘very searching’ when it comes to their impact on the pumps used throughout the processing stages. Over several years, the brand of AODD pumps which the company employed suffered from leakage through the seals and clamp bands, plus there were problems with diaphragm life times. 

This was far from being a satisfactory state of affairs in a production plant where health and safety is high on the agenda, and product wastage only added to production costs. In 2010 Hi-Tech Coatings instigated an engineering research project to examine alternative makes of AODD pumps. It was this research that highlighted AxFlow’s Wilden AODD pumps as the best quality product available. 

 “The previous pumps were simply not lasting and the cost of repair was working out about the same as completely new pumps,” reports Martin Skillen, Director, Hi-Tech Coatings. “In effect, the pumps were becoming an expensive consumable.

"We tried to explain this to our pump supplier at that time, but they could not get past the mindset that they thought we wanted the cheapest pump available when in fact what we wanted was lifetime and longevity.”

Rather than remove all the existing troublesome pumps in one go Hi-Tech Coatings started with a Wilden 1.5-inch aluminium clamp band pump with Wilflex wetted parts for the distribution lines. Having proved its effectiveness further similar Wilden pumps were installed on the packing and filling lines and on the chemical distribution system.

“For us the attraction of the Wilden pump is the simplicity of maintenance and the safety aspect”, says Martin Skillen. “We do not need to be too skilled to perform routine maintenance and the pumps are very easy for the operators to remove. Importantly, there is no requirement for an electrician, which always introduces another layer of complexity and cost.”

Positive displacement AODD pump technology has over half a century grown to become the leading choice for liquid handling and transfer in a wide variety of industries, including paints and coatings. Wilden AODD pumps are able to satisfy the demands of the industry because their design allows the product flow to remain constant with the speed of the pump, which is a major consideration.

Other benefits of this pump technology include its ability to be used in a wide range of pressure and flow specifications, self-priming and low-shear operation; ability to handle corrosive and abrasive solutions; improved energy efficiency; and overall low maintenance costs.

The true capabilities of the AODD pump are reflected in the fact that it can be used at every stage of the production cycle, from off-loading raw ingredients from tankers to transporting semi-processed and processed product around the plant to the final stage of the filling line.

The Wilden AODD pumps offer the ability to handle shear-sensitive fluids, keep thick and viscous fluids constantly in motion and provide leak-free operation. In addition, this pump can accommodate dead-heading during filling applications, a task that motor driven pumps are not able to handle effectively.

The uncomplicated design of the Wilden AODD pump features few moving parts, and those that do move have simple and specific tasks.

- Air chamber - houses the air that powers the diaphragms.
- Air distribution system – the heart of the pump, it is the mechanism that shifts the pump to create suction and discharge strokes.
- Outer diaphragm piston – connects the diaphragms to the reciprocating common shaft and seals the liquid side from the air side of the diaphragm.
- Inner diaphragm piston – located on the air side of the pump, this does not come in to contact with the process fluid.
- Valve ball – seals and releases on the check-valve seats, allowing for discharge and suction of the process fluids to occur.
- Valve seat – provides the ball valves with a place to check and create a suction lift.
- Discharge manifold – allows fluid to exit the pump through the discharge port, which is typically located at the top of the pump.
- Liquid chamber – separated from the compressed air by the diaphragms, it fills with process fluid during the suction stroke and is emptied during the discharge stroke.
- Diaphragm – acts as a separation membrane between the process fluid and the compressed air that is the driving force of the pump. To give the performance required, diaphragms should be of sufficient thickness and of an appropriate material to prevent degradation or permeation in specific process fluid applications.
- Inlet manifold – allows fluid to enter the pump through the intake port located at the bottom of the pump.

Since first being installed none of the Wilden pumps at the former Hi-Tech Coatings plant has required anything other than routine maintenance and the pumps have lived up to their promise, giving leak-free operation.

The company is very satisfied as the pumps are run every day. Manufacturing is very much a formulating operation which blends various chemicals that create the water-based and UV-cured products. The products are manufactured on a batch basis so the pumps are operating for between two and three hours a day.

The pumps provide high levels of accuracy and full controllability of the volume of ingredients going into the mixing operation.

The new facility will enable Hi-Tech to Coatings to increase the production capacity of its water-based products upwards of 75%. More chemical distribution lines will speed up the transfer of chemicals to the mixing tanks and there will be additional filling lines and storage capacity. 

Martin Skillen reports that storage capacity is now up 300% on the old site which gives further scope for growth and expansion. To help Hi-Tech Coatings achieve these targets, AxFlow has supplied five 2-inch Wilden aluminium clamp band pumps with Wilflex wetted parts and a similar number of pulsation dampeners to maintain low noise levels in the processing areas. 

“We have standardised on a 2-inch pump for the chemical distribution lines and 1.5 -inch pumps for racking and filling,” continues Martin Skillen. “We built a factory in Detroit USA in 2011 and this came on stream in January 2012, and we standardised on the Wilden pumps for this production plant.”

“We have found the Wilden pump to be reliable and economical to run, which is why we have specified it for the new facility," reports Martin Skillen.

“The new plant gives us a more automated approach and additional capacity for the future and we see the Wilden pumps as being a reliable part of our manufacturing capability," he adds. "Having a local AxFlow resource that is interested in our business and which has been on hand to assist in pump selection and installation has been an added benefit.”

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