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Transplant revitalises ink manufacturer

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article image Michael Wilcockson with the polymer piping in Sicpa's Rydalmere plant.

PRUDENT manufacturers and process engineers ensure their cooling water systems don't become blocked with sediment - or dump waste into the heart of sensitive and expensive machinery.

If enough waste builds up to restrict water flow, overheating can cause serious damage. And if sediment breaks off to flow into filters, water jackets and cooling towers, vital equipment can break down entirely.

Ink producer Sicpa Australia has shown how to avoid such potential problems by transplanting corrosion-free CalAir polymer piping into its water cooling system for the mills used to blend carbon, oils and varnishes for its products.

"During ongoing preventative maintenance on the mills, we found some sections of the old gal pipes feeding our cooling towers were 80 per cent blocked or worse," Sicpa’s Rydalmere production manager Michael Wilcockson said.

"We got to the point where we were forever fixing the gal pipes, taping them up when they sprang leaks. If we had pumped acid through them to clear them, they would have fallen apart.”

Sicpa's solution to its problem was similar to those employed by surgeons repairing damage to human circulatory problems - transplants of clean, flexible, durable and temperature-tolerant vessels to carry the vital fluid.

“In Sicpa's case, the mills' peak operating temperature is about 120°C and the pipes need to carry water generally at about 40 or 50°C, at a rate of about 2500 litres an hour. Working with CalAir, we specified 50mm polymer piping designed by them to be both flexible and temperature tolerant," Mr Wilcockson said.

"It's tough and doesn't leak. It stands up very well to our fairly heavy industrial environment where there are quite a few chemicals present.

"Whereas the old piping wasn't even salvageable, we could pick up the whole new piping system and transplant it to a totally new location if we ever needed to. We are very happy with it."

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