Equipment Monitoring Prevents Expensive Unscheduled Outages

The Timken Company (NYSE: TKR) said its StatusCheck wireless monitoring system is helping to keep critical equipment running at one of America's most environmentally progressive paper mill operators.

Located along the Pacific coast of Washington state, Grays Harbor Paper LP (GHP) produces uncoated free-sheet paper for printing and copying applications. Products include 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper made with recovered energy called "Harbor 100."

Through Harbor 100, GHP generates much of its own electricity by burning waste-wood from its logging inventory and other sources in steam boilers that run its own turbine generators.

GHP installed the Timken's StatusCheck system in October 2008 to monitor three boiler feedwater pumps and associated motors that operate the turbines. The wireless system checks operating conditions of critical components such as bearings and then issues alerts via email or text messages when it detects excessive temperatures or vibration levels.

"We decided to monitor the feedwater pumps because they are extremely expensive, given their complex, multi-stage design, high output pressure, lower tolerances and historically high maintenance costs," said Bob Brennand, GHP mill manager. "If a pump fails and shuts down a boiler, the cost to the mill is about $6,000 an hour." Because backup pumps are difficult to come by and complex, Brennand notes that an unplanned outage could take the unit offline for as long as four to six weeks.

It wasn't long before Timken's StatusCheck system proved its value at GHP. Within four months of operation, the system notified GHP's maintenance team of an imminent failure from a motor bearing that was wearing away. "We were able to schedule pre-emptive replacement, where in the past, the bearing would likely have failed, leading to a bigger problem with a higher repair cost and more downtime," said Brennand.

Early savings have GHP planning to install additional StatusCheck devices to monitor other critical locations in the mill, including additional pumps, fans and equipment for which a limited number of spares is available.

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