Metso Insights Blog Mining and metals blog Igniting operational continuity: harnessing the power of pyro inspections
Sep 26, 2023

Igniting operational continuity: harnessing the power of pyro inspections

Alex Merklein
Alex Merklein
Product Manager, Pyro Labour and Repair Offerings
Pyro equipment plays a critical role in various industrial processes, such as steel production, cement manufacturing and chemical conversion. However, when a problem is identified on a high-temperature device that cannot be immediately shut down, plant managers face the challenge of ensuring operational continuity while minimizing risks. In such cases, adopting a strategic approach becomes imperative. Here, we present a three-step approach commonly employed by our technicians to address these situations effectively and minimize production losses. It is important that the approach taken covers not only short-term fixes but also gets to the heart of what is actually causing the problem to occur.

Challenge: A sinter machine showing signs of age

We recently had a customer in India we offered to inspect their 1993 Metso sinter machine, upgraded 10 years ago, after they reached out for regular spare parts from us. On carrying out the inspection, we identified a few additional problems with the equipment, then leveraged this three-step concept to come up with a successful repair strategy. The primary concern was the formation of irregular wear on the sprockets which disrupted the smooth movement of the sinter cars along the track system. This had resulted in continuing damage to the slide seals which leads to air leakage, leading poor product quality and production loss.

Immediate actions: Visual and vitals inspection + quick fixes

Due to the nature of pyro equipment, an immediate shutdown is likely not possible. Typically, the first step is to perform an inspection and make minor adjustments, realignments or quick fixes to address immediate concerns. In this particular case, the service engineer visually inspected the drive, the tipping stations and both the carrying and return machine strands. In addition, we recommend implementing maintenance practices that prioritize safety and minimize risks. A comprehensive maintenance program should be established, encompassing routine cleaning, lubrication, adjustment of mechanical components and calibration of temperature and pressure sensors. By adhering to these practices, other potential issues can be mitigated, and the operational continuity of the equipment can be ensured until a long-term solution is implemented. Therefore, training sessions were organized on-site for the customer’s maintenance crew.

Short-term actions: Mechanical verification and part change-out

The objective of short-term actions is to bridge the gap until a long-term solution can be implemented. These actions focus on addressing the concerns identified during the inspection that can be implemented with minimal service interruption. In cases where damaged areas of the equipment are identified, prompt replacement of these components can provide immediate relief and ensure the continued operation of the pyro equipment. Regarding the case of our customer in India, the inspection revealed the occurrence of sawtooth shapes that could be attributed to the deterioration of the sprocket teeth and curved rails. Several parts required a change-out to avoid further damage: drive station and tipping station curved rail and sprockets, return and carrying strand rails, sagged cars and slide bars.

It is worth noting that while most short-term solutions serve as temporary measures to maintain operations until a permanent solution is implemented, there are instances where these fixes can effectively address the issue at hand.

By investing in long-term actions, plant managers can minimize future risks, extend the lifespan of their pyro equipment and optimize overall operational performance.
Alex Merklein, Product Manager, Pyro Labour and Repair Offerings at Metso

Long-term actions: Root cause analysis

This step involves conducting a comprehensive root cause analysis to identify the factors contributing to the issue. Plant managers should collaborate with technicians and equipment specialists to devise a long-term plan, tailored to the specific needs of the pyro equipment. Long-term actions may include implementing design modifications, upgrading components, enhancing safety features, optimizing processes or planning for a scheduled shutdown to carry out necessary repairs or replacements. By investing in long-term actions, plant managers can minimize future risks, extend the lifespan of their pyro equipment and optimize overall operational performance. Additional grate bar and green ball cleaning devices were installed on our customer’s sinter machine to further mitigate long-term excessive wear.

This approach, as followed by Metso technicians, allows for effective maintenance, sustained productivity, and enhanced safety, ultimately contributing to the smooth functioning of industrial processes reliant on pyro equipment.