If your business involves operations in potentially explosive atmospheres, you will know that all equipment used in such environments must comply with strict requirements such as the European ATEX directive; if it does not, you risk having to close down your production. On the other hand, complying with the ATEX directive can be a costly and cumbersome affair, especially if you do not have a complete and detailed overview of your production equipment. With Grundfos service offerings, however, you can get such an overview, and Grundfos can provide maintenance services that keep your equipment ATEX certified while saving you money – as a major customer, a paper mill in Austria, found out.
The customer is one of the world's leading manufacturers of tipping paper for the tobacco industry. Headquartered in Austria, the company owns 9 production facilities worldwide staffed by approx. 1,300 people and exports to more than 90 countries all over the world.
In September 2013, the customer approached Grundfos looking to replace a number of Grundfos CR multistage in-line pumps placed in ATEX II zones (areas in which an explosive mixture is not likely to occur in normal operation; the Grundfos CR can be specified with ATEX certification). When negotiating the terms of this purchase, Grundfos Austria notified the customer of the possibility to perform maintenance on all existing pumps at the facility, and investigations of this option were initiated.
As all pumps were located in ATEX II zones, standard maintenance would not be possible. In addition, the customer requested an ATEX continuation certificate for all Grundfos pumps; this is needed for achieving certification for the whole installation in accordance with the Austrian VEXAT legislation. Due to significant employee turnover, the customer was not able to itemise all installed pumps but was only able to provide the number of pumps installed in ATEX II zones at the facility (35 small Grundfos CRN units and 2 large Grundfos CRN units). These factors necessitated a customised solution that fit the customer's requirements, and Grundfos Austria went to work developing such a solution: a customised maintenance contract.
The Grundfos solution
The maintenance contract includes elements from Grundfos' Installed Base Assessment, Workshop Repair and Service Contract offerings, providing the customer with the perfect customised solution. Grundfos Austria performed a first inspection to get more details about the pumps at the facility. Data recorded included pump type, kW rating, liquid pumped, control method, overall condition and motor operating hours.
Having established the number, types and condition of the pumps, the inspection is now to be performed on a yearly basis to ensure continued ATEX certification. For all motors where the number of operating hours cannot be ascertained, the customer has the option to either replace the motor or assume all risk for the pump in question by signing a form. Pumps that fail the inspection are sent to the Grundfos workshop for repairs, as Grundfos cannot repair pumps in ATEX zones. After inspection of the pump at the Grundfos workshop, the customer gets an individual offer for repair. When the customer accepts the offer, the pump is repaired and consequently will get the ATEX continuation certificate.
The first inspection was performed in January 2014, and the customer is very satisfied with this customised service solution. "The customer saves a lot of money, knows which pumps are installed, and knows that he is up to date with the ATEX certificate", says Veronika Strobl of Grundfos Austria. The cost of achieving continued ATEX certification through scheduled inspection and maintenance is dramatically lower than if the customer had to replace every single pump after a given number of operating hours – which would be the only viable alternative. For the Austrian paper mill, in short, this combination of installed base overview, guaranteed directive compliance and financial savings fulfils their needs to the letter.