Project Practitioners > Not All Projects Are Sunshine & Rainbows - Part II

Not All Projects Are Sunshine & Rainbows - Part II

By Morley Selver, P.Eng IPMA B

Continued from Part I

This was a project where we wanted to increase production of handtowel at one of our locations. The existing equipment was not sufficient and could not be modified so a new / used machine was required. We searched the used equipment market and went looking at used machines, which was an interesting exercise in itself. Eventually we found one in Wisconsin that we could use. When you are buying used you need to realize that it was probably losing money so there would have been little maintenance done on it and when it was shutdown, that was it, never to be touched again. This machine had what we needed. We took it apart, trucked it to its new location to be modified and installed. The plan was to keep the existing handtowel machine running while we installed the newer one beside it. Some of the surprises and problems we had follow.

The Dryer Cylinders

Figure-1The first problem we had to deal with was the six dryers. Figure 1 shows what a dryer cylinder looks like. These are pressure vessels and in order to use them they had to be certified by the Provincial Boilers Branch. Since we had no information or numbers on the cylinders we had to prove to them that they were okay. So, since we had spares, and they were all supposed to be the same, we took one out to the North 40 to test it. To test it we had to fill it with water and pump it up to 1.5 times the operating pressure. We wanted to operate it at 50 psi so we had to test it at 75 psi. We had the cylinder filled with water and a pump attached. Not knowing how it would fail we covered it with blasting mats and pumped away. Well, at 30 psi, the end just fell off and that was the end of using any of those dryer cylinders. So, it was back to the scrap yards looking for dryer cylinders, which we did find in bone yard at one of our other locations. The cylinders were okay but the head would not work so we had to get new heads cast so they would fit the frames we had on the machine. It was a lot of traveling around and schedule issues but in the end we got what we needed.

The Repulper

Figure-2A repulper is a piece of equipment that takes dry pulp or paper adds water and mixes it up into a slurry for processing. Inside is a rotating screw auger to mix the pulp slurry up. It is an open top vessel with the top sitting flush with the floor. This allows dry material to be pushed along the floor and into the repulper. The screw auger rotates such that the material is driven down over the auger. Figure 2 shows a cutaway of a repulper.

We were installing a new one and had a few problems with it. The first problem was with one of the components. It looked like the one on the drawing but it didn’t quit fit. The crews tried everything they could to get it in but with no luck. It was too big. So, I called the vendor about it and he says “Oh, thats where it went!”. What had happened was someone in the shop had placed the component from a bigger unit in with our package. The shop had been looking for it for a few weeks and were happy we phoned. We sent the big one back and they sent us the right one.

Once the assembly was complete we had to test it. To test it we filled it with water and turned it on. I was in the field office the day they tested it. I was sitting there when my construction superintendent came in soaking wet. Apparently, when they turned it on, instead of the auger driving the water down, it threw all the water out of the vessel. Everyone standing there got soaked, including my construction superintendent. We review the assembly manual and yes we had installed it correctly, so it was back to the vendor to find out what was the problem. We were told that the unit and the installation manual came from France and the screw auger came from Japan. The screw auger was made with a reverse thread which was the reverse of what the manual said. The manufacturer knew about this but never changed their manual. The fix was as simple as reversing the leads on the motor. You never know what you are going to come across. Some things are simple and others can be devastating.

The Yankee Dryer Hood

A yankee dryer is a large cylinder that takes a sheet of pulp across it and dries it from both sides. The inside is dried by steam in the cylinder and the outside by a dryer hood. This is a big gas fired enclosure that covers the top half of the yankee dryer, see Figure 3.

Figure-3We were starting up and had everything working as it should. We shut down for the night with everything okay. The next morning we tried to start up the hood and could not get it going, which was strange. After trying everything we knew to try we finally phoned the vendor, who was an hour drive away. The service technician came up and started trouble shooting. What he found out was the gas supply had been shut off. The main gas valve was located up in the rafters and had no handles on them, yet overnight someone on the night shift had gone up there with a wrench and shut the valve off. This was basically a case of sabotage. We had another instance where someone, again on the night shift, took a blow torch to air tubing inside the control cabinets. We were in a bi-lingual location and we had one technician with us who spoke the native (?) language. There was one operator that we had to work with on several occasions and he told us he did not speak English (we were in a remote location so there was no need for English). So every time we need something we had to bring along our technician to translate for us. Well, when we were starting up our technician was not with us and this operator ran into trouble with his equipment. Since he needed help, he had to communicate with us and that’s when we found out that he spoke perfect English. He was just being difficult in not working with us on the project, trying to make the project fail. This was the kind of attitude the plant management had to put up with on a daily basis.

When doing projects you may think the project is the best thing since sliced bread while there are others who do not want to see the project succeed. In this case we were in an operating plant and maybe some workers figured they would have to work harder when the new machine was up and running. Just keep in mind that things like this do happen on projects. I will talk about another case in a future article.

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