Philadelphia Gear

Catastrophic Failure Leads to $1,500,000/Day in Losses


Fast action gets platform online in record time

In a perfect world everybody has spare equipment. This is not a perfect world. You don’t have to tell that to an offshore gas production platform in the Gulf of Mexico after a catastrophic failure on a Philadelphia Gear brand high-speed compressor drive that was caused by a lubrication failure.

Here’s what happened: The drive was located between a gas turbine and a gas compressor used for pumping product through undersea lines directly to the customer’s onshore processing plants. The customer’s external lube system froze up and the lack of lubrication caused the melting of the Babbitt bearings within seconds. The gear set – turning at over 14,000 RPM – overheated to the point that the teeth cracked and broke apart inside the gearbox. Total loss. Total shutdown.

Now what? There’s never a good time for a failure but, even so, this one came at a particularly bad time. The customer was rushing to meet a production deadline that carried severe penalties if the contract was not fulfilled on time. They called Philadelphia Gear’s Houston facility for help. As the OEM of the compressor drive, Philadelphia Gear obviously had the exact design and dimensional data. The question was whether or not it was possible to supply a new highspeed drive in time to get the customer back online in time to fulfill their contract.

The solution. Philadelphia Gear dedicated two assemblers and a test engineer to work on an around-the-clock basis to get a replacement drive through production and test in four calendar days. The unit was then flown by helicopter out to the platform and reinstalled, bringing the platform back online in less than one week of total downtime.

The result. Philadelphia Gear’s unique ability to blend OEM expertise with an aftermarket service, “run to the problem” mentality, enabled platform operators to get back online quickly, fulfill their contract on time and avoid costly contractual penalties.

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