Case Study

Executing an emergency rebuild for a sugar cooperative

When the Chief Engineer of a major Sugar Co-Operative in Louisiana, reported a “bump” in his low-speed mill drive (one of four such units on-site), he authorized Philadelphia Gear Sales Representative Gayle Quinlan to visit and check out the situation. Prior to the visit, however, the noise became more noticeable and the customer was forced to shut the unit down.

To accommodate this development, Tony Ellington, from Philadelphia Gear’s Field Service Department, shifted his schedule and was on-site a day early to check out the problem. Tony had done some inspection work at the sugar mill the previous year and was familiar with the equipment. Joined by Quinlan, the two met with both the Chief Engineer and the plant’s General Manager to discuss how to get the mill running as soon as possible, as well as to determine if an upgrade was necessary.

The Problem

After a thorough investigation of the available options, the group agreed that it was not feasible to try and repair the unit before the current sugar-processing season was over. The bull gear was damaged, necessitating a long lead-time for repair.

Also, though the original gearboxes had been designed to run at 800 HP (maximum 1000 HP), the turbines that they were supporting were upgraded five seasons ago to run at a maximum of 1800 HP, routinely running at more that 1200 HP since the upgrade took place. This necessitated an examination of engineering options available to increase these ratings to an appropriate level – including an immediate change to the low-speed unit and an eventual change of the high-speed unit.

Gearbox inspection

The Solution

Quinlan recruited Greg Stephenson, Engineer for Houston Inspect & Repair operations, and Earl Robinson, Parts Service Manager in Norristown, to further inspect the mill, and make recommendations for repair. Upon further analyses, Philadelphia Gear was able to determine that bull gear could be re-rimmed, rather than replaced entirely. Two weeks after the initial visit, the customer received their quote for the repair. Although the Philadelphia Gear quote was the highest submitted, they were awarded the repair work for this very critical application. The attention and sense of urgency that Philadelphia Gear demonstrated to the customer won their trust and confidence.

Based on the estimate, the following repairs were scheduled for the customer’s low-speed mill drive:

  • Inspection of the remaining gears and bearings once the mill shut down in January; shipment of the bull gear to Houston for re-rim
  • Assessment and quote of any other damage at that time
  • Reinstallation (to be done on-site) with Ellington’s supervision
  • Potential upgrade/rebuild of low-speed unit, including bearings and seals
  • Engineering of boxes to handle the upgraded turbines; replacement of existing competitor unit to match other Philadelphia Gear units
Sugar mill
Scroll to Top