In 2020 we’ve seen large shifts in the fabric of our society...
...with impacts on the lives of all people and the resulting economic pressures of a world in transition. Although our routines are changing, rotating machinery is still on the same schedule regardless of external pressures. The rotating machinery that are at the heart of many critical processes are unaware of current events – they don’t care what Wall Street is doing, and they don’t abide by the regulations imposed by local government officials. They're running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to sustain vital infrastructure and essential businesses.
With economic pressure affecting capital investment and growth plans, it can be all too easy to push off critical machinery maintenance activities until they become more financially viable. Neglecting routine maintenance can have serious ramifications for the integrity of rotating machinery, though, and could ultimately result in increased repair costs and unplanned outages.
It’s important to remember that maintenance intervals exist to prolong the healthy operational life of critical rotating machinery.
Skipping these activities may save money in the short term, but can lead to long term consequences.
| Continued Below |
The short term savings to push out or skip maintenance offers cost savings today. As vital parts of our economy, we need to continue to look toward the future and ensure we are striving to create the best possible tomorrow. Keeping rotating machinery running at peak health leads to better-operating efficiency, reduces the risk of unplanned outages, and extends the life of equipment.
With all of the stress of an unpredictable world, a reliable piece of rotating machinery that has been well-maintained is the constant we need to build for a better tomorrow.
Rotating Machinery Services has taken every precaution possible to maintain the continuous operation of our shops and technical personnel. Measures like social distancing, remote working, masks, temperature screenings, and enhanced cleaning processes, are in place to keep the RMS community healthy and safe.
You can rest assured that RMS is here to support you and ensure your critical rotating machinery is maintained today for years of reliable service in the future.
— Alex Tetlow, Vice President of Sales
Meet the OFS Team
Bill Egan, Technical Director – Oil Free Screw Engineering | Russ Aerts, Product Director – Oil Free Screw Engineering
Customer satisfaction is critical to RMS’ success. To address customer concerns in the RMS Oil Free Screw (OFS) compressor business, the engineering team has been reorganized to achieve our commitment of on-time delivery with the highest possible quality. To achieve that mission, RMS is pleased to introduce new additions to our OFS team. The team now includes more than 100 years of combined experience in the repair, maintenance, fabrication, and engineering of OFS compressors and their related systems. This passionate team of experts is ready to serve RMS customers and is committed to delivering quality from start to finish.
William (Bill) Egan
Technical Director - OFS Compressors
With more than 25 years of OFS compressor experience, Bill is recognized as a global expert. Bill holds multiple patents on OFS compressors in addition to other compressor patents. Having designed most of the AC Compressor/GE OFS fleet, Bill has a keen understanding of our customers' needs and the technical requirements necessary to provide the best solutions to keep their equipment running at peak performance.
Bill spent a portion of his career at Dresser-Rand—working with the AXI OFS compressors—and the last 5 years at Howden—developing their existing OFS product range as their North American Product Leader and Technical Director. Bill looks forward to the opportunity to work on multi-OEM OFS compressors and is especially excited to meet other users who are as passionate about these machines as he is.
Russell (Russ) Aerts
Product Director - OFS Compressors
Russ spent the last 25 years in the oil and gas industry, and 19 years linked to the OFS product line. Russ started his career as an Application Engineer with AC Compressor, where he ran performance selections, developed quotes, attended technical clarification meetings, and finalized commercial negotiations. Russ was involved in the initial sale of many of the AC Compressor OFS compressor installations and looks forward to working with these machines again. Russ also held roles in Project Management, Project Engineering, Sales, and 2 years as a Six Sigma Black Belt.
When Russ started with AC Compressor, the engineering offices, the shop, and the test facility were all on the same campus. This provided him a unique opportunity to quickly gain hands-on experience and a deeper understanding of the equipment. It also presented the opportunity to receive direct feedback from the shop workers and technicians working on the equipment.
Russ looks forward to working with RMS’ impressive collection of talent within the OFS product line. This talent is perhaps unmatched in the industry, and allows RMS to offer a total solution for our customers' OFS compressor needs. Whether the issues are mechanical, rotordynamic, vibration, acoustic, systems, controls, etc., RMS is equipped to help.
Joseph (Joe) Vanden Oever
Principal Engineer - OFS Compressors
Joe has more than 28 years of design experience focused on auxiliary equipment supporting OFS compressors and centrifugal compressors in the API and non-API markets. The customers that use OFS compressors have very specific requirements, and our ability to implement these requirements provides exciting design challenges.
The OFS compressor team is dedicated to meeting directly with our customers and understanding how they use this equipment, allowing us to make sure our designs best suit their applications.
Engineering Fellow - OFS Compressors
Jeff offers more than 32 years of rotating equipment engineering experience and specialization in OFS engineering. Jeff graduated from Texas A&M University with both a BSME degree and a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. Jeff’s OFS-focused career makes him an expert on these important machines and he looks forward to continue working with RMS’ OFS compressor customers with the newly expanded team.
Thomas (Tom) Propson
Senior Designer - OFS Compressors
Tom has more than 30 years of design experience, focused in the oil and gas industry, and 18 years working with the AC Compressor OFS compressor product line.
Tom works closely with project managers, design engineers, manufacturing engineers, machinists, and assembly personnel to evaluate, improve, and execute designs.
| Continued Below |
The Future of RMS’ Oil Free Screw Compressor Product Offerings
The dedicated OFS compressor team allows for the focus on the unique traits and details that define OFS compressor engineering. The team prides itself on delivering uncompromised quality and technical support, and extensive experience allows the team to meet any design, repair, or refurbishment needs customers may have.
When working with RMS, customers can expect:
- A deeper understanding of the OFS compressor - these are niche products that few people fully understand as in-depth as the new RMS team
- A strong desire to understand the root cause of issues and a commitment to fixing them
- Faster response times for RMS’ OFS compressor customers
- Direct contact with qualified engineers
Our customers will be directly engaged with the RMS representatives working on their projects. Direct communications are critical to ensure customer needs are met and any concerns are resolved quickly and efficiently. The OFS compressor team looks forward to building close working relationships with customers to ensure decades of reliable service. Training is available on any aspect of OFS compressors and is available to all RMS customers upon request.
RMS’ OFS compressor team looks forward to working with customers in the near future to leverage their unique backgrounds and passion for OFS compressor engineering.
Noise by Design
Jeff Lovelady, Engineering Fellow
Noise can be annoying to say the least; at worst it can cause equipment damage. Acoustic energy in the process flow path can damage equipment such as pressure taps or thermowells by inducing a forced vibration on the tube extending into the flow path. The acoustic pulsations can even damage components within the pulsation attenuator as seen here.
Industrial equipment designed for the petrochemical industry follows API guidelines for the application of pulsation attenuation devices. These guidelines provide some assurances that the attenuation will protect downstream equipment without significantly impacting the performance of the machine. Screw compressors are known to have high pulsation levels at the discharge of the compressor, and require a pulsation attenuation device to reduce the overall pulsation level transmitted to the downstream piping.
The API 619 Standard for oil free screw (OFS) compressors provides limits of pulsation amplitude of 1% peak-to-peak of the discharge flange rated pressure and no more than 1% of that same pressure for the pressure drop across the attenuation device. These conditions are at the rated design point and reactive design pulsation dampeners can be designed to effectively work at this point. The designer of the attenuation device has to be aware that the conditions of the compressor will fluctuate, and that the device must still be effective over a range of conditions rather than a single point design.
Communicating all of the gas conditions and the operating speed range is an essential part of getting a pulsation attenuator that is effective over the entire operating range of the screw compressor.
- A reactive pulsation attenuator is one that uses fixed geometry devices inside the pressure vessel to reduce the pulsation of a very narrow band width of acoustic frequencies (or one frequency). This device type is effective since it targets a very narrow bandwidth with a low pressure drop.
- By comparison, a passive or absorptive device uses packed materials or a series of baffles that are effective at attenuating a wide range of frequencies but at the cost of 5-7% pressure drop.
- There are devices that use both methods of attenuation that provide an effective attenuation with 3-5% pressure drop.
| Continued Below |
Remember glass pack mufflers, the automotive muffler of choice by many hot rodders? This muffler was a combination of reactive and passive attenuation. Packed or absorptive silencers are not used in API 619 service since the pressure pulsations in a screw compressor are high enough to destroy the packing layer. The packing in an absorptive silencer will also become packed with product if there are any solids or liquid in the discharge gas. Most attenuators with baffle designs have a higher pressure loss than is allowed by API 619. These limitations to the absorptive silencer design are the principal justification for using reactive silencers in industrial service with OFS compressors.
Periodic opening of the screw compressor threads during the compression process produces a gas pulsation at the lobe passing frequency. A compressor running at 3600 rpm with 4 lobes on the driven rotor will have a lobe passing frequency of 240 hz. Each internal tube of the pulsation attenuator has an acoustic natural frequency at which it sustains a resonance.
The tube natural frequency [f] is calculated using the speed of sound of the gas [ν] and the effective length [λ] of the tube: f = ν / λ
The speed of sound depends on the molecular weight and temperature of the gas at the discharge. The frequency used to calculate this effective length is the lobe passing frequency. It is fairly easy to see that if the speed of sound changes then the tuning of the tubes will also change.
Pulsation attenuation for a reactive attenuator must consider a single design point for optimization. The problem becomes selecting that design point. The API Standard is set for the rated point of the compressor. This may not be the best condition to base the design since the rated point may be a max flow condition that is required for plant output guarantees. This guarantee point may not be where the unit is run. If the compressor is run with a fixed speed drive with capacity control through a recycle loop then the compressor conditions are usually limited to a narrow range of pressure, temperature, and speed. A fixed speed application can be effectively designed if the molecular weight and temperature of the gas remains within 5% of the design value. If these gas conditions do change then the resonant length of the internal choke tubes would not be tuned to the correct length.
If the compressor is run with a variable speed then the lobe pass frequency would change and will have the same result, a choke tube that is not tuned to that frequency. Variable speed drives that also incorporate molecular weight changes in the process the problem becomes complicated and a good understanding of the process controls is needed to design the pulsation attenuator.
In most cases a solution that serves the range of conditions can be applied; however, it may come at the cost of additional pressure drop across the pulsation attenuator. Working with the compressor manufacturer will allow the engineers to evaluate the impact of that pressure drop. API limits to pressure drop in the pulsation attenuator are there to provide the end user with a reasonable expectation that the compressor does not suffer excess power consumption due to external devices. The additional pressure loss may not result in a significant increase in power and the resultant reduction in pulsation amplitude may be well worth the slight loss in pressure.
Communication between the end user and the pulsation attenuator engineering team is essential when the process conditions change whether it is in normal operation or due to a rerate in the system. New equipment design parameters should be reviewed carefully to make sure that the conditions in operation are well understood so that the designers can select the optimum condition for design. OFS compressors are very effective at positive displacement applications and, when applied with the right pulsation attenuator, can provide years of trouble-free service.
3D Scanning Tools
Utilizing the latest technology to complement RMS expertise.
Allan Mathis, Principal Engineer | Eric Dunlap, Senior Engineer
The experienced RMS engineering team continues to employ the latest technology to augment RMS’ ability to deliver high quality solutions for our customers. One piece of this tech is the FaroArm 3D scanning tool, which RMS uses at both the Bethlehem, PA and Houston, TX shops. This important tool has a number of applications which include inspections, reverse engineering, and assisting RMS in producing the best possible results for its customers.
- Reverse Engineering: Acquiring precise digital measurement data on parts or assemblies for which blueprints or CAD drawings do not exist.
- CAD-Based Inspection: Quickly identifying deviations from nominal CAD data with 3D metrology solutions from FARO.
- Dimensional Inspection: Quickly capturing measurements, performing inspections in 3D, and ensuring proper tolerances are achieved with FARO products and expertise.
- First Article Inspection: Ensuring first article parts meet design specifications and tolerances before accepting them and putting them into production.
- In-Process Inspection: Inspecting parts in-process, directly on or at the machine producing them. Eliminating inspection bottlenecks. Saving the time and effort required to pull the part off the machine, transport to inspection, send back to the machine, re-mount (and re-align), and re-inspect.
- Incoming Inspection: Preventing out-of-tolerance parts from reaching assembly and ensuring high-quality products.
As parts arrive, RMS compares the part against the drawing (where applicable) to ensure the dimensions are correct. Depending on the tolerances, if outside the FaroArm tolerance, we will use regular inspection tools along with the FaroArm. Parts that we have a solid model are imported into inspector software where RMS scans the part and overlays the polygonal model to determine if there are any deviations, which includes GD&T (Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerance) measurements. Upon completion of these inspections, a final report is drafted up and the part proceeds to its final destination.
In addition to inspection capabilities, RMS’ engineers use the FaroArm to reverse engineer parts and gather the required data to baseline components. This data is then used by RMS engineers to upgrade and improve upon current designs using the latest in engineering techniques and decades of experience. The FaroArm’s ability to gather the crucial data needed to reverse engineer components makes it a critical tool used at both RMS shops.
Houston, Texas Case Study
RMS was contacted by a customer who wanted to replace their impeller/rotor in a single-stage overhung centrifugal compressor with an upgraded design. The RMS Houston shop used the latest in FaroArm technology and scanning programs to scan the customer’s current impeller/rotor so that the RMS engineering team could reverse engineer and then improve the design.
RMS used the scans from the FaroArm to create a 3D model of the impeller that was then analyzed by the RMS engineering team. The team used this data to start working on the improved design. RMS in-house aerodynamicist also used this modeling data to design the replacement impeller. The final improved impeller design also benefited from RMS AC Compressor engineering experience and intellectual property thanks to decades of experience designing impellers for similar applications.
Thanks to the data gathered with the use of the FaroArm, RMS will supply the customer with an impeller that will fit while also providing improved performance. The ability to reverse engineer components allows RMS to service and upgrade any component regardless of access to engineering drawings.
Bethlehem, PA Case Study
RMS had an Ingersoll-Rand 3000 frame axial compressor in the Bethlehem shop for a routine overhaul. The customer had a complete spare unit and was able to ship the entire axial compressor—casing included—to RMS at the completion of its operating campaign.
The inspection found that the first and second stage rotor blades and discs had suffered corrosion damage and should be retired from service. RMS and the customer took advantage of this opportunity to modify the design of the replacement blades and discs to rerate the compressor to achieve 3% increased flow capacity.
As part of the repair and rerate, the existing compressor casing flow path was laser scanned with the FaroArm laser scanner. Using this data, RMS was able to optimize the tip height of the replacement rotor blades to balance the need for maximum efficiency with the requirement to minimize the potential for an in-service blade tip rub.
Virtual Training Success
Steve Kaulius, Director - Centrifugal Compressor New Business
In the rotating equipment industry, the ability to come together and share knowledge is an exciting opportunity to grow and collaborate for the improvement of turbomachinery everywhere. RMS is especially passionate about sharing knowledge and expertise gathered over decades of multi-OEM turbomachinery engineering, but due to recent travel restrictions, in-person meetings were no longer optimal. The team was able to pivot to create virtual training sessions hosted on the latest meeting software, which has resulted in RMS conducting more training sessions than ever.
Necessity is the mother of invention, and this force guided RMS to transition to online training for our customers around the globe, who now have the opportunity to learn from an experienced RMS team member from anywhere with internet. Virtual training has allowed RMS to host more training events than ever while making it easier for attendees to join these valuable meetings.
RMS has held numerous virtual training events over the last quarter, which were led by different RMS representatives who furnished their expertise on RMS. Customers had the opportunity to ask questions about specific examples and projects.
RMS is planning more training sessions as interest from customers continues to grow. In this last quarter, RMS held training sessions focused on:
Centrifugal Compressor Overview: Performance, Start-Up, Variance Based on Gases, Surge, Thrust, Types, Components, Installation, Operation, Monitoring, and Maintenance
Field Service & Machinery Maintenance: Planning, Execution, Documentation Requirements, Commissioning, Hardware
Steam Turbine: Overview and Performance, Controls, Overhauls, Operation and Maintenance, Rerates and Upgrades
Oil Free Screw Compressors: Components, Installation, Operation, Monitoring, and Maintenance
RMS also has the ability to train on Axial Compressors, FCC Expanders, Nitric Acid Expanders, Power Turbines, and Gas Turbines while focusing on various sub-topics depending on a customer’s training needs. RMS’ ability to cover a large breadth of rotating machinery while providing valuable in-depth knowledge sets our training apart.
To learn more about RMS’ training events please reach out to your local RMS sales team member.
Refinery FCC Expander Overhaul
Eric Dunlap, Senior Engineer
RMS recently completed repair and overhaul of a GEC FEX-125HT expander. This expander is used in the refinery FCC unit power recovery train and is rated to generate over 27,000 shaft horsepower (roughly equivalent to 56 C8 Corvettes).
The rotor, bearing, seal assembly, and intake casing assembly were removed from service during a routine planned maintenance outage and shipped to the RMS facility in Bethlehem, PA for disassembly and inspection.
The inspection findings were typical for this model expander after completing an operating campaign. Erosion cutting was found on the rotor blades and disc tenons and the large, thin, hot casings were found to be distorted and out of round. RMS personnel have extensive experience repairing hot gas expanders and made efficient work of the repair.
New rotor blades were manufactured, casings were weld repaired and re-machined as required, and new hardware was supplied. At the completion of repairs, the rotor was assembled and balanced, and the rotor bearing, seal assembly, and the intake casing assemblies were re-assembled. All critical clearances and fits were verified in the shop facility. The major sub-assemblies were then preserved as required and shipped to the customer’s warehouse, waiting to again be called back into service at the next unit turnaround.
Steam Turbine Overhaul for Steel Industry Customer
Restoring a 73 year old steam turbine to its former glory.
Sydney Gross, Director - Steam Turbine Engineering
RMS was tasked with performing a Phase 1 inspection on a spare steam turbine rotor used in a steel mill blast furnace blower. The rotor was from a 1947 vintage DeLaval condensing turbine. Visual and NDT inspection revealed several blade rows required replacement or repair while runout indications showed the rotor to be bowed. As a built-up rotor, discs on shaft, the conditions of the Phase 1 inspection required a Phase 2 disassembly inspection to investigate and rectify the bow.
After obtaining the critical dimensional information for the rebuild, the rotor was destacked. Indication of the bare shaft revealed it to be the source of the rotor bow. In addition, the blade rows to be replaced were found to be corroded into the discs so thoroughly that replacement of the discs was necessary.
RMS performed all reverse engineering and design work to restore the rotor to its former glory with new blades, discs and shaft. The effort was accomplished with skilled reverse engineering performed by craftspeople and designers with decades of experience caring for turbomachinery of all sizes and manufacturers.
The rotor is undergoing final inspections and at-speed balance before being returned to the customer for another 73 years of reliable service.
Complete Start-to-Finish Support
Timely compressor overhaul by RMS gets plant up and running at full capacity.
Ryan Rottier, Product Director - AC Compressor Centrifugal Compressors | Thomas Devlin, Project Management | James Lucas, Regional Sales Manager
RMS recently worked with a customer who experienced a catastrophic failure of their AC Compressor D16JR Single-Stage Overhung Compressor. Before working with RMS, this customer worked with another vendor to source a replacement impeller, which failed without warning and caused a significant loss to productivity. When the customer reached out, RMS representatives quickly provided support and formulated a plan to bring the plant back online. Thanks to RMS’ experienced AC Compressor team and access to AC Compressor assets, RMS helped the customer get their plant back online in a timely manner despite this unexpected failure.
The customer has two compressors that run in parallel, pulling steam off an evaporator as part of a sodium sulfate refining process. The impeller on one of their two AC Compressor D16JR compressors split in half, causing a catastrophic failure of the compressor. The inlet nozzle, casing, and impeller were all damaged beyond repair. There were no warning signs (vibration, performance change, etc.) indicating this failure was imminent, so the customer was caught off-guard. With one of the compressors down due to the failure, their production rates reduced significantly.
Fortunately, the customer had a spare rotor from the failed compressor as well as a surplus D16JR compressor on-hand. This surplus compressor was a little different than the compressor that failed, however. RMS engineers evaluated the surplus compressor’s design and compared it against the original compressor to determine what modifications were needed to make a suitable replacement for the failed compressor. The primary difference was in the inlet nozzle design, but RMS was able to re-design the surplus inlet nozzle and have it machined to fit and work with the spare rotor from the failed compressor. The RMS Engineering team quickly released a repair drawing, and the RMS Sourcing team was able to work with a machine shop in Houston for a quick turnaround.
| Continued Below |
Besides the fit, the other area of concern with the surplus compressor was its condition, since it had been sitting in the elements for several years. The bearing housing, in particular, had a lot of rust and looked like it may need significant work to be usable, which was confirmed once RMS cleaned and inspected it.
Significant corrosion was present on the surplus unit’s bearing housing, so RMS worked with the customer to evaluate the bearing housing from the failed compressor. Upon inspection of the failed compressor’s bearing housing, significant cracks were found, however this bearing housing was still in much better shape than the surplus compressor bearing housing. The RMS Engineering team quickly developed a repair plan for the failed compressor’s bearing housing, and the RMS-Mepco machine shop was able to complete the repair in time for compressor assembly as planned. Other unplanned work included rebalancing the rotor and repairing cracks in the backplate. All of these unplanned repairs were addressed quickly by the Engineering and Houston Operations teams.
RMS also provided field service support to get the repaired compressor installed on-site and ensure the commissioning process went smoothly.
This complete support from start to finish allowed RMS to monitor the entire repair process and help the customer get their plant up and running at full capacity in a timely manner while ensuring all of the work was done with the highest quality.
Thanks to RMS’ technical expertise, the team was able to assess the situation, find the best solution with the tools on hand, and guide the repair process leading to the most efficient and highest-quality deliverables. Our mission to constantly communicate with customers allows for a united response during high-pressure situations, and a result both parties were proud to deliver.
Cooper-Bessemer Pipeline Rerates
George Donald, Technical Director - Centrifugal Compressors | Steve Kaulius, Director - Centrifugal Compressors New Business | Marc Rubino, Principal Engineer
RMS had the opportunity to work with a pipeline customer to rerate three of their Cooper-Bessemer RCB-14 single stage overhung centrifugal compressors as part of our customer’s planned pipeline expansion project. RMS worked with the customer and a partner millwright service to plan and execute this compressor rerate project that helped the customer reach their new design performance levels. RMS’ engineers worked directly with the customer to engineer new impellers, manage the on-site testing, and commission these newly rerated compressors.
The customer required the rerated compressors to deliver more head to increase the output of their natural gas pipeline. These specific customer requirements were used by RMS engineers who conducted the design work in RMS’ Bethlehem location. The RMS Engineering team got to work designing new compressor wheels and components required to deliver the performance curves outlined by the customer.
Thanks to decades of experience and RMS’ ability to collaborate with industry-leading consultants, the team was able to redesign the compressors to meet the customer’s required performance metrics. The rerated compressors produce some of the highest head of any compressor wheel built by RMS and perfectly matched this specific application.
Upon completion of the new wheels and components for the rerated Cooper-Bessemer RCB-14 single stage overhung centrifugal compressors, the RMS Engineering team was on-site to oversee the installation, testing, and final commissioning of these new compressors. RMS’ ability to test compressors on-site allows the team to validate compressor performance. All three compressors exhibited acceptable performance per the new performance curves.
RMS immediately started work with the customer on a subsequent operation at another pipeline station. This second compressor rerate operation is currently underway and RMS looks forward to delivering another successful rerate for the customer.
1987 to 2020 (and beyond)
30+ year partnership and legacy CONMEC expertise prove vital for RMS customer
George Donald, Technical Director - Centrifugal Compressors | Steve Kaulius, Director - Centrifugal Compressor New Business | James Lucas, Regional Sales Manager
RMS was approached by a customer who needed new performance curves for their MTG665 and MTG742RE compressors due to an increased MCOS of their GE Frame 5 gas turbine. The RMS engineering team worked with the customer to start this engineering review, and, in the process, identified additional modifications that would allow for more efficient compressor operation.
RMS knows the MTG665 and MTG742RE compressors well, as these machines were part of CONMEC’s first-ever rerate operation that took place in this customer facility in 1987; the same year CONMEC was founded. Many RMS employees started their careers at CONMEC and RMS' roots can be traced back to this innovative institution. RMS acquired CONMEC's intellectual property alongside AC Compressor from GE in 2018, which allows RMS to reference the drawings from this initial operation for the engineering currently taking place.
RMS referenced CONMEC’s files and the experienced engineering team that worked on this very project at CONMEC to give our customer the best possible support.
During the engineering review, RMS' team advised the customer that they could remove the balance line piping that was intended to balance the pressure at the gas seals. The testing showed that all three compressors performed as predicted in the new performance curves.
RMS is currently working with the customer on the compressor engineering review to generate new performance curves that account for the gas turbine’s increased speed, while also accounting for the removal of the seal balance line. This exercise will allow the customer to take full advantage of the GE Frame 5 gas turbine’s increased MCOS, and the recent efficiency gain discovered by RMS' engineers.
Walk-Through the RMS-Mepco Facility
Matt Miller, Director of Operations
A favorite activity while at RMS’ Mepco facility is leading customer tours, and over the past several months there have been many shop improvements to point out. Please don your safety glasses and mask, and join me as we take an imaginary tour to see our floor-to-ceiling upgrades!
(Disclaimer: Any individuals photographed without a mask are legacy shots prior to current COVID-19 protocols.)
Upon entering the manufacturing space from the front office, it is immediately evident how much brighter the workspace is. We have replaced all of the high-intensity fluorescent instruments with even brighter LED lights throughout the facility. Not only are we realizing savings on electricity (to help pay for even more improvements!), but we’re saving on batteries too, since flashlights are seldom needed. The brighter lights boost morale, improve safety, and help us maintain the quality workmanship we are known for.
Now that we are winding our way through the machine shop, do take time to notice the assortment of Nash Blower rotors being worked on and the shafts being finish-ground. Let’s hang a hard left just past the one-year old Haas CNC milling center that’s busily milling valve “plug” dove-tails…
| Continue The Tour Below |
In our Impeller Shop we have the ability manufacture or repair RMS, or any other OEM, impellers. After we get the “all clear” from the welders, we can slide back the weld curtain and enter the area. On today’s tour you will notice that we are repairing an AC Compressor Single Stage Rotor, our Model D36. This particular wheel is getting both the “eye” and “shroud” welded as part of the repair process, and next door we are busy welding “slot welded” 2-piece fabricated impellers. We have purchased a semi-auto welding machine for these slot welded impellers, but as it is not yet set up, you just might see it on your next tour! But it’s time to move on, so let’s turn around and head over to the high-bay.
The next stop on our imaginary tour is our Incoming QC Department. This area is the subject of an ongoing project to do a complete remodel. With major equipment, including a FaroArm, a PMI gun, and additional measuring equipment already purchased, it is time to gussy up the physical space.
Whereas today we have a semi-open concept, we are planning to totally enclose this area to maintain greater cleanliness. With the area enclosed and layout from the working group complete, we will have strategically placed man and garage doors, and windows so you can see what is going on from the main aisle. Upon stepping inside you will be greeted by benches and tables for goods and computers, parking spots for inbound and outbound material, and visual management systems in place. The pace and tempo will drive “flow” through the department, and we are actively reviewing various IT improvements to assist with inventory and location tracking.
Now that we are just past the Clean Room, which is dedicated to our work on chlorine as well as oxygen compressors, be sure to look down as we are moving quickly into the high-bay…
In the high-bay, we have started our floor-painting initiative, and as of today’s tour, the forklift aisles are all painted safety blue. The painted aisles have been a great improvement from an aesthetics perspective, but they also play a role in both Safety and Quality. These painted areas show dirt and debris like unpainted concrete never will. And in our industry, dirt is the enemy. So with better visibility, and our recently acquired ride-on floor scrubber, it is a breeze to keep the floors clean and hazard free. Next steps include the planned painting, using light grey paint, of several key work areas including our Balance Department. But more on that later...
Before turning the corner to head south towards Balance, please take a moment to look up and notice the third bridge crane installed earlier this year. This crane has been a boon to productivity as we are now seldom, if ever, “crane bound," so work can proceed on schedule.
Pausing as we head south, notice that our Balance Department is going through a thorough revamp as well. Updates include additional barricades and rolling gates for greater access control and worker safety, rearranging where workers’ tool boxes and cabinets are stored to give a more open concept, the re-purposing of a previously removed-from-service balance machine as an additional rotor runout stand, and the removal of other out-of-use equipment. The main attraction, however, is our brand new Schenck direct-drive balance machine that is quickly becoming the work-horse on large “open face” impellers and overhung rotors. As mentioned earlier, the floors will be painted light grey (to show every spec of grinding dust), and I must not forget to mention that we are also installing additional machine guarding to keep our workforce even safer.
As we move a bit further south, please turn and face our Overhaul Area on the west side of the aisle. This area has been rearranged, has wall-mounted LED lights for even greater intensity when needed, and has wonderful jib-crane access. We think of this area as our “flex space” in that it can be quickly reconfigured for just about any size machine, and a recent project saw scaffolding erected around a very large centrifugal compressor, so yes, it is flexible for sure! And the wall-mounted big-screen TV over there is not for video games! But it IS for pulling up and zooming in on those complicated, sometimes tough-to-read drawings.
Before we wrap up today’s imaginary tour let’s stop and say ‘hi’ to the Mechanics while they work on an assortment of Garo Compressors, pumps, small steam turbines, and AC Compressor Oil Free Screw Compressors on our in-ground tilt-tables.
Thanks for coming along for our pretend tour, and I trust you found it informative. If you, or your co-workers want to do it for real, please make an appointment (due to COVID-19) and stop in!
COVID-19 Realities: Working From Home
Tariq Harris, Lead Engineer
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a disruptor to the normal way we live and work. Some of the changes have been positive while other changes have proven more challenging to adjust to. At RMS, working remotely has shifted from an ‘as needed’ activity to a full-time activity, particularly for those cities that had ‘stay at home’ orders in place. For me, Lead Engineer in the AC Compressor Engineering Team, the team has always been split between the Appleton and Houston offices. However, since working at home a majority of the time now, there are three challenges that have been amplified.
The first major challenge is the ability to observe compressor hardware in the shop in-person. During the ‘stay at home’ period between the months of April and June, the technicians would take pictures of the components for engineering to review. Although this was helpful, at times it didn’t completely replace hands-on observations of the components.
The second major challenge while working remotely is establishing boundaries to end the work day. While the working day may end at a certain time, I find myself signing back in to finish one more email or review one more document. I'm sure that everyone reading this has experienced some of this as well. This frequently will extend several hours as ‘one more’ turns into several more. While I haven’t completely employed the discipline to end the day at a normal time, I have incorporated more physical activity which necessitates the day ends at a normal time.
This leads to my final challenge, which is increased stagnation from being in the home most of the day and co-workers not nearby. Consequently, sitting for long periods of time with limited physical movement is increasingly the norm. This has led to the need for me to be more intentional about increasing my physical activity by standing and stretching periodically, taking walks at lunch or at the end of the day, and taking a fitness class after normal working hours.
Although working remotely full time has presented challenges, there have been positive aspects that should be mentioned as well. There can be less distractions working remotely when compared to working in the office. With less chance of being interrupted to leave for a meeting or speak with someone, I find myself able to focus for longer periods of time without interruption. I’ve also been able to establish a healthier routine to start my workday. This includes more sleep, eating a healthier breakfast in the morning, and less stress overall. Finally the time spent commuting between home and the office is spent enjoying more time with my family.
Overall, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced me to adapt. While it’s unknown how long change will last, I am discovering how to be better and do better both for work and for my family.
Fresh Faces: James Weider
Why I started my career at RMS
James Weider, Project Management Training Program
As part of my mechanical engineering curriculum at Drexel University, I was required to find an internship that would complement my education. I did some research and talked to Carol Hamm, Manager of Project Management at RMS, about joining RMS’ project management team as an intern. This new opportunity allowed me to gain a better understanding of how engineering-focused businesses like RMS successfully operate.
At my previous internships, I worked as a Design Engineer and a Mechanical Engineer, so the next logical step was to learn about Project Management. My role at RMS allowed me to explore my fascination with turbomachinery and related directly to what I learned in my thermodynamic and aerospace courses at Drexel.
The opportunity to intern at RMS in a Project Management role also allowed me to utilize the information that I learned while at college that I was not able to experience at some of my other internships.
After onboarding with RMS, the biggest change I had to adapt to was the fast pace of spare parts projects that I primarily worked on. Project management was very new to me, but with guidance and instructions from the senior Project Managers, I gained the knowledge and tools to successfully run projects.
Running a turnaround operation as a Project Manager was one of my most impactful experiences and an important learning opportunity during my internship. This allowed me to manage a project from start to finish and work closely with customer stakeholders to communicate updates. The turnaround operation also allowed me to work closely with vendors and my coworkers at RMS when unexpected changes in the scope occurred to ensure the project was delivered on time.
My internship at RMS provided me with new skill sets and learning opportunities that I wanted to continue to experience in my career.
I accepted the offer from RMS to work as a full-time RMS employee and am excited for the opportunity to gain a better knowledge of RMS and how it operates. Working full time at RMS means I can continue to learn more about rotating machinery from the project management and engineering perspective. I am excited to start my career at RMS, work more closely with the engineering team on projects, and to see how the parts that I was once writing purchase order requests for are designed and developed. I am also looking forward to learning about the other facets of RMS that I worked with so closely as a project management intern, such as the Shop and Purchasing.
I enjoy the fast pace of projects and how every day brings a new challenge and I look forward to learning more every day as I start my career at RMS.
Farzam Mortazavi, Senior Engineer — Farzam comes to RMS from Knight Hawk Engineering (Houston) where he designed, analyzed, and troubleshot rotating and static equipment. Prior to that, Farzam achieved his doctorate at Texas A&M as a well published researcher of turbomachinery, specializing in rotordynamics. He holds a MSc. (University of Tehran) and a BSc. (Semnan University).
Joseph (Joe) Vanden Oever, Principal Engineer – OFS Engineering — Joe spent the majority of his career at AC Compressor in the Oil Free Screw Product Group. Most recently, Joe was the Packaging Engineer with Howden Roots. Joe is a registered professional engineer (Electrical Engineering) in Wisconsin and is an active participant on several API publication teams. Joe holds a BS in Electrical Engineering (Milwaukee School of Engineering) and an MBA (University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh).
Russell (Russ) Aerts, Product Director – OFS Engineering — Russ started his career at AC Compressor as an application engineer while earning his Black Belt in Six Sigma (within GE Oil & Gas) in the area of business improvement. Russ’ career progressed through Weir Minerals and GE Oil & Gas where he held the roles of Product Manager, Project Manager and Commercial Manager. Russ brings 25 years of experience to RMS. Russ holds a Bachelor's degree. in Business Administration BBA (St. Norbert College), a BSc. degree in Mechanical Engineering (University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee), and an MBA (University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh).
William (Bill) Egan, Technical Director – OFS Engineering — Bill started his career at AC Compressor as an OFS design engineer. He was instrumental in establishing the foundations of the designs that comprise much of the current AC Compressor OFS product portfolio. Bill brings a proven track record of 23 years of OFS design experience in addition to engineering management, product development, business development and customer relationship skills. Bill has a Six Sigma Black Belt in the areas of design and root cause analysis. Bill holds a Mechanical Engineering degree with a minor in Business Administration (University of Wisconsin – Platteville) as well as a BA in Computer Science (Lakeland University).
Arun Kumar, Senior Engineer — Arun has joined the AC Compressor Centrifugal Compressor product group. Arun spent a good portion of his career aligned with the AC Compressor product line under GE Oil & Gas as a Mechanical Design Engineer. Arun previously worked for Dresser-Rand as a Product Development Engineer before moving to Howden Compressors, Inc. as a Centrifugal and Rotary Engineer. Arun holds a Bachelor’s degree (Regional Engineering College in India) and a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering (Wayne State University).
Alex Clemson, Senior Financial Analyst — . Alex joins RMS from Baker Tilly, where he worked for the past 8 years, most recently as an Audit Manager. In his role at RMS, Alex will handle financial analysis, monthly close, and other technical accounting matters. Alex holds an MBA and Bachelor's of Accounting and Finance degree (DeSales University).
Alex Tetlow, Vice President of Sales — Early in his career, Alex worked as an application engineer and later as a technical sales specialist with AC Compressor (under GE Oil & Gas ownership). After that he served as a Sr. Sales Engineer and then as Account Executive with Elliott Group. Most recently, Alex held the position of Director of New Unit and Aftermarket Business with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries – Compressor International. Alex holds a BSME degree (Arizona State University).
Levi Waechter, Senior Mechanic Lead — Levi joins RMS with more than 17 years of rotating machinery experience. Most recently Levi worked at Howden, where he was responsible for disassembly, inspection, and assembly of rotating equipment such as rotary blowers, multi-stage compressors, overhung compressors, screw compressors, centrifugal compressors, and more.
James Weider, Project Management Training Program — James has been with RMS since April 2019 as a Project Management Intern. He graduated in 2020 with a BS in Mechanical Engineering (Drexel University). James will progress through a training program that consists of Engineering, Shop, Sourcing, and Project Management. Each rotation will last around 6 months, mentored by the manager of that function.
William St. Thomas, Machinist — Williams brings more than 35 years of experience working in a shop environment to RMS. He's experience a great deal of machinery which includes operating CNC machinery, manual lathes, and milling machines—to name a few. William's commitment to safety and on-time delivery make him an important addition to the RMS team.
Efren Contreras, Mechanic — Efren joins RMS with more than 30 years of experience in precision welding procedures. Efren conducted industry compliance repairs and assembly to validate the safe and reliable operation of turbomachinery, including AC Compressor single stage D/DH frames, multistage centrifugal compressors, OFS compressors up to 250xl frame, generators, barrel compressors and gearboxes. Efren’s diverse experience and passion for rotating machinery make him an important addition to the team.
Joshua Finch, Utility Person — Joshua has more than 5 years of CNC machine experience working on results that fit specified tolerances of .001 and .0001. Joshua’s attention to detail and ability to work with a variety of CNC machines makes him a great asset to RMS. In addition to his CNC experience, Joshua has worked in quality control and training of other team members.