In 1999 and 2000, the Eufaula, Ala.-based manufacturer was performing weekly repairs on the worn elbows of its ceramic bead plant. After teaming with HammerTek, the company replaced all 12 elbows in their system with Smart Elbow deflection elbow technology. The Smart Elbow units have lasted at least four years compared to the one- or two-week lifespan of their previous elbows.
The source of the problem was the calcined kaolin used to make the company’s ceramic proppants. Transporting this highly abrasive material to 10 storage silos, the elbows of the company’s conveying lines quickly wore down. Tom Sorenson, the company’s maintenance manager, knew the weekly chore of patching and replacing the elbows was costing them valuable time and money. Each of the current elbows in Carbo’s facility would wear through and leak in one to two weeks of installation. Fixing the failing elbows was no easy task either: many of them were hard to access and frequently required a three-person crew, plus the leaks caused lost production time and hours of housekeeping cleanup. Sorenson knew they had to make a change.
It was shortly after that when Sorenson and a colleague saw an ad for the Smart Elbow deflection elbow from HammerTek Corporation. The two read that HammerTek’s Smart Elbow model technology had been successful in some of the world’s largest facilities handling ceramics, plastics, grains, minerals, food ingredients, and other materials. Carbo Ceramics manufactures ceramic beads for use as proppants for oil and gas exploration and drilling by such industry leaders as Halliburton and Schlumberger. Since HammerTek was familiar with their industry, the Smart Elbow deflection elbow sounded like it could provide a solution to their problem.
After careful study of Carbo Ceramics’ material and processes by HammerTek’s Application Engineering Manager Linn Riggert, HammerTek was able to specify the ideal model for their needs: a 300-BHN hardness elbow combined with an interior coating of tungsten carbide. The specialized alloy and coating combined with the Smart Elbow model’s design produced the necessary reduction in wear on their systems. Only one elbow has been patched since replacing them with the Smart Elbow deflection elbow. There are cost savings,” says Sorenson, “but more importantly, you can’t place a high enough value on the peace of mind.”