Uprated pumps empower chemical plant to boost process pressure faster

Big chemical production sites measure their lifespans in decades. From the outside, a plant may look very similar from one year to the next. Behind the scenes, however, operators are continually adjusting and adapting their facilities to boost yields, drive down costs and integrate new technologies. For one chemical plant in Singapore, uprating, not replacing, a critical pump enabled a shift to higher pressure operation six months faster, and at much lower cost.

Retrofitted pump in Sulzer facility
Customer International Oil Company’s Chemical Plant
Location Jurong Island, Singapore
Industry Petrochemicals, downstream Oil & Gas
Key Services


200k US$


6 months


45 bar @ 92 °C MAWP


Sulzer achieved the 45 bar MAWP with a timely and cost-effective pump re-rate, while meeting customers’ multiple operational and timeline needs.

The Challenge

Yield boost requirements challenged by pumps’ design limitations

To boost yields as part of a wider revamp project, the chemical plant wanted to increase operating pressure in a process area. However, this would exceed the 38 bar maximum allowable working pressure (MAWP) of a large condensate pump at the facility. To achieve the required 45 bar MAWP, operators approached Sulzer for a solution to their problem as it was the original pump OEM.

  • The VS6 type barrel pumps could not meet the required increase to 45 bar MAWP
  • Replacing the existing pumps with new units would take considerable time
  • Increased investment would be required for the customer to source new pumps
  • The chemical plant had entrusted Sulzer with finding an optimal solution to the operating pressure increase
  • A reserve pump was also needed on-site during the project

The Solution

Re-rate with selective upgrades backed by expert global engineering team

Instead of sourcing new replacements, Sulzer experts examined one of the pumps and proved that with selective upgrades it could achieve the 45 bar MAWP. The re-rate would be supported by testing and recertification while considering all relevant reserve and safety factors. Furthermore, this could be achieved within a shorter timeframe and at a reduced cost compared to sourcing new pumps.

  • The pumps were stripped down for analysis at a Sulzer engineering facility in Singapore. Wear parts such as the corroded impellers were identified for replacement, and all other parts inspected and subjected to dye penetrant testing (DPT). The concept of the retrofit solution focuses on salvaging existing components where possible to reduce wastage, costs and in-turn increase turnaround speed.
  • Sulzer’s unparalleled global engineering network meant that pump experts in Germany joined the project to design and manufacture new pump caissons with thicker walls and upgraded materials to cope with the higher working pressure and improve corrosion resistance respectively. Sulzer engineers also uprated the seal system to meet the new operating parameters.
  • The caissons, seals and other components were then shipped to Singapore where the pumps were reassembled, hydro tested and fully certified for the higher MAWP.
  • Dedicated local Sulzer field service specialists installed and commissioned the uprated pumps at the customer’s site.
  • The uprates were carried out sequentially to ensure a reserve pump was always available.

Explore our solutions

  • Reverse engineering
    Re-engineering provides customers with an alternative for sourcing parts for their equipment. Whether looking to upgrade components, quicker deliveries, or replacing parts, re-engineering provides an opportunity to ensure your equipment keeps running at peak performance.

The Customer Benefit 

MAWP achieved at reduced time and costs compared to new pumps CAPEX

As a global pump OEM with unmatched product and application knowledge, Sulzer was able to prove that a cost-effective re-rate of the existing pumps could achieve the 45 bar MAWP. Access to Sulzer’s pump design and manufacturing expertise in Germany meant new, specialized components could be produced on reduced lead times, with the facility in Singapore acting as a localized focal point for the project and customer. The result was a complete turnkey approach that ensured optimal delivery.

The entire project was delivered in six months, well within the tight schedule of the wider plant revamp. As an additional benefit, the cost of the re-rate project was significantly lower than two new replacements by USD 200’000. Consequently, the plant was able to improve the process and boost yields while reducing expenditure. Rather than providing all-new units, Sulzer prioritized providing the customer with the best possible solution for its requirements. Furthermore, by choosing the retrofit solution instead of installing new machinery, the carbon footprint of the project was minimized, supporting the sustainability aims of the customer.

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