At first glance, a California dairy farm wouldn’t seem to be a corrosive environment for manure pumps. But as San Joaquin Valley Dairy Equipment has discovered, it can eat them alive if they are not lubricated properly.
According to Ubaldo Rodriguez, who manages the company’s manure department and services 30 dairies in California’s Central Valley, the combination of manure and sand to which these pumps are exposed can drastically shorten the life of their bearings.
“When water gets inside the bearings, that causes rust. When that happens, the pump fails,” he explains. “Sand is also very hard on bearings.” Hydrogen sulfide gas produced by the manure can also be very corrosive to metals and concrete. That makes it even more important to protect pump bearings in this challenging environment.
Each dairy has a pond behind it, from which water is pumped to the cow stalls to flush manure and other debris out of them on a daily basis. This slurry is collected and pumped to a manure pit, where it is passed through screens to separate the water from the manure. The water is recycled back to the stalls for flushing. A small amount of sand, which is mixed in with the manure and water, comes from the floors of the cattle stalls.
San Joaquin Valley Dairy Equipment supplies pumps and agitators to circulate the manure in these ponds. The pumps are mounted to stainless steel frames that sit just above the pit. They are connected to impellers and agitators that circulate the manure so it can be screened. They run 17 to 18 hours a day.
We don’t have to worry about someone watching over the pumps. They get lubricated whether we are there or not.Ubaldo Rodriguez
In the past, Rodriguez and his crew manually lubricated these pump bearings on a once a month basis. The dairy where he worked had 25 pumps, which didn’t always get lubricated as often as they should. “Sometimes workers weren’t as diligent as they should be about lubricating them consistently,” he points out. As a result, they failed on a regular basis.
“When I first started here, my predecessor had installed MEMOLUB HPS480 automatic lubricators on several of the manure pumps to evaluate them. I immediately saw the benefit of them, and ordered them for the rest of the pumps,” Rodriguez recalls. They are installed in a multipoint setup, with one lubricator servicing one or two pumps.
The HPS480 is a battery-powered, electromechanical lubricator. Its constant 350 psi lubricant output pressure enables it to be direct mounted, remote mounted up to 40 feet away from a loop point or it can be used with a progressive distribution block to lubricate from two to 12 lubrication points. It is self-contained with no external wiring required.
This model of automatic lubricator is easily programmed using a set of 3 timing rings. To fine-tune the lubricant output, you can adjust the piston stroke by installing spacer washers into the fitting in its base, yielding a total of 52 output settings. Once it is set and installed, the program is retained in the fitting. That means when a new cartridge is installed, the unit doesn’t have to be reprogrammed. That saves Rodriguez’s field technicians a lot of time and hassle.
“These units are timed to dispense 10 ml of lubricant every hour, which enables them to last exactly one month before the cartridges need to be replaced,” he explains. He adds that the consistent frequency and volume of lubrication to the pump bearings have significantly increased their life expectancy.
“We don’t have to worry about someone watching over the pumps. They get lubricated whether we are there or not,” Rodriguez explains.
The MEMOLUB lubricators have worked so well in this application during the last 10 years that Rodriguez has sold them as part of a manure pumping package to 30 other farms in the region. As part of his maintenance agreement with them, a technician visits each farm once a month to replace the lube cartridges.
“The MEMOLUB lubricators are simple, durable and easy to program. What more could you ask for?”