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When your job is sanitization, there is no wash & “try.” For Sunburst Chemicals, clean means business. This Minneapolis-based, family-owned business is a leader in commercial cleaning and sanitation chemicals.
One of their primary markets is commercial laundry for the healthcare and hospitality industries. They develop and produce the chemical compounds that help ensure customers’ linens are free of pathogens and bacteria. The chemicals are used in commercial washing machines called tunnel washers that put linens through several wash cycles with different chemicals injected at various points to eliminate anything that could impact the health of the next user.
Tunnel washers have long used peristaltic pumps to dispense chemicals at specific points throughout the wash cycle because they are effcient. And, in Sunburst Chemical’s case, the trade-off for efficiency was maintenance. Sunburst was seeing a high number of field failures.
One of the main reasons for the failures? The tubing. Peristaltic pumps utilize synthetic tubing. This tubing doesn’t stand up well to the repeated use of so many different chemicals. Technicians would need to be dispatched to customer locations for repairs quite frequently. This created substantial downtimes for those customers. And, doing preventative maintenance meant bi-weekly visits; which translated into a disruption for customers and higher expenses for Sunburst.
Pumptec knew they could help reduce maintenance costs by developing a system that could reliably handle both the tunnel washers’ heavy-duty cycles and the use of several different chemical compounds.
To start, Pumptec recommended plunger pumps instead of peristaltic pumps. Their engineers started with the 114T polypropylene pump with a 24V motor, added hastelloy (nickel-based steel alloy) valves and ceramic plungers, and then constructed several prototypes utilizing various elastomer, plunger, and valve materials that would meet Sunburst’s stringent specifications.
The result was a complete pump control system that would stand up to the rigorous duty cycle and the precision infusion of the five different chemicals it used. And, the controller could be operated from anywhere in the world. The system was tested and evaluated for over five years before being placed in the field. During that time, the prototype ran over two million cycles without failure.
With new Pumptec pump control system, reliability has increased more than tenfold. Sunburst Chemicals has gone from having to do bi-weekly maintenance to doing simple annual maintenance. They’re also able to address many of the intermittent issues quickly using remote access. As a result, they’ve seen a substantial reduction in system downtime for customers and significant reductions in maintenance and repair costs.