A nationally recognized, not-for-profit hospital serving eastern Los Angeles and western San Bernardino counties worked with Cortech Engineering in April 2014 to address a persistent pump problem. With offices in Yorba Linda, San Diego and Bakersfield, Cortech Engineering provides reliable, specialty equipment with comprehensive engineering and support services to a variety of industries throughout Southern and Central California and Nevada.
Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center, which is staffed by about 800 physicians and twice as many nurses, is a 437-bed hospital that relies on 7 sewage ejection pits to collect waste from the hospital complex. These sewage ejection pits were responsible for pumping the waste material out of the buildings and into the municipal sewer system. Like many other hospitals across the U.S., they were having problems with “disposable” wipes. The pumps operating in their sewage ejection pits were consistently becoming clogged with “disposable” wipes and other materials which are not designed to be flushed through a sewage system.
Between 2008 and 2014, the sewage ejection pumps needed to be rebuilt and replaced several times. “Clogs happen at all times of the year – they don’t care whether it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s Eve. When the pumps get clogged, the maintenance team has to act quickly to keep the system working,” explains Karen Deshler, Outside Sales Engineer for Cortech Engineering. “When the pumps become clogged, the hospital has to bring in extra maintenance staff and incur higher expenses during off shifts and holidays. They were spending between $4500 and $8500 each time they had to bring in a super sucker vacuum truck to remove the solids from the sewage ejection pits. Over time, and with repeated incidents, this became quite costly.”
Peter Kersten, Stationary Engineer for PVHMC, began conducting research on all the grinder and shredder pumps that were available on the market. During his search, he came across the BJM Submersible Shredder Pump videos on YouTube. Impressed by the video demonstrating the pump’s ability to shred almost anything, including rubber chickens and running shoes, he presented the BJM Pumps to his bosses, Eldon Screws and Emilio Franco, knowing they would agree that the BJM Pumps would meet their criteria requirments:
- The pumps MUST be able to shred the disposable wipes and rags that were pushed into the sewage ejection pits. The sewage ejection pits needed to stay clear of fibrous, floating debris to prevent clogs and avoid emergency situations.
- The pumps MUST be able to operate reliably to avoid extra maintenance expenses.
Once contacted by the PVHMC staff, Deshler assured them that they could replace the failed pumps with BJM SK Shredder series pumps that were better suited for handling the wipes and rags that were mixed in with the sewage. After a site visit by Mark Fox, Cortech Service Manager, to view the area where his team would install the pumps, Mark worked together with Deshler as she selected the right SK pumps for the hospital’s 16-foot deep sewage ejection pits.
Deshler recommended the BJM SK55C Submersible Shredder Pump, which can handle up to 3.5-inch solids at 570 gallons per minute with a maximum of 59 feet of head. She explained the following key features in her recommendation:
• Engineered to shred solids, the SK55C utilizes a cutting impeller with a Tungsten Carbide Tip to continuously rip apart solids against a tooth-edged spiral-shaped diffuser plate. With 360-degree shredding action and non-clog, single vane impellers, the SK55C clearly had the capability to shred the disposable wipes and rags that were pushed through the sewage ejection pits.
• Tough pump construction includes hardened cast iron to withstand rough handling and a 304 stainless steel motor housing, which offers abrasion resistance that is superior to aluminum motor housings.
• Built with “Three Seal Motor Protection”, the SK55C motor is protected with double mechanical seals, which are comprised of a lower seal made of silicon carbide/silicon carbide and upper seal faces made of carbon/ceramic. An additional lip seal is installed above the impeller to help prevent unwanted materials from entering the seal chamber.
• Utilizing winding protection and (NEMA) Class F motor insulation, the SK55C is superior to pumps with Class A and B insulation because the (NEMA) Class F motor insulation allows the motor temperature to raise up to 230°F. An automatic switch turns the pump motor off if the temperature and/or amp draw raises too high. When the motor cools, the switch is designed to automatically reset and the pump will once again begin operating.
• The Seal Minder® Moisture Detection System that comes with the SK55C provides additional protection which would help the hospital’s maintenance staff avoid emergencies. The Seal Minder® is a sensor probe inside the oil chamber that can provide an early warning to protect the pump motor. When the seal failure circuit, or moisture detection circuit, is properly connected to a control panel, it informs the pump operator that there is moisture within the oil chamber. This early warning can allow the operator to schedule repair and inspection on the pump.
Once the PVHMC decision makers were on board, two of the SK55C Submersible Shredder Pumps were installed in a duplex arrangement inside the 16-foot deep sewage ejection pit. During installation, under Fox’s direction, Cortech’s on-site technicians installed a lifting chain, electrical wiring to a 15-amp breaker for the duplex control panel and Seal Minder® relay, and new stainless steel check valves. “The lifting chain makes it easier for us to hoist the pumps for inspection and maintenance,” explains Kersten. “The BJM control panel alerts the staff in case there is a problem, which will help to prevent a burnout. The stainless steel check valves are an added bonus. Cortech recommended the new valves for increased reliability because they will last much longer than the previous cast iron valves.”
With 15 months of successful operation, the BJM SK55C Submersible Shredding Pumps are demolishing the disposable wipes and keeping the 16-foot deep sewage ejection pit operating smoothly. “The maintenance staff appreciates the decrease in calls for middle-of-the-night and holiday emergencies, and those managing the maintenance budget are happy to save money they’d been spending on the vacuum truck,” states Deshler. Kersten adds, “I’m so glad the BJM Pumps are reliable. Last Christmas was the first one I’ve had off in over three years! No more calls at 2 a.m. to unclog a pump.”
The hospital is in the process of purchasing 4 more BJM Pumps from Cortech for use in 2 other sewer ejector pits. “It’s a great feeling to know you’ve helped someone and actually solved a huge problem for them,” declares Deshler. While disposable wipes are the root cause of many clogging issues for pumps operating in hospitals across the country, it is important to know that there are special pumps that have been engineered to solve these problems. “We’re not in the business of selling pumps,” declares Keith Grgurich, Director of Sales at BJM Pumps, “we design and manufacture pumps to solve people’s problems.”