Reliable operations secured at Michigan Sugar with Flowrox™ valves and pumps

Sep 5, 2023

It is obvious that for the process to work efficiently and without problems, it is necessary to choose the right equipment in the right places for the process. This once again proved to be true, when Michigan Sugar was facing problems with valves in a well-oiled, meticulous system that was getting jammed up by a simple cast-iron butterfly valve. Another problem they faced was with pumping calcium. The plates of the pump were wearing out too fast and the costs were thus unbearable. 

Finding reliable operations and easy maintenance services 

Ten years ago, Valmet experts for Flowrox products were presented with several issues at a few of the Michigan sugar plants. One was a well-oiled, meticulous system that was jammed up by a simple cast-iron butterfly valve with an EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) sleeve. The valve helped regulate the two-inch “milk of lime” line, which contained a mixture of sugar juice and lime. The milk of lime is a gritty texture that was eating away at the liner of the butterfly valve, which was holding up production every two weeks, sometimes even once a day.

By choosing Flowrox products, the sugar plant was able to greatly lower their maintenance costs.

The other issue the plants faced included a hydra cell pump, a type of sulfate slurry diaphragm pump to move calcium that operates at around 65ºC / 150ºF. This application helps dewater the pulp, which in turn reduces drying time. The plant was wearing out the stainless-steel plates for €1,800 / $2,000 every six weeks.

Michigan sugar was in critical need of a reliable and effective solution. They were recommended to try out Flowrox products that are known to hold up in the demanding production conditions that span across a wide range of industries including sugar production, mining, oil, and gas, as well as chemical and wastewater treatment plants, among many others.




Close cooperation for best solutions  

Increased valve sleeve lifespan of nine months full months of sugar season

Our flow control experts recommend the plants run a trial run with a Flowrox pinch valve. Our pinch valve has an enclosed body type and includes an SBRT (Styrene butadiene) valve sleeve to meet the requirements of various mediums in different process areas. All Flowrox PV, PVE, and PVE/S heavy-duty pinch valves are designed for shut-off and control applications involving abrasive or corrosive slurries, powders, or granular substances. In the open position, the valve is a full bore with no flow restrictions. During closing, two pinch bars squeeze the valve sleeve shut on the center line. Which creates a 100% -tight shut-off that is provided even if solids have built up on the sleeve wall. This design not only allows the customer to control how much media flows downstream but also increased the lifespan from days to three months.  

Although Michigan Sugar was ecstatic that they could save time and money in labor hours from changing out each valve, and downtime for the plant, we knew we could provide a better solution. Reducing the port sleeve from 50 mm / 2 inches to 32 mm / 1 ¼ inches allowed for an increased sleeve lifespan of nine months full months of sugar season! The word quickly spread to other plant locations who then also installed Flowrox pinch valves.

Moving calcium with a Flowrox pump

This industry-changing solution allowed us to look at other problems Michigan Sugar faced such as using a hydra pump to move calcium. We suggested that they try out our Flowrox peristaltic pump; however, this is not an off-the-shelf item, so we produced a custom hose pump. 

Flowrox products at Michigan Sugar
Flowrox pumps provide long service intervals and ease of maintenance as the pump hose is the only replaceable part and can be easily changed on site

After gathering the necessary information, such as media, flow characteristics, hours of operations, pressure, etc. we recommended an LPP-T40/LPP-T1.5GM pump. This pump is ideal for heavy industrial activities and can stand abrasive, corrosive, and viscous materials. With limited contact with the hose, the sugar beet pulp has less opportunity to wear out other parts of the pump, which reduces future high repair costs. 





Expert knowledge paired with decades of experience.

Valmet is a global leader in flow control solutions and services. Our valves, valve automation technologies, and pumps are known for quality, reliability, and the highest safety protocols. Our customers operate in various process industries. In addition to Flowrox valves and pumps, Valmet also has other flow control solutions for sugar processing, e.g. Jamesbury™ Wafer-Sphere™ high-performance butterfly valves; they are well-suited and cost effective for many of the sugar process applications, such as steam, juice, and evaporators. Our offering also includes Neles™ E-series ceramic ball control valves, Neles™ R-series V-port segment valves, Neles Linear globe valves We also offer best-in-class actuation and controller products such as Neles NDX™ and Stonel™ Axiom AN on/off valve controllers.

For more information, contact Todd Keefer:

This article was originally published in Pumps & Systems magazine, September 2023 issue.

In a nutshell

Customer: Michigan Sugar

Flowrox products in four plants: 
1.    40 heavy duty PVE pinch valves
2.    4 LPP-D peristaltic pumps
3.    2 FXM metering pumps
4.    1 LPP-T peristaltic pump

1. Regulating “milk of lime” line, containing a mixture of sugar juice and lime. 
2. Calcium pumping

Benefits: No jamming. High reliability and corrosion resistance. Low operating costs.

Michigan Sugar is the third-largest sugar beet processor in the U.S., they produce 1.2 billion pounds (about 544.3 million kg) of sugar annually. They operate 24/7 for six to eight months out of the year, and their systems are always changing. What may have worked last season may not work this season, as the sugar content is always different from year to year based on the soil and the rain conditions. The changing conditions during the sugar season cause line failures that can slow down production which causes costly repairs. 

Flowrox™ – Industry-leading products with a new identity. In July 2023 Flowrox valves and pumps started to ship in blue.

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