John Crane’s Global Service Repairs Ailing Dry Gas Seal Despite International Flu Crisis

On a Tuesday in June 2009, a major refinery in Chile contacted John Crane Chile S.A. about a compressor problem at its processing facility. Due to complications with the compressor, it had to be taken offline, and the seals needed repair. The compressor was vital to the plant‘s operation, and without the compressor the majority of the processing system had to be shutdown. In most cases, when a refinery goes down, the result can be a loss of a half-million dollars per day.

Although the plant usually has spare seals on hand, in this instance, the spare seals were out for repair at John Crane’s United States headquarters in Morton Grove, Ill. Repairing the remaining seal as soon as possible was crucial to getting the plant online. Plant personnel requested that a John Crane technician from the U.S. travel to Chile to repair the seals onsite, which would not have been a problem, except for the outbreak of the H1N1 flu. In June 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) was reporting more than 100 countries stricken with the H1N1 flu, with most of the cases in the U.S., Mexico and Canada. Over 4,000 cases of the flu were reported in Chile, more than in any of its South American neighbors. Although “Chile is coping well with the epidemic,” according to Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, travel between the United States and Chile was curtailed.

To solve the customer’s problem, John Crane quickly went into action using its global service and support network to repair the seal. John Crane’s global resources allow it to react immediately to an emergency anywhere in the world where its seals and products are used. The company has been a presence in Chile for 23 years, and has more seals installed in Chile than all other mechanical seal suppliers combined.

“Because of our ability to react quickly in a global emergency,” said Joe Delrahim, Director, Dry Gas Seals for Latin America, “we were able to come up with a plan that used John Crane’s technical knowledge, industry expertise and web-based communication tools.” The plan involved engineers and sales representatives from John Crane’s Santiago, Chile office and engineers in the Morton Grove office.

“Even though we don’t have a dry gas seal repair facility in Chile, we were confident enough that with our local resources and the technical know-how of our people, we would be able to fix the seal at our regular John Crane facility in Chile,” Delrahim said. “If the seal was sent here, it would have taken two-to-three weeks to repair, including the time in transit. Since we couldn’t travel to Chile due to the flu restrictions, we had to repair the seals in Chile with guidance from our Morton Grove office.”


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