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A Custom Soybean Oil Extractor Project Poses Challenges, Ends Successfully

An agribusiness facility in Bainbridge, PA, contracted with GSM Industrial to provide and install parts for a soybean oil extractor and modify the extractor and associated systems.

The work marked the first time in three-and-a-half years that anyone had been inside the extractor to perform measurements and modifications, which presented some challenges—but our team was ready!

The Scope of Work for this Soybean Oil Extractor

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The required modifications for this job were based on “sight-unseen guesstimates” by the customer’s engineering staff, as well as issues that had been noted during and after the startup of the extractor. Plus, most of the work had to be completed in a confined space and involved welding both carbon steel and stainless steel.

The scope of work for this soybean oil extractor project included:

  • Inspecting and adjusting the lower bearing in the housing to achieve proper bearing and cage seating. These were taken to eliminate existing leaks.
  • Adjusting the gear mesh and backlash of the rotating mechanisms. This process included removing shims to lower the height of the 13,520-pound drive motor assembly and support structure.
  • Relocating the vent piping outlet to achieve better vacuum performance for hexane extraction.
  • Freeing up 16 safety rollers that were stuck. These safety rollers were designed to catch the cage assembly if there was a lower bearing failure.
  • Adjusting the sweeper heights on the lower cage area to ensure solids can sweep into the appropriate outlet conveyor.

The GSM Industrial team provided and installed custom shims, custom miscella diverters, and stainless steel diverter screens. We also replaced and relocated 12″ Vent and Schedule-10 stainless-steel vent piping. The extractor basket, weighing 107,000 pounds, had to be lifted several inches to adjust its set-up. The job took 692 man-hours of work and was completed in eight days, during our customer’s shutdown period.

Conditions Necessary for this Soybean Oil Extractor’s Success

GSM Industrial proactively planned to address all potential safety issues and critical path items to manage and complete the project successfully. Daily coordination took place between the shop and field project management teams, and our crews worked around the clock for several days to ensure we would finish ahead of schedule.

As we made adjustments throughout the project, the GSM crew checked them for accuracy, and then the customer’s technical representative double-checked them.

This project involved shop fabrication, on-site welding of both carbon and stainless steel metals—as well as heavy millwrighting on a large piece of equipment. Flexibility was a requirement to respond to the changing scope of work. The field crew, in particular, adapted to frequently shifting priorities and schedules.

After the project’s completion, the customer verified that all testing and final checks performed on the soybean oil extractor were successful, and no leaks were present.

“GSM safely performed the work inside of the extractor well under the time allotted to them and with no need for rework. We were pleased with their workmanship and professionalism!”

Soybean Plant Manager

GSM Industrial Proved a Few Things with this Soybean Oil Extractor Project

As our customers will tell you, we welcome all things dirty, dangerous, and difficult—and this job was no different. There were no measurements, a confined space, existing leaks, broken parts, more than one type of metal, and what may have seemed like an impossible timeline for some companies.

But we got the job done with time to spare, with no leaks detected and no rework needed. This kind of result is what GSM Industrial is all about—getting it done and getting it done right!