2016 marks the 125 year anniversary for one of Weir Minerals’ long standing brands – Lewis® pumps. In this time Weir Minerals Lewis Pumps has developed an international reputation in the design and manufacture of pumps and valves in the sulphur, sulphuric acid and phosphoric acid industries.
“It is an honour to be celebrating 125 years of developing and manufacturing our Lewis pump range in this ever-changing industry. We have witnessed many challenges and opportunities throughout our history and continue to advance to meet the demands of our markets,” said Weir Minerals, divisional director EHS/VCE Bob Elliott, who is also former managing director of Weir Minerals Lewis Pumps.
Back in 1891, Charles S Lewis founded a company called Chas S Lewis and Co, Inc, a family business that adopted alloy customisation methods to furnish custom OEM pump lines to the beer pasteurisation and bottle cleaning industries. In 1906 the company commenced manufacturing pumps in-house and later developed and manufactured its first sulphuric acid pump in 1914, beginning a specialisation which has continued to the present day.
This specialisation in sulphuric acid equipment continued and, in 1975, the company manufactured its first sulphuric acid valve.
The company became part of the Weir Group in 1994. Weir’s well established manufacturing excellence programs were implemented at Lewis resulting in even greater level of quality and performance.
In 2012, the first Lewis molten salt pump was manufactured. These highly engineered centrifugal pumps are integral to a molten salt systems circulation in the solar power industry.
“We have developed a full range of pumps engineered for the unique requirements of molten salt. With over 100 years of experience focused on high density and high temperature we have been able to develop a pump which has a superior feature set to provide high reliability and low operating costs,” said Bob Elliott.
Today, after 125 years’ experience, Weir Minerals Lewis Pumps still manufactures this wide range of Lewis pumps and valves, and has made significant investment to develop and enhance its product line to better serve the industries in which it operates.
“In recent years we have added gate, globe and butterfly valves with our proprietary Lewmet alloy, proven to be highly effective in sulphuric acid pumps,” said Weir Minerals Lewis Pumps vice president sales and marketing Ken Black.
With customers in more than 100 countries, careful manufacturing planning, identifying the most requested spare parts and ensuring stock is constantly replenished for the needed items, is the key focus for satisfying customers.
This in-depth project involves collecting and collating spare parts usage data to truly understand customers’ requirements and actively stocking items that will meet customers’ expectations during emergency situations. To ensure successful implementation, Weir adopted a LEAN manufacturing strategy to access and share global best practices and training between all Weir factories.
“Our most recent improvement efforts include moving 92% of all factory equipment into product cells, linking our most requested spare parts into new replenishment techniques, creating close bonds with key suppliers and reducing the overall lead-time with an eye on strengthening spares availability,” said Ken Black.
Weir Minerals Lewis Pumps recently invested in the modification of its test stand area for axial flow pump testing. This enables engineers to test all pumps extensively, under real-life working conditions, before they leave the facility.
In addition, they have opened a new distribution centre, which is 42,000 square feet of manufacturing and office space, allowing them to manufacture, assemble and ship Weir Minerals Lewis Pumps’ products to customers around the world with ease.
Weir Minerals Lewis Pumps president William Charles Stone said, “Throughout the last 125 years, we have remained dedicated to the market and the customers we serve and this can be witnessed through the evolution of our Lewis pumps and valves. Our product innovations and dedicated group of employees will not only provide better service to our valued customers but will enable us to continue to deliver solutions to our customers for another 125 years and beyond.”