19 Oct 2018

7 Questions To Ask Yourself When Heating Needs Come Up At Your Manufacturing Plant

Manufacturing plant

Do you have a plan in place for heating your facility during a planned shutdown or, worse, an unexpected failure? Have you thought through all the possibilities, including what you’ll do if the boiler goes down? How will you keep things running with minimal loss of productivity? What kind of heating equipment will you need to get back up and running safely and effectively? Will you be able to do all this without racking up huge fuel bills?

No doubt all these fears start running through your head the moment you realize you’ve lost, or will lose, access to your existing heating setup. At times like these, you need to stay laser-focused on the most important issues, in order to seize complete control of the situation. 

Take a deep breath and work your way through these seven questions:

1.   How Will I Distribute the Heat Effectively?

Here’s the problem: if you set up a traditional indirect heater in just one part of your plant, it’s tricky to get that heat circulating around the whole building. You don’t want to overdo it by pumping out too much heat in one area and you certainly don’t want other parts of your plant to get cold.
Typically, people deal with this by using fans to move the warm air around, but it doesn’t always work out well. You’ll still struggle to get an even ambient temperature across the whole facility. 
A much better option is to use a hydronic heater, which allows you to create a number of distribution points all around your manufacturing facility. These can be scaled up or down according to the size of the area and help ensure that you get the same temperature wherever you are in the building.

2.   How Will I Make it Energy Efficient?

Energy efficiency is vital for two reasons. 
Firstly, fuel is expensive. If you don’t find a way to curb consumption, this will quickly spiral, pushing up operating costs and eating into your profit margins. That means you need to find an efficient way to transfer heat. 

Secondly, there’s the issue of emissions. As well as being bad for the environment, opting for a system that spits out a lot of nasty fumes could get you into trouble with environmental agencies, or even land you a fine. 
Think carefully about the kind of equipment you go for. It might be temporary, but it still makes a huge difference. You could, for example, choose a hydronic heating system, achieving 83% fuel efficiency while lowering your TCO and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  

3.   What If the Boiler Is Out of Action?

You may very reasonably ask yourself, how does temporary heating work if our boiler is down or undergoing maintenance? Luckily, there’s an easy way around this by using a boiler-bypass heating system (also called a hydronic heating system).

As explained above, these provide an extremely cost-effective way to heat water, (either potable or non-potable), over a temporary period. You can bring this onto the site quickly in an emergency, while incorporating one into your planned maintenance plan helps ensure against interruptions to services or ongoing operations.

What’s more, using a boiler-bypass system alongside a plate exchanger allows you to tap into the facility’s water system directly. You can use separate plate exchangers for non-potable and potable applications. 

4.   How Will I Prevent Against Mold?

Damp is a serious problem when using direct-fired, open-flame heaters. These warm up the area, but they also discharge  large amounts of water. This moisture can damage products or equipment, or create the perfect conditions for mildew and mold in the facility. Either way, it’s bad news. 
A good way to prevent against this is to opt for a hydronic heating system. These strip out airborne moisture by pumping in dry air, helping to ensure that your heating solution doesn’t become part of the problem for your manufacturing operations.

5.   What About Ventilation?

Ventilation is an important part of ensuring worker safety and it’s crucial that your provider understands this. Many temporary heaters vent into the work environment, which is less than ideal for your team. Look out for systems that vent into the atmosphere and don’t require extra ventilation equipment for noxious gas.

6.   How Do I Know if I Can Depend on the Temporary Solution?

If you’re going to all this trouble, you need to know that this system won’t fail on you as well! 

Firstly, opt for large-scale heaters that spread the risk across two burners, so that even if one goes down, the other keeps going. Units that let you switch between two types of fuel with no loss of productivity are also a wise choice, as are those that incorporate a backup fuel feature, guaranteeing supply even if the primary source is disconnected.

Of course, no matter how great the technology, there’s always a chance something could go wrong. That’s why it makes sense to rent your equipment from a company that also monitors its performance remotely, keeping an eye on any problems and responding 24/7 if things don’t go to plan.

7.   How Do I Avoid Halting Production?

It’s entirely possible to switch to a temporary heating solution with little or no downtime.
In particular, boiler-bypass systems are a great option to bring in at short notice because they are safe to use and don’t incur extra compliance work to get up and running. If you’re using a boiler-based heating system, on the other hand, you need certification tickets and a third-party-certified boiler technician on hand around the clock, which can slow you down.
When you have a maintenance shutdown or turnaround scheduled in advance, it’s a good idea to speak to a temporary specialist that can visit your facility and figure out exactly what’s best for your situation. They can then have a high capacity, temporary heating system, and any other equipment you need, lined up and ready for a smooth and easy switch.
Even if you don’t have a shutdown in the works, it’s a really good idea to bring in an expert anyway. That way, if problems spring up unexpectedly, you and your temporary specialist are already prepared for how to handle it.
Of course, you might be reading this thinking: “Hindsight is great and everything, but my plant went down an hour ago. What now?” 

Don’t panic! Get on the phone to a company with experience and expertise when it comes to providing temporary heating for the manufacturing sector. While there will be a small blip before you get up and running, the right company will load in and set up a backup solution within days or even hours, safeguarding your plant and your profits.