How to Fix More Leaks Without Adding a Lot of Extra Work
by Katie Reid, on Thu, Feb 21, 2019 @ 11:02 AM
Go-to strategies for maximizing the efficiency of your plant's fluid systems
Leaks are costly and create unnecessary downtime for your plant - let us help with our Swagelok Field Engineers and Services offerings. Download Swagelok's "Go-To Strategies For Maximizing the Efficiency of Your Plant's Fluid Systems" PDF below for strategies on optimizing your operations.
Most plant managers and engineers wish they had more resources to run their plants safely and efficiently, maximize production, reduce costs, and avoid downtime.
A big part of that is reducing leaks. Swagelok field engineers find leaks in the majority of plants we visit – and they can be a major drain on plant efficiency. Every hiss of escaping compressed air or steam reduces profitability and increases maintenance costs.
You may not have the resources, however, to address every leak in your plant at once. Here are a few go-to strategies we find effective for uncovering additional fluid system efficiencies (without adding a lot of extra work).
Pick your battles
To stay on course, you need a roadmap. Conduct a site audit that includes a root cause analysis and a detailed assessment of your plant’s fluid systems and components. Once the leaks have been identified, prioritize them based on factors such as size of the leak, rate of loss, and the process fluid.
For example, compressed air costs far less than argon. Even if your plant is losing 1,000 cubic feet of compressed air per day compared to only 100 cubic feet of argon per day, the argon leak is costing thousands of dollars more and should be a priority.
The longer a component performs reliably, the less time your maintenance staff will need to spend making repairs.
When a component requires frequent repairs or replacement, Swagelok field engineers often discover it’s not the right product for the application. This could be due to a number of reasons:
- The component is not designed for its intended function.
- The component is not made with the right materials.
- The component does not have the service life potential required for the design specifications.
Specifying the right component at the outset – or making a strategic change later based on your operational history – can save you a lot of maintenance hours while increasing up-time.
Simplify the design
Choosing fully fabricated fluid system assemblies instead of individual components can also simplify your design and assembly operations, adding efficiency. This also helps create a fully documented system, making it easier to acquire and assemble parts, as well as ensure consistency across facilities.
Here is a simple example: A plant’s staff needs to assemble a standard sampling system with 135 different part numbers, requiring about 54 hours of assembly time. Building the same system with pre-assembled modules would only require 17 part numbers and about 6 hours of assembly time. That's nearly a 90 percent reduction in assembly time, freeing up 48 hours of resources for other critical tasks.
Even with the right components, equipment failure can happen. That’s why it’s a good idea to keep an inventory of spare parts on-site. The list should include parts that are critical to a process and to safety, as well as specialty components with long lead times. A vendor managed inventory program can also bring peace of mind. Asking your supplier to organize, stock, and maintain your spare parts inventory means one less task for your team.
The strategies are reasonably simple and cost-effective, but the rewards may be significant.
For help with fluid system assemblies, product selection, or vendor-managed inventory, message us below - we're ready to help!