These predictive operations limit repair costs and reduce the risk of production downtime.
In a conventional steam production plant, 5 to 15% of the steam traps fail every year. When this happens, money and energy is wasted. Malfunctioning steam traps also create back pressure within the steam system, and cause process breakdowns and quality issues during production. In short, defective steam traps lead to unnecessary waste that can be avoided with simple, easy-to-perform, and semi-regular checkups.
Why should you monitor your steam traps? What are the negative key aspects if you don’t do it regularly?
1. Daily waste of money:
How much money could a hypothetical plant lose due to steam-energy loss brought on by a single steam trap that was left open? If the steam price were $10 per 1 000 pounds and the trap’s opening were 1/8 of an inch, the leak would be costing the plant $6 640 annually and leaking 75.8 pounds of steam each hour.
Given the US Department of Energy’s estimations, multiplying this issue by perhaps 10% of all steam traps at your plant, reveals that failing to properly examine them is probably costing your business a lot of money.
2. Increased risk of costly facility shutdowns:
Failures in steam traps can result in bigger equipment failures, which can stop all operations in a facility for several days.
In fact, a steam trap-related facility shutdown can ultimately cost a company millions of dollars in lost productivity in addition to many hundreds of thousands of dollars in direct repair expenditures.
3. Increased employee risk harm and legal exposure:
For the personnel working near the steam-system environment, steam leaks might result in heated pipes, frozen condensate, pipe breaks, and burns.
If your steam traps aren’t frequently inspected and maintained, it could endanger your employees, putting your business at a higher risk for lost productivity, higher medical costs, and possibly legal action.
4. Increased CO2 emissions:
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claims in its guidelines on lowering greenhouse gas emissions that maintaining steam traps can help businesses cut CO2 and other Greenhouse Gas emissions by up to 10%.
By failing to properly maintain them, your company is emitting considerably more carbon and possibly undermining Corporate Social Responsibility goals set for your organization.
The dangers could be much more serious than you imagine
“Clogged Valve in New York Steam Pipe Blast.” That headline appeared in a 2007 article by Reuters about an explosion that occurred beneath Grand Central Terminal in New York City and resulted in one fatality, numerous injuries, and “panic throughout Manhattan”.
Con Edison, the utility company in charge of the city’s steam distribution, claims that the explosion was brought on by a combination of clogging inside a steam trap and rainwater accumulation surrounding a pipe.
The catastrophe came with high costs, including millions of dollars in property damage, lawsuits, and human suffering. All as a result of a blocked steam trap that was unable to drain the extra water that was amassing inside the pipe.
The lesson learned is that your steam traps require constant, intelligent monitoring that can assess, and report to you in real-time, trap health and the possibility of a near-term failure.
Fortunately, steam pipe explosions are quite uncommon, but they are not the only threat to your steam system.