Modifying abatement equipment on the move

In light of the recent trend for manufacturers to move their production base, Paul Farrington, managing director of Haden Drysys Environmental discusses the benefits of moving oxidisers both in the UK and abroad.

It is a fact of life that there are a lot of changes currently happening in UK manufacturing industry. The trend in the industry over the last twelve months, in Haden Drysys Environmental’s experience, has been to consolidate, often with a view to achieving more cost-effective production. This inevitably leads to the movement of production facilities both within the UK and abroad. When it comes to moving some companies have not realised that it is also possible to move the oxidiser treating the exhaust gases from their process. An increasing percentage of Haden Drysys’ work has become moving and updating companies’ oxidisers in response to a move of manufacturing base. Often we are asked to quote for a new oxidiser when our clients are moving and they are surprised when we offer to move and update their current oxidiser. While our core business is selling new equipment, our ability to move and upgrade oxidisers has created a growing demand that now represents a significant proportion of our UK business.

Factors to consider

There are a number of factors to consider when planning to move your oxidiser. The first is the required performance from the oxidiser when it is moved into the new production facility. When the original oxidiser was purchased it will have been designed to treat emissions from specific production processes. During a consolidation or expansion the oxidiser needs to be optimised for its new role. Often there is a general misconception that all oxidisers are the same. This is not true. Like a car they are all designed to achieve different purposes and all have different running costs. Purchasing a sports coupe just to take your children to school would cost a fortune in running costs and petrol consumption in comparison to a people carrier. The same is true in an engineering sense. You’d be forgiven for thinking an oxidiser is an oxidiser and it might look like it’s the right application. But, even if it handles the right volume of exhaust gases if it’s doing it in the wrong way, you’re buying a pup. Unfortunately Haden has seen several companies purchase oxidisers without consideration for their operating costs or optimising it for its role. Paying attention to running costs is equally as relevant when considering moving your oxidiser.

Moving and optimising your oxidiser requires engineering expertise both in terms of optimising the system but also importantly moving it safely. When one company moved an oxidiser using a general engineering contractor some basic mistakes were made, through lack of knowledge and experience of the oxidiser’s operation, resulting in the oxidiser catching fire within a week of its move. It then required an expensive major refurbishment.

Total solution

Recently Haden Drysys moved an oxidiser from London to Pittsburgh in the USA. Haden provided a total solution that included managing the disassembly, transportation and reassembly in the states. This particular oxidiser was built on the roof of a manufacturing facility. The first task was to dismantle the oxidiser on the roof of the London facility. The oxidiser was carefully disassembled into the correct number of constituent transportable parts and packed for ocean shipment. While the oxidiser was still treating the same volume of exhaust gas the constituents of the gas had changed dramatically and the running costs in its new application would have been horrendous. Therefore the oxidiser was redesigned and optimised, while still keeping the original footprint and base metal work. The existing electrical systems were used and changed to meet US standards and the ductwork was also modified for the new application. Following the rebuilding and installation of the oxidiser it was thoroughly checked to ensure it met US safety codes and would operate safely, efficiently, reliably and economically in its new environment.

Moving and optimising an oxidiser’s performance is not inexpensive but is cheaper than building and installing a new oxidiser. While simply moving the oxidiser without modifying it, where modification is necessary, might seem like an even cheaper option this will prove expensive in the long term. The average payback on optimising an oxidiser is short as high running costs associated with fuel consumption are predictable.

As a result of the Climate Change levy more companies are looking hard at their energy consumption and a poorly performing oxidiser can have a significant effect on your energy usage. End of pipe solutions can, when designed wrongly, make a huge addition to your energy usage. A great deal of our optimisation work is helping lots of companies take 5-10 per cent out of their total energy usage costs. This applies to companies who want their oxidisers optimised even when they are not necessarily moving location. During a move we will redesign the customer’s oxidiser so it does what they want it to do in its new application rather than what it is currently designed for. There may be some equipment changes necessary to do that but the overall desire is to give the customer a more effective piece of kit in the final analysis.

Tightening legislation

With tightening legislation there is also a trend for companies to look at optimising their oxidisers following significant changes in both the UK legislation and changes in production capacity. With the initial environmental legislation in the 1990s came a lot of abatement equipment that was bought in a hurry with the lowest capital cost to get compliant being the key consideration with a ‘hang the running cost’ attitude.

So, if you are currently looking at moving your production facility it is worthwhile examining the potential for moving and modifying your current oxidiser. It can certainly save you money providing that you use a specialist with the relevant engineering skill so that your installation is safe, cost-effective and reliable. Equally if your production has changed since you bought your oxidiser it is also worth considering how much energy it is using and whether it could be made to operate more efficiently.

Haden Drysys Environmental reports increasing numbers of new clients keen to ensure their oxidiser will meet new VOC abatement compliance under the new regime. A wrongly designed oxidiser is a huge energy eater and there are modifications that can be made so its operation ceases to be costly and becomes cost-effective. There is money to be saved and when you’re moving facilities or changing production capacity it’s a good time to consider what you can do to optimise your oxidiser.

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