What steps should I take to reduce boilerhouse downtime?

Boilerhouse downtime graphic

Darren Silverthorn, Technical Specialist, 28/07/2020

Keeping a boilerhouse running can be demanding, and that’s before you think about rising energy costs, increasing operational costs and the push to reduce carbon emissions.


However, you can take the pressure off yourself with a few easy steps, allowing you to maximise uptime, reduce running costs and ensure safe boilerhouse operations, while remaining in compliance with plant standards and regulatory requirements. These steps are detailed below.


  1. Identifying losses


As the old saying goes, ‘knowledge is power’, and in this case, I mean it literally. Knowing what factors affect boilerhouse performance, including energy losses, is important for improving efficiency and reducing downtime. Yet these can be hard to identify –you only know what you know, and rely on the right tools to show you how your boilerhouse performs on a day-to-day basis.


Without the right equipment, a situation can arise where there is a big difference between what stakeholders think is happening with their system, and what is actually occurring. For instance, I’ve visited sites where boilerhouse managers thought they were working at efficiency levels 15% higher than they actually were.


That’s clearly a big gap which we need to do something about, so it’s vitally important that use equipment to identify all factors behind this expensive energy loss. This includes such losses as blowdown, carryover, flash, combustion, radiation and condensate losses.


  1. Carrying out small actions

Taking small actions can make a big difference to your installation’s overall performance. To help you identify where you can make changes to your plant to improve performance and reduce downtime, I’ve put together A Guide to Identifying the True Efficiency of Your Boilerhouse,’ detailing eight areas where you can take action and make savings.


The guide also looks at several points where losses may occur, and how these can be turned into opportunities to improve efficiency and uptime. By limiting these losses, you can reduce other expenses around excess fuel, energy and maintenance, improving total cost of ownership.


  1. Investing in energy monitoring systems


When I meet customers, they are always telling me how unexpected and unplanned downtime is making it difficult to keep their costs down and their boilerhouse running. Energy monitoring systems can help minimise these concerns, as they provide detailed energy efficiency readings that help inform where remedial work may be required before they become a major issue.


Previously, you needed to invest in expensive Building Management Systems (BMS) to guarantee this level of accuracy. Such systems allow plant operatives to monitor, gather, and process real-time data. These types of system however, only log non-compliant operations and do not provide the ‘why’ that exists behind the data.


As detailed in the aforementioned guide above, new solutions such as the B850 boilerhouse energy monitor provide a whole picture of the boilerhouse, steam and condensate loop, allowing a level of informed maintenance not possible with a BMS. It offers you a new way of monitoring and measuring, supplying precise data that go beyond simple estimates. Its flexibility and ease-of-use ensures that you don’t need to overcomplicate the process of saving energy and money.


If you’re interested in Spirax Sarco’s B850 energy monitor, why not click here and find out more?