Best Practices Awards for 2008

Most organizations need examples that demonstrate how to introduce best practices, show the potential payoffs, and provide inspiration for those who must overcome cultural inertia and make effective changes. That's why we present you with your picks of the year’s leading applications.

By Paul Studebaker, Editor in Chief

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What is a Best Practice? We’re partial to the Society of Maintenance and Reliability Professionals (SMRP) definition: “A Best Practice is a process, technique or innovative use of resources that has a proven record of success in providing significant improvement in cost, schedule, quality, performance, safety, environment or other measurable factors that impact the health of an organization.”

SMRP committee members and contributors are doing the industrial maintenance and asset management profession a great service by defining terminology, building consensus standards and collecting a body of knowledge that includes Best Practices. The SMRP’s formal process of soliciting proposals, submitting them to its membership for comment, refining and agreeing upon the results, and making them available to all, is invaluable.

But defining Best Practices only gets you part of the way. To implement them, most companies and individuals need concrete examples that demonstrate how to introduce them, show the potential payoffs in both qualitative and quantitative terms, and provide inspiration for those who must overcome cultural inertia and make effective changes.

That’s why we offer the Plant Services Best Practices Awards. All that’s needed to enter is a story about an application that fits the SMRP definition. Entries may be submitted by plant personnel, vendors, engineering firms, consultants or anyone who is familiar with the application and has permission to make it public knowledge.

Entries submitted by Sept. 1, 2007 were included in this year’s selection. We edited them as necessary for clarity, divided them into four categories, and posted them behind registration pages in a secluded region of

We wrote summaries of every proposed Best Practice and its results (leaving out any product or company names), and in December we e-mailed the summaries to registered Plant Services readers, inviting them to vote by registering and accessing the full stories. Registration is used only to ensure the integrity of the voting process – information is not shared with others or used for any other purpose.

The winners presented here were determined by tallying the number of qualified readers who had accessed each entry. Here you’ll find comprehensive excerpts of this year’s winning stories, as well as brief descriptions of the runners-up.

We want to thank those of you who responded to our e-mailed ballot, not only for helping to select the winners, but also for being interested in improving their operations, and thus all our lives, by learning from the application stories.

We also thank all who entered for being willing to share the results of your fine work with your peers, and for taking the time and making the effort to write it up. We encourage everyone to enter the 2009 Plant Services Best Practices Awards.



Reduce space heating energy consumption

Durr Industries, North American, in Plymouth, Mich., is a global supplier of painting systems and air pollution control equipment for the automotive, aerospace and other markets. Gordon Harbison, a certified energy manager, is leader of Durr’s project development team. His job is to reduce energy consumption and the cost of operations for Durr’s customers. So management says, “If you can do it for them, then do it for us.”

In spring 2005, Harbison decommissioned the gas-fired boiler at Durr’s 240,000 sq. ft. facility. The 20-year-old boiler had a capacity of 10,350 lbs/hr and was in good working order. However, it was inefficient, and rising energy and maintenance costs made it expensive to operate. The boiler heated a manufacturing area using fan coil and unit heaters distributed around the plant. The office had hydronic heating coils, hydronic baseboard radiation, a hydronic snow melting system and a combination of air handlers, both hydronic and indirect gas-fired.

Durr also wanted to address cold dock door areas, achieve more even temperatures throughout the building and improve ventilation with outside air to address a negative air pressure problem. The ultimate goal was to reduce energy and operating costs enough to pay for their new heating equipment.

The 180,000-sq.-ft. production area, with 25-ft. ceilings, was a challenge because of its uneven roofline, mixture of high-bay and low-bay areas, hanging lights, many windows and hard-to-heat dock area. They considered an infrared heating system, but Durr soon realized it would be too expensive, difficult to install and wouldn’t solve the negative air pressure problem.

Roof-mounted Blow-Thru industrial space heaters from Cambridge Engineering became the obvious choice. This direct gas-fired heating equipment operates at 100% combustion efficiency because there are no flue or heat exchanger losses. The equivalent AFUE rating, or thermal efficiency, is 92%. John McGraw, the Cambridge Territory Manager who handled this project, says, “Cambridge Blow-Thru heaters have the highest-certified dual-temperature rise/outlet temperature ratings of 160°F, which differentiates our design from less-efficient direct gas-fired, draw-thru type heaters.”

The 160°F max ratings result in smaller but more powerful units, and the highest BTU/CFM rating. McGraw explained, “The Cambridge burner also is more energy efficient because the high temperature rise allows it to heat just the right amount of fresh outside air to address the building’s combined air infiltration, make-up air and space-heating needs. That means more heat, when and where Durr needs it, like at cold dock door areas.”

The old steam system would overheat the 60,000-sq.-ft. office space in the afternoon, which affected worker productivity. Performance Engineering Group, a Michigan-based company, provided the new heating equipment. Alan Deal, the company’s president, says, “The challenge for upgrading the office heating system was finding a new location for the gas-fired hydronic boilers, and figuring out a way to vent them.” The solution was to install three Raypak boilers outdoors. Two 1,800,000 BTU-per-hour boilers were put on the roof and one 500,000 BTU-per-hour boiler was located on grade level. The boilers have an 87% combustion efficiency, which is the highest available for this application. A minimum inlet water temperature of 120°F allowed for greater energy savings. The system also was part of a separate snow-melt application that required the use of glycol.

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