Why sustainability makes good business sense

Jan. 26, 2016
To get the desired cost reductions, focus your efforts on areas that clearly need improvement and implement changes incrementally.

Chemical makers want to increase the sustainability of their operations but always must keep costs in mind. Fortunately, enhancing the sustainability of a plant and significantly improving the triple bottom line (people, planet, profit) of a company doesn’t have to blow the budget. Some relatively inexpensive measures can keep a plant running at peak efficiency, providing year after year cost reductions and holding its carbon footprint in check. Here, we’ll look at several steps: loop tuning, boiler tuning, addressing steam leaks, using variable frequency drives (VFDs) and lighting upgrades. These steps can yield decent savings on their own, but combined as a program, could provide a substantial boost.

A well-tuned loop enables a controller to get a desired output based on a set point in a repeatable and accurate manner. Having valves oscillate greatly to find that desired output costs a plant power, time and money. Good efficient control of a loop yields energy savings, minimizes raw material losses and contributes to more-consistent product quality. In contrast, a loop that’s not tuned properly not only undermines performance but also may pose a safety issue.

Valves constantly wear — the more a valve travels, the more wear it likely will suffer. To put this into perspective, a valve may travel five to ten times more than necessary to have the same output in a tuned loop. The greater a loop is out of tune, the greater the valve travels. This extra movement does two things. It prematurely wears out the valve, causing more frequent removal from service and rebuilding, which can be quite costly. Operating the valve also requires more power, which puts an unnecessary added burden on your pneumatic system. Multiply that extra power by the number of valves in the system and the impact can be enormous.

To learn more about sustainability, read “Improve Sustainability on a Shoestring” from Chemical Processing.

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