Process plant managers today understand the need to monitor their core processes by using accurate, data-rich instrumentation. Although it is important to keep an eye on these core processes, looking deeper within the plant can be highly advantageous. Utility management is an important and often overlooked method of ensuring efficient and cost-saving processes. We recommend starting with the five major utilities – compressed air, heating, cooling, industrial gases, and steam – which are needed to service the core processes.
We’ve seen that when you address these five utilities, you can significantly reduce operational and maintenance costs in your facility. You can save by accurately and reliably measuring operational challenges such as: process safety management, control systems, infrastructure, reducing heat loss in distribution and optimizing fuel consumption and heat exchangers.
We sat down with Endress+Hauser’s Power & Energy industry expert, Cory Marcon, to talk about utility management and how it can improve process efficiency. Let’s see what he has to say!
Q: What is the primary goal of utility management in heavy industries (chemical, power and energy and oil and gas)?
A: Across heavy industries, there is a large amount of electricity, steam, compressed air, and chemical usage that needs to be considered when looking at utility management. Utilities can be one of the largest costs within processes and with this in mind, the primary goal of managing utilities is to ensure reliability at the lowest overall cost.
Q: How can utility management improve efficiency in your industry processes?
A: Utility management allows you to do more with less. It’s important to only use the amount of steam or electricity that you need to. This means taking certain measures such as verifying that there are no leaks in your compressed air as well as effectively monitoring the quality of your steam to ensure your system is running efficiently.
Q: How can upgrading to Endress+Hauser products in your utility systems improve overall processes?
A: With Endress+Hauser technologies and sensors, there is a lot more data at your disposal that can give you good insight into your process. This includes utility-specific products such as the Proline Prowirl F 200 Vortex meter commonly used in steam processes to detect wet steam. This can help identify boiler inefficiencies and other root problems that would lower the performance of the system.
Q: Where would you start if you were looking to improve your plant’s utility management tomorrow?
A: I would start by making sure I understand the overall cost that utilities make up at my plant and then start to categorize them into the various systems- steam, compressed air, heating, cooling or industrial gases. Then I would proceed to find out where the biggest costs are among that group and begin to look for potential areas of improvement. Some of this may start with the inspection of capital equipment, like your boiler, to find clues of potential issues, like poor water quality leading to corrosion.
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