All industrial facilities need to have processes operating properly and efficiently to meet the high demands of their production schedule. Any disruption or shutdown can cost a facility millions of dollars, making it important to audit your heat management system. Winter storms or any other natural disaster can cause major issues if facilities are not well maintained or properly protected. Pipes and instruments can freeze causing hours/days of downtime. Poor insulation can also lead to frozen pipes and instrumentation issues. The list goes on and on.
What Puts a Heat Management System at Risk?
A heat management system keeps these facilities operating safely and at peak performance if maintained properly. However, many facilities do not have dedicated heat tracing maintenance or operations teams watching over these systems on a regular basis. The system could be operating fine for months or years without issues, but systems do age and may be exposed by impacts from winter events.
Heat tracing can be complicated if you are not familiar with the overall system. Some folks see electric heat tracing (EHT) as just the heating cable; however, a complete heat management system considers many components beyond the heat tracing cables alone. They include:
- The heating cables
- Power and termination connections
- Temperature sensors
- Heat trace control systems
- Power distribution
- Insulation systems
- Winterized instrument enclosures
All these components of a heat tracing system need to be well designed and maintained to properly protect your facility and its processes.
The Importance of Preventive Maintenance
It’s important to be proactive and have a preventive maintenance program in place. Maintaining a heat management system should be done prior to the winter season, not during. You do not want to react to system failures, but rather be prepared and mitigate any potential upsets.
A heat management system audit is great way to get started. The process allows you to identify any vulnerabilities with your system and put together a plan to address it. An audit can:
- Identify problems before they impact operations
- Identify system reliability needs based on data
- Establish records of your heat tracing
Why Audit Your Heat Management System?
A good audit program needs to address these basic elements to your heat management system:
- What a properly “as-designed” heat tracing system looks like and how to inspect for deficiencies
- What deliverables are provided during and after the audit
- What additional post audit services can be provided to maintain the heath of your system
An audit is a great entry point to evaluate the overall health of your heat management system. Avoid untimely surprises like frozen lines and incorrect control panel operation that could lead to safety issues. Audits help you take action and implement preventive maintenance measures to repair or replace vulnerabilities before costly shutdowns. A good audit program can also help minimize process interruptions, lower lifetime maintenance costs, and increase up-time.