Why a 25-Point Inspection is CRITICAL for Your Process Steam Boiler?
Recently, Trap Energy Solutions was hired to conduct a thorough assessment of a water tube steam boiler (110,000pph) for a food processing facility in the upper mid-west. Management thought the assessment would be useful information for future energy planning. Also, there was consensus at the plant that previous inspection activity was underwhelming.
Our assessment not only provided useful planning information about the condition of the boiler, but we discovered 8 plugged tubes that were susceptible to failure if they had gone unnoticed. Failure of these tubes would have resulted in an 8-day shutdown (if not longer) for this boiler. And, although two other boilers at this facility would have picked up some of the slack, the plant would have been at less than 50% production; resulting in serious production pressures. For this particular plant, an 8-day outage would have caused a serious financial hardship; perhaps in the $300,000-500,000 range.
Boiler inspections must be thorough. There is too much risk on the line for underwhelming inspection activity. To achieve effective results and good information, the inspection must include a visual inspection of the internal surfaces and tubes. In addition to crawling into the drums, this should be accomplished by inspecting each tube with a borescope inspection tool. A 20-minute inspection of the boiler is simply not sufficient to ensure reliable operations at a processing plant.
Not only are boiler inspections important for safety and jurisdictional compliance purposes, but also CRITICAL for reliability purposes in process production plants. Unplanned outages due to a boiler failure can lead to tremendous production pressures and significant revenue losses.