Steam is an important source of heat transfer in many manufacturing processes due to its high heat content and consistent temperature at a given pressure. Steam traps are, “…used to discharge condensates and non-condensable gases with a negligible consumption or loss of live steam.”
I caught up with Emerson’s Tom Bass, wireless product management director, who noted that these steam traps are automatic valves that require ongoing maintenance. Failed steam traps represent a source of energy waste, resulting in poor steam quality as well as increased fuel consumption and emissions.
Steam traps fail frequently and in a variety of ways, but they often go unchecked due to inconsistent and infrequent audits, leaving the plant operations staff blind to any issues. Types of failures include blowing through, flooding and plugging.
Tom highlighted some studies showing that failure rates for steam traps range from 12.5% to 25% annually, and 5-10% of total energy costs are typically lost through leaking steam traps. If the failure is the valve not opening, the process can experience loss of heat transfer and in turn a loss of production. It can also cause a system to flood or experience water hammer, which may lead to equipment damage and downtime.
If a steam trap fails to close and instead remains open, steam is blown directly into condensate return or lost to the atmosphere–resulting in damage to the condensate system and higher energy costs.
Tom noted that to address these challenges and impacts on performance, Emerson introduced pipe clamp-on, wireless acoustic transmitters to continuously monitor these steam traps to identify failure conditions. Combined with web-based, operational analytics embedded in the Plantweb Insight Steam Trap application, the operations staff gains increased visibility of steam traps to quickly identify and address failure conditions.
The application uses machine learning-based asset models and analytics and integrates with existing infrastructure. Offering continuous steam trap status monitoring, including failure modes and analysis of economic and environmental impact, the application helps your facility improve maintenance prioritization and energy efficiency.
Plantweb Insight Steam Trap application determines the online health status of steam traps by verifying if a trap is in failure mode. This is calculated using a status algorithm established from years of industry experience analyzing data collected from manufacturers across the globe. Economic and environmental impacts of these failure conditions are displayed. And based on severity, a prioritized maintenance list is available for planning and fixing.
The value for process manufacturers and producers is in reduced energy costs and streamlined & prioritized maintenance practices. For one chemical manufacturer, excessive energy costs were reduced by $100,000.
Download the whitepaper 4 Steps to Improve Steam Trap Operation, and visit the Plantweb digital ecosystem section on Emerson.com for more on these and other technologies that enhance insight to enable actions that drive Top Quartile performance.