Employee safety is already the number one priority. Safety and proper maintenance go hand in hand. To get safety right, your water heating system must be correctly designed to start with, and then an effective maintenance program must be put in place to keep the equipment in peak working condition. Below are three scenarios that you may not have considered and why it could be putting your employees at risk.
Hose stations are commonly used for cleaning and washdown. They may be convenient, but there is also a safety component that should be considered when dealing with hose stations.
Review your current hose station equipment and check if safety features are in place. Some common hose stations have caused burns or other injuries if instructions were not properly followed. The manufacturer may recommend additional components such as strainers and steam traps that were not installed in conjunction with the hose station originally. If that is the case, then incorporating this equipment now can help safeguard employees against burns in the future.
Also, take the time to review your current steam piping. If there is steam piping to each hose drop, then this could be a potential problem. Ideally, your water heating equipment would eliminate this extra piping. The steam is easier to control if it is from one central location. This could also be a way to safeguard against burns or other injuries.
Scaling and Fouling
When water temperatures increase, hard minerals fall out of solution in the form of hard mineral deposits, often referred to as limescale. This occurs most frequently in processes or equipment that heat water. The higher the temperature, the quicker and thicker limescale forms within the system. The result is an increase in scaling/fouling of processing equipment.
Cleaning and maintenance can be challenging if hard water causes scaling and fouling. The chemicals used for regular cleaning and the staff hours needed for a thorough cleaning can be a large use of money, time, and resources.
Scaling and fouling can also be dangerous in many situations. Excessive scale can eventually lead to equipment failure, which may expose employees to hot water or steam. If scale is being addressed via regular cleaning, employees must work with harsh, dangerous, acidic chemicals.
There are a few methods to try and address scaling and fouling beyond regular cleaning and maintenance. The first is to try and oversize the heating equipment to compensate for the efficiency lost from the hard water.
Another option is to look at incorporating additional equipment such as a water softener or a catalytic solution.
A water softener incorporates a specially charged media which attracts calcium ions. Once the media becomes covered in calcium, it must regenerate. It does this by flushing a concentrated salt brine through the media to clean the beads, which is rejected down the drain (backwash).
On the other hand, a catalytic solution helps remove calcium, the principal mineral associated with scale, out of solution. The calcium is suspended in the form of a microscopic crystal (calcium carbonate in the aragonite state). As a result of this treatment, the amount of calcium left in the solution is reduced. It is preventing the supersaturation of calcium from occurring as the water passes through the system.
Please note, we are referring to steam hammer, which is a result of uncondensed steam instantaneously cavitating on the tank wall or piping with damaging force. It should not be mistaken for water hammer, which occurs in piping systems that utilize quick closing valves or systems that do not have a proper attenuation system.
If steam hammer is causing your heating equipment to shake violently, then it is a concern that needs to be addressed. Over time, tanks walls can be damaged, which could lead to hot water and hot steam leaking out of the sides of a tank.
There are multiple reasons why steam hammer may be occurring. Below are three everyday situations.
First, check if you have an externally-modulated steam pressure valve. This type of operation can lead to steam hammer or unit vibration as the steam mixes with the process fluid in the piping or tank. Over time, this can contribute to equipment wear, piping damage and lead to poor performance. If you have an externally modulated valve, consider purchasing an internally-modulated option, which eliminates the problems associated with hammer and vibration.
Second, monitor flow changes. Ideally, they should be gradual, and the temperature control loop should be able to respond to these changes. Review the initial sizing conditions provided to the equipment manufacturer. If production has increased or processing conditions have changed, the equipment may no longer be properly sized. Updated equipment or new components may be needed to compensate for these variations.
Finally, check your steam line for condensate. If there is excessive condensate in the steam line, then hammering and vibration could occur. If needed, purge the steam line. Depending on the piece of equipment, a drip leg and condensate trap may be recommended. Check with the equipment manufacturer for their specific recommendations.
Central Hot Water Heating Experts
Five Common Hot Water Challenges in Meat Processing
Do you catch yourself saying, “If it’s not broke, don’t ﬁx it,” or you ﬁnd that you are always heating water to a higher temperatures just to reach your set-point? These mindsets could be costing you money and efficiency.
Hot water is a critical component of any meat processing facility. If precise temperatures aren’t met, then facilities may face ﬁnes or even shutdown from the USDA. Yet, water as a utility is often the last of your concerns. Your objective is to keep your plant running without interruptions. Below are some common hot water problems at a meat facility and the reasons why you should be addressing them now.
Use our hotwater spotlight as your first step in diagnosing where your system might be lagging – including these five key areas:
- Safety is Your #1 Priority
- Not Reaching or Maintaining Critical Temperatures
- Running Out of Hot Water
- Hard Water
- Cavitation/Steam Hammer/Vibration
Ready to learn more? Download your free copy of Hot Water Spotlight on Five Common Hot Water Challenges in Meat Processing by completing the form.