Some companies are reluctant to maintain a spare heater or parts in inventory because they fear that stocking these things is counterintuitive. Optimizing inventory is an essential element of effectively controlling operating costs. However, to operate a plant reliably, maintaining critical spare heaters and/or parts in inventory should be considered to minimize performance disruption and reduce costs.
Process and Equipment Criticality
Optimized plant operation requires an understanding of critical assets. If equipment fails and a production line or an important plant capability is affected, how can the disruption be minimized? And how quickly can it be remedied?
Imagine if something goes wrong with your facility's heating equipment. What are the consequences of not having the right part or a replacement heater? The loss of product should be on top of that list. Even more, critical temperature applications, such as food production, could result in fines from the USDA or the FDA.
Now imagine if something goes wrong with the heating equipment and a spare heater is available. In-house maintenance can directly swap the spare heater for the problematic one most efficiently, especially if installed directly into the existing system piping. Production doesn't stop for an extended time, reducing product loss. A fuller examination can now be made of the heater. If it's a worn part, the maintenance team can change it out. If it is a more substantial repair, maintenance has time to have service called on the heater or sent to the manufacturer for refurbishment.
On the other hand, equipment is best managed via a preventative maintenance plan throughout its life. A spare heater can be seamlessly installed in production, keeping the process running smoothly while the scheduled maintenance is taken care of on-site or at the manufacturer.
Even the most reliable equipment needs regular maintenance or requires updates, which means it needs to be taken out of service. Taking some time to calculate the downtime risk can weigh the pros and cons of having a spare heater or parts in stock.
To calculate that risk, what does an hour of downtime cost? Now, factor in the lead times of getting a working heater back into production - keeping in mind that rebuilding a heater (if parts are on hand) may require a day of downtime, a refurbishment might take four weeks, or ordering a new heater could take six weeks or more, as specialty materials or other customizations could increase lead times. Compare that downtime to the cost of purchasing a spare heater and/or replacement parts, and you can quickly weigh the impact of not having a spare heater or parts due to an unexpected shutdown.
Below is an example of a meat slaughter plant: factoring in labor costs, loss of product, and other expenses yield a financial loss estimate of approximately $300 a minute. Let's expand that cost to waiting to have a new heater received and installed on-site.
Down-time for one hour: $18,000
Down-time for one day: $432,000
Down-time for four weeks for a refurbishment: $12,960,000
Down-time for six weeks for a new heater: $18,144,000
If downtime results in a significant financial loss, it is probably a good idea to have a spare heater or at least parts on hand.
The Hydro-Thermal Solution
Hydro-Thermal Corporation recommends either a spare Hydro-Thermal DSI heater or spare parts be kept in your inventory at all times. While our heaters are incredibly reliable, each is customized to your specific facility, application, and process parameters, so lead times apply.
Option #1 (Spare Hydro-Thermal DSI Heater)
Many customers have chosen to keep a spare heater for the following reasons:
- Process is critical, and any downtime results in production loss and financial impact.
- Refurbishment program benefits
i. One less vendor to manage during your shutdown: Your staff can swap out the units in about an hour. Then you can send the used heater to our facility for refurbishment.
ii. Any refurbished heater receives a renewed warranty equal to a new heater.
iii. Longer lasting parts: We can offer advice from noticing wear patterns and can reuse parts at our facility (due to our manufacturing capabilities) that would have to be replaced in the field.
Option # 2 (Spare parts and Service)
As each Hydro-Thermal heater is custom designed, we recommend that you maintain critical spare (internal) components on-site.
If you don't have a spare Hydro-Thermal DSI Heater, we recommend the following maintenance to your heater:
Regularly (no longer than annually):
- Physically (and thoroughly) inspect the heater for any leaks and/or damage to soft goods (seals, o-rings, and packings).
- Annually (or per established preventative maintenance schedule):
a. Disassemble heater and check parts for wear.
b. Replace all seals.
c. Replace stem packing. It is recommended to have spare internals on hand before disassembling (Check your heater's manual for these internal parts).
Hydro-Thermal offers a range of preventive maintenance plans to prevent unintended shutdowns or the potential for extended outages. These plans range from stocking a spare heater in your plant in case of an emergency shutdown, stocking spare internal and soft parts for your heater, service technician visits and training your maintenance staff and operators, or a complete refurbishment of your unit.