to major steam trap manufacturers, compiled data has demonstrated that
if there has been no steam trap inspection and maintenance program,
upwards of 50% of the steam traps at a particular location may be
wasting steam. It is only through a consistent, regularly scheduled trap
maintenance program that effective savings can be achieved. Below we detail a conservative estimate of those savings.
The data is general and may not necessarily reflect the exact
situation in your plant.
system of 1,000 steam traps, it is assumed that the average orifice size
of a blow-through is estimated at 1/16 inch, the average pressure is 150
psig, and the cost of steam production is $4.00/1,000 lbs.
It is also assumed that the plant steam is in operation 365
days/year, 24 hours/day. Based
on these assumptions, the steam loss per day is 453 lbs. per trap at
a cost of $1.81/day/trap or $662.25/year loss per trap.
A conservative assumption that only 10% of the traps are faulty
would result in an annual cost of $66,225 in lost steam within the
to stop neglecting or taking a steam system for granted is now.
The rise in fuel costs over the past fifty years should have
jolted you into the realization that poorly maintained steam systems
makes no financial, engineering or moral sense.
For over the past twenty years, I have pondered why steam systems
are treated as second- class citizens.
Some of the reasons I theorized are:
manpower: It is true that
cutbacks have depleted many facilities the pipe fitters and steam
reliability personnel necessary to maintain their systems.
expertise: Few people at
most facilities are well versed in how the system should be tested or
does not consider the system a high priority for resource allocation:
If they only realized the tens of thousands or millions of
dollars they have been wasting over the years.
energy (operating) costs are taken for granted:
Many plants do not meter their steam to individual departments;
system add-ons are used as the excuse for purchasing additional boilers;
no method in the plant exists that can indicate they are using twice as
much fuel as they should be.
a good predictive maintenance program for steam traps takes vision and
an unrelenting commitment to manage the steam system.
properly managing the steam system, not only will you improve the plant
bottom-line by reducing fuel consumption, you will impact the world
environmental community by vastly reducing toxic boiler emissions.
THE CASE FOR PURCHASING GOOD SOFTWARE
… one of numerous examples
steam trap management software permits you to make important judgment
calls based on proper information.
As you gather data, you must have the ability to sort the data
and convert it into useful information. For instance, take the case of a
pharmaceutical or food company that does little or nothing in treating
its boiler with chemicals because of contamination issues.
By collecting and entering data into a software package, one can
analyze the data to determine if one of the six manufacturers traps on
site provides nearly trouble-free operations (i.e. an all stainless
steel float and thermostatic trap).
As you review the results of current and past steam trap surveys,
the information shows which of the steam traps have low maintenance
costs associated with it.
... the first step in taking control of your system
first step in building the software database is to take a pad with you
and record the relevant data for each trap that you tag and test.
The first survey is always the most difficult since it is
necessary to input the most information.
The reason for this is to allow the user to categorize the future
data into useful information for analysis.
surveys will move at a swift pace because you need only to record the
following data: inlet/outlet temperatures and the test status.
step is to take a photograph of each steam trap and the application it
is draining. Good software
should allow you to include this digital record along with all the
associated trap data. A
competent steam engineer may then determine whether proper attention has
been paid to hook-up design. Going
one-step further, the photo can be marked-up (in a paint program) with
arrows pointing to areas that need modification.
Why Plant Steam Trap Programs
Serious students learn, if one is
to succeed in life’s chosen endeavors, at least two criteria must be
met: (1) The willingness to
learn new things and (2) An uncompromising
determination to chart a course to reach your goals. In order to
gain confidence to succeed, we must have the willingness to learn new
things. We also live in world where practical
knowledge and experience should never be given less weight than book
learning. Both are equally
charged with the responsibility of the steam conservation program must
be well trained so that they feel comfortable in accomplishing their
having an uncompromising determination to chart a course to reach your
goals. Then the discipline,
patience, and organization to forever stay the course will be gained.
a good steam trap program for testing and replacement of faulty traps
once existed in your facility. Then,
an individual charged with instituting the program retired or left the
plant. The program left
with their departure.
you purchase a “kit ready for assembly” you are provided with the
parts and instructions. If
I were to break it down into the two necessary components to begin a
steam trap program it would be (1) equipment and the accompanied
training necessary to attain your confidence level (purchase
your equipment and training from a respected expert in the field) and (2) software that
can be used to manage the steam system.
CONTROL YOUR OWN SYSTEM
…contractors should conform to your standards and specifications.
large plant environment expansions and re-piping occurs on a regular
basis. It is surprising how
many plants have not created standard specifications on: (1) which trap
manufacturers and models are required (2) proscribed piping schematics
for particular process applications (3) provisions for strainer
blow-downs (4) placement instructions for check valves, air vents,
vacuum breakers, etc. An
outside contractor should never be given free reign over your system.
Especially when you have worked so hard in making it efficient
and well maintained. Remember, after the installation, you are
responsible for the system.
traps are the most important link between the steam and condensate
system. A malfunctioning
steam wastes steam as it blows through to the condensate side of the
system. The days of cheap energy have ended with a
reverberating bang, as has the ability to take skyrocketing fuel costs
for granted. It is
imperative that a steam system be regularly monitored for loss, not only
for the sake of producing quality products swiftly and efficiently, but
to survive in this highly competitive environment.
Bruce Gorelick (author) is the VP of Marketing for Conserv-it Software,
Inc. developer of