In cases of more extensive damage to heat exchangers or other tubular heat transfer equipment, the service provider’s recommendation to rebuild or replace the unit may hinge on the company’s capabilities or inclination to sell new equipment. Yet, the choice to replace can have a huge impact on both replacement and downtime costs.
Daniel Bina, president and CEO of American Power Services (APS), Erlanger, Ky., a nationwide provider of heat transfer equipment services such as troubleshooting, repair and complete rebuilds, cites a recent instance. In that case, at a nuclear power plant, a low-pressure feedwater heater had stress cracking at various locations along the tube length within more than 700 tubes. One service provider was able to sleeve the entire array of tubes in just a few days, enabling the unit to stay online and thereby optimize performance while eliminating months of heater related downtime.
In other cases, replacement is unavoidable, yet the months of waiting for a new unit can be tremendously expensive, particularly in process operations. In one such instance, a process plant lost both redundant heat exchangers.
“The whole process was shut down. So, the plant went to several manufacturers to see what the lead-time would be to get a replacement heat exchanger. They would have ended up waiting several months for the different components of a replacement heat exchanger to be fabricated and assembled,” Bina said. Fortunately, by using materials that were already in stock, we were able to design a heat exchanger that was delivered within six weeks of receiving the purchase order. The customer saved a significant amount of money by getting their processing line back online months ahead of the time that would have been otherwise required.”