With fall comes relief from summer’s brutal heat — and the need to plan for cold weather issues. Cold temperatures can affect worker safety and productivity, production capacity and rates, product quality and mix, production schedules and a company’s ability to seize market opportunities.
Temporary heating solutions can give manufacturers increased control over seasonal variability, especially when capital expenditure budgets have been eliminated. At times, however, preconceived notions about temporary heating equipment may prevent plant personnel from utilizing technologies that can help them realize financial gains and competitive advantages.
This article looks at seven common views about temporary industrial heating systems and answers them with real-world examples.
1. It Is a Given That We Will Produce Less in Winter Months
Many believe seasonal production losses in cold months are a given. But, innovative facilities managers seek new and better ways to enhance production.
Take, for example, a manufacturer of glass bottles. Production of glass bottles requires large volumes of ambient air. If that air is too cold, significant product losses can result. Heating equipment appropriate to the operating environment can supply hot air to keep bottle-forming air temperatures properly aligned in support of established production targets.
2. Increased Fouling in Winter Is Inevitable
It is not uncommon to hear plant personnel explain that everyone in their industry expects product quality to be impacted during winter. But, proper temperature heat — applied proactively — can help protect product quality.
One industry that routinely deploys annual site winterization is the oil-and-gas business. At an Alberta oil-sands facility producing oil, interconnecting outdoor pipes and valves weave among buildings to keep high value, high viscosity crude products warm and flowing. In winter months, these sites face the risks of costly production losses, unexpected equipment failure and increased operating expenses.
Given the massive volumes of oil and gas being moved, uptime is paramount if a producer is going to maximize the value of the commodities. Downtime produces significant financial losses. Many producers benefit from heat solutions that ensure uptime regardless of the weather report.
Proper maintenance throughout the summer with certified equipment reconditioning allows heating equipment to be rental-ready for winter.
3. The Cost of Temporary Heat Offsets Potential ROI
All plant personnel live under pressure to keep costs in check. Fear of spending can affect proper evaluation of the costs and potential upsides of a rental strategy.
For a manufacturer of airplanes, the cost of a temporary heat solution proved minimal compared to the high cost of delayed production. The manufacturer builds airplanes in an enclosed facility. To maximize production timelines, planes are moved outside, where crews work on the interiors while production takes place on new aircraft inside the building. In winter, temporary heat inside the planes allows workers to be productive while high value production continues inside the facility.
In the case of a Northeast pharmaceutical company, temporary heat applied during the summer months kept production going. Chillers required in the plant’s production must be load tested in order to be certified for use. A single chiller unable to pass testing would have caused schedule slippage and possibly prevented the entire plant from opening. Placing a hydronic heat application on the chiller allowed the pharmaceutical company to receive its certification. The minimal cost of a temporary heating solution preserved the company’s investment and enabled new revenue to flow in as planned.
Cold temperatures can affect worker safety and productivity, production capacity and rates, product quality and mix, production schedules and a company’s ability to seize market opportunities. Temporary heating solutions can give manufacturers increased control over this seasonal variable.
4. It Is a Waste to Rent for Months When the Need is Short Term
Many people question the value of short-term rentals. Analyses of plant sites across an array of industries, however, show ROI and fuel savings can be achieved through monthly rentals or by permanently applying temporary heating to existing plant systems.
The costliest use of temporary temperature solutions occurs when reactive plant personnel wait until something breaks and pay the price for an immediate solution for just days or weeks. Pre-negotiated, planned-for seasonal use of temporary heating, contracted on standby for emergency response, is a responsible way to ensure plant uptime and cost control.
Whether for temporary or permanent applications, renting heating equipment over months helps eliminate the need for capital expenditure equipment. In addition, the rental allows you to tap the equipment provider’s expertise and knowledge, which can prevent costly and unsafe outcomes. More than just the equipment cost, the rental fee includes services such as equipment selection and sizing, equipment mobilization and delivery, installation by experienced installers, access to field personnel familiar with ongoing operational issues and maintenance and, eventually, demobilization and storage.
Whether for temporary or permanent applications, renting heating equipment over months helps eliminate the need for capital expenditure equipment.
5. Rental Equipment Affects Product Quality
Often, plant personnel can fall prey to the lure of shiny new objects paraded by rental companies. But, experienced users of rental solutions know that even new equipment can turn out to be costly and introduce safety issues when installed by unqualified personnel.
Before signing a purchase order, ask the rental provider to outline their procedures for ensuring that equipment is clean, certified and ready to be introduced into the facility, regardless of the age or prior use of their rental equipment.
6. I Know What Equipment We Need
In an attempt to standardize solutions and introduce quality controls, many job sites sometimes introduce risks. For example, a multi-site tour revealed a plethora of problems that a construction company had yet to identify. Though each building site was unique and at different stages of construction, it was clear their choice of heating solutions had been driven by price and familiarity. When a construction company always uses the exact same type and size of heater, and same type of fuel, regardless of location and application, it flirts with disaster.
Experienced rental solutions providers help companies save money with right-for-the-site equipment, alternative solutions and fuel options that can be safer for each site being heated. Most important, well-designed heating applications can help keep the contractor’s skilled labor safe and working productively regardless of weather conditions.
7. We Cannot Seize this Market Opportunity without Capital Expenditure
Site personnel challenge their own internal soundtrack that repeats, “If it’s high impact, it must require capital outlay.”
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, a medical facility constructed tents adjacent to their buildings to screen personnel before they entered. An unexpected need and expense, the temporary screening facilities required immediate support for temporary heating.
Additionally, the pandemic’s effect on the supply chain has introduced new needs for temporary heating solutions. As overseas boiler manufacturers have shut down production, the need in North America to source needed parts has become a scheduling issue. Manufacturing customers are now turning to temporary heating solutions to ensure their operations remain productive.
In conclusion, as plant efficiency becomes an increased focus during an economic recession and long-term pandemic response, winter planning requires company-wide challenges to costly, imbedded thinking. Temporary solutions can become permanent solutions for plant operators willing to challenge convention in their organizations.