Considering a Feed System Upgrade?

Fully integrated systems bring reliable, performance-based chemical feed to critical water and wastewater applications

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In addition to providing fully integrated systems that bring reliable, optimized chemical feed and control to critical applications, a knowledgeable packaged system provider often can help plants to:

Achieve best practices efficiently.

Bridge the gap between plant owner, EPC team and water treatment supplier.

Create "pockets of excellence" in older/outdated facilities.

Achieve best practices efficiently

. To develop new automated feed and control systems, the developers must have a critical understanding of key chemical processes and automated chemical process control. A good packaged feed system supplier can provide chemical feed solutions using "best practices" for site-specific design and construction.

Best practices are built into the packaged solution based on application specifics. Why is the plant feeding the chemicals? How do feeding operations impact operation? What are the flow hydraulics for the application, and are any seasonal variations present?

How do these parameters fit in with construction material selection or dictate the best control regime for the application? All of these specifics, and many others, must be considered by the packaged system provider if the most appropriate solution is to be designed, built and delivered for the particular application.

In addition, features can be included in a packaged solution to add reliability through the use of best practices engineering design. These features include alarm capabilities, feed delivery confirmation, automatic switchover backups, redundant pumps and complete automation packages.

Bridge the gap between plant owner, EPC team & water treatment supplier.

As a result of the timing inherent in the design process, a communication disconnect can exist between the needs for a new plant's chemical feed application and the water treatment supplier's specific treatment programs.

A water treatment firm is not usually selected until plant construction has been completed or is near completion. Consequently, the design of the chemical feed system receives minimal input from the water treatment firm that ultimately will be responsible for chemical feed operations. Once a water treatment firm is selected, it then must operate the systems as designed.

A knowledgeable and experienced packaged feed system provider can apply experience and best practices to efficiently and effectively bridge the gap between plant designers and the construction and procurement arms of the EPC team. As a result, optimization is built into the facility's chemical feed and control processes from the onset.

Create "pockets of excellence."

Some plants are simply too old to make a complete overhaul of existing systems economically and/or physically feasible. In many older refineries, for example, the cost for hardwiring the plant for systemwide distributed control alone is sky high. However, for these and many other older plants with outdated equipment, packaged feed systems can provide tremendous opportunities for automation, optimization and safety.

Self-contained systems can be designed and built to meet the precise needs of the process while also providing local automated control. A variety of different wireless communication options can be incorporated into the system design to allow the plant to monitor and access critical performance data via the Internet or other communications options.

Incorporating these stand-alone systems in areas of the plant experiencing the most problems often can bring results that are both impressive and sustained. Used throughout an aging, outdated plant, these site-specific packaged chemical feed systems can create "pockets of excellence" that bring significant improvements and allow the plant to be competitive in its most critical processes.

 

A custom packaged chemical feed provider custom designed the entire system shown here.

Creating economies

Some major corporations are buying numerous smaller companies in the water and chemical treatment equipment fields, resulting in tremendous synergies that allow economically efficient approaches to packaged solutions not possible in the past. A few major solutions providers today possess a variety of new technologies "in-house," and have corporate relationships with outside suppliers of critical technologies, equipment and materials, thereby providing far greater buying leverage than was previously possible.

When a system is built on-site, the engineer responsible for the plant must design each chemical feed system and then select, purchase, install and integrate all the components making up these systems, including coordination with numerous suppliers. Proper design and materials selection are vital to system longevity and reliability to maximize the value of the system.

A packaged solution effectively shifts these burdens away from the engineer. It is now the packaged solution provider's responsibility to engineer these systems correctly; the provider "owns" the process until it hands the system over to the plant as a working product. This approach also eliminates the "finger pointing" that can take place between suppliers of components, a frequent headache for plants and engineers when a built-on-site system fails to perform properly.

Choosing a provider

No two packaged feed system providers are alike ," they come in all shapes and sizes ," with varying capabilities. Five key questions you should ask before choosing a provider include:

1) Does the firm possess the technical knowledge required to perform the task efficiently and effectively? Does it view the system as a whole? Can it see "past the pump?"

2) Does the firm have related experience? Is it experienced in designing and building packaged chemical feed systems similar in size and scope to the systems your plant requires?

3) Does the firm possess the organizational depth to provide you optimum service? This includes not only experienced consultants providing you with effective solutions, but also engineers, CAD designers, and installation, startup, service and support personnel providing documentation, drawings and training programs relative to your packaged feed system.

4) Does the firm take "creative" approaches to designing and building integrated systems so customers receive the highest-quality feed system at the lowest practical cost?

5) Does the firm have a sound business philosophy? In other words, is it dedicated to being a true custom solutions provider, or is it simply a technology vendor?

When a facility is searching for a packaged feed system provider, it is looking for a company that possesses specific qualifications in technical knowledge and related experience. To avoid any potential pitfalls, the provider's experience, technical capabilities and trace record should be thoroughly evaluated. References should be checked to verify that design-build work for other customers has been professionally carried out within budget and to the customers' satisfaction. In addition, once a provider has been selected, the scope of work and services required should be thoroughly defined and agreed upon at the outset.

Conclusion

As facilities strive to adopt automation and gain reliability, optimization and safety during an era of shrinking human resources, facility management and EPC firms must rethink the way chemical feed systems are designed, built and procured. Increasingly, effective solutions are being found in the adoption of packaged chemical feed systems. An experienced and knowledgeable packaged solutions provider can offer significant efficiencies, while providing fully integrated systems that bring reliable, performance-based chemical feed to critical applications.

Armenta is a vice president with ," and Demarco is a product manager (OSEC Systems) for ," USFilter Chemfeed & Disinfection Group, Bradley, Ill. Contact them at (800) 882-6466.

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