In the first part of this series, we covered classifying and prioritizing identified energy saving measures.
The next steps in the implementation process involve developing a detailed implementation plan that helps obtain plan approval and organize resources. A well-defined action plan not only convinces top management and the team, but also aids in identifying hurdles that need to be cleared to achieve the desired results. A detailed plan should incorporate the following:
1. Specific targets or key performance indicators.
2. All step-by-step activities.
3. A timetable.
4. Resources and funding requirements.
5. Integration with other plant equipment and processes.
You must establish goals and objectives early in the implementation plan. Whether it's a small energy project involving no significant capital investment or a large project with thousands of dollars invested, goal setting is very important. Sometimes, you must set goals in stages. For example, improving a boiler's combustion efficiency could involve three stages: initially, optimizing excess air with the existing burner, followed by using a new high-efficiency burner, and finally, installing an economizer.
Goal setting also includes defining the most desirable, achievable results.
This involves incorporating measuring and monitoring tools such as online or portable stack-gas analyzers, fuel-gas flow meters and stack thermometers.
A good energy project plan is really a process of thinking through and listing out all activities involved in implementing the project to reach the desired goals. Once all activities are listed, it's critical to identify and review potential hurdles. Next, fine-tune these activities to accommodate or overcome these hurdles. Doing this at the planning stage helps to complete the project in a timely manner without cost over-runs.
No plan is complete until a timetable is set for the listed project activities. The timetable should take into consideration the following:
• Order and delivery of critical equipment and components.
• Permit process, if required.
• Pre-fabricated components and field-installation activities.
• Climate (most steam, condensate and insulation projects generally are carried out prior to the onset of winter, especially in the northern U.S.).
• Commissioning and establishing performance.
Next, identify the required resources to implement the project. Typically, resources include the necessary funds, manpower and machinery. It may be challenging to identify qualified and experienced manpower. However, for certain critical projects, such as installing new process control features and recovering condensate from multiple pressure-level heat exchangers, it may be wise to wait until qualified and experienced staff are available. Qualified, experienced personnel assigned to design and implement energy savings projects also can help identify suitable equipment and machinery needs and train in-plant personnel.
The most important part of the implementation plan is getting funding approved. Because several projects compete for the limited resources available for non-production-related projects, the energy manager must review the overall production activities at the plant and try to relate benefits like reliability and safety along with energy efficiency. Many times, the energy savings alone might not suffice to meet management's investment criteria for capital expenditure. Though hidden and rarely evaluated, maintenance- and breakdown-related costs could support new energy-efficient equipment and processes. It's worth identifying and evaluating them to help get the funding needed.
You also should clearly define in the timetable any applicable tie-in and integration with other equipment and processes. Generally, tie-ins with other equipment or processes are carried out during a planned stoppage. Occasionally, "hot tapping" is preferred based on the continuous operating nature of relevant equipment and processes.
Another aspect of proper integration is to ensure no mismatches or quality issues. Recovering flash steam at 25 psig, while the low-pressure steam header is maintained at 30 psig, or recovering condensate from a jacketed reactor that's both heated as well as cooled without a condensate quality monitor, are cases of poor integration I typically come across. You should address these kinds of mismatches in the planning stage.
Project implementation is complete only when performance criteria are established. Determining results of an energy savings project is essential for the whole energy management program, because success breeds success. Also, the level of success helps to fine-tune further improvements and expand to other areas of the plant. When everyone in the plant gets involved, energy management is a continuous improvement process that never stops. This last step is most effective with continuous monitoring, which I'll cover in the January issue.
VEN V. VENKATESAN is Chemical Processing's Energy Columnist. You can e-mail him at VVenkatesan@putman.net