Perspectives: Field Notes

Ignore Utility Piping at Your Peril

Don’t wait for a failure to draw your attention to such lines

By Dirk Willard, Contributing Editor
Jun 2, 2015

The packaging line produced about 450 boxes of cereal per minute. It was designed for about 600 boxes. With the plant down, we still consumed about 800 scfm of compressed air. Fixing the problems with the system and eliminating vented valves saved about $150/minute in lost production. That’s how important utilities like compressed air usually are. Yet, I’d wager the most neglected piping at your site are the lines handling utilities — compressed air, instrument air, nitrogen, steam, fuel gas, caustic, acid, condensate, refrigeration, water and sewer. If you don’t believe me, try walking down your utility process and instrumentation diagrams (P&IDs). I bet you don’t have working isometric drawings for utilities.

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