Identifying Natural Gas Savings

Ten tell-tale signs your process profits are disappearing

Did you know your process profits are disappearing right under your nose? They’re not all that hard to find if you know where to look. Take a tour through your plant and see if you can spot ten telltale signs that process energy costs are killing your profits.

  • Scrap piles are a sure sign your process or production line is losing money. The more scrap you have or the more pieces that you need to rework, the more energy you’ve wasted producing nothing of value. The bigger your scrap pile, the greater the amount of energy you are wasting.

  • Machines and tools turned on while the line is down on nights, weekends or during breaks are a pretty good sign you are wasting energy.  A good rule of thumb is don’t run it if you don’t need it (so long as you’re not compromising safety or machine integrity).

  • Is your process equipment availability declining while repair costs are rising? Is the availability of some of your process equipment waning? Are your process maintenance costs climbing? These could be signs that your process equipment needs more than just repairs. It could be a sign that you need to address your Operating Equipment Effectiveness (OEE).

  • Heating temperature variances. Are you measuring the temperatures within your furnaces and dryers? Do temperatures vary within your process heating? Is your heating process inconsistent at best? Check equipment like dryers and furnaces for inconsistent performance. They could be lowering production quality and increasing energy costs. Check the Hamilton Steel Enercase and learn how new, high-temperature process burners are reducing energy use per ton of output by 7.7%.

  • High stack temperatures are usually a sign that you are missing heat recovery opportunities. You could lower your overall energy costs if you have a heat sink available to capture this valuable resource.  Some places where you can employ your waste heat include a paint booth, water heating, combustion air preheating, process load preheat, and steam generation.

  • Dirty or soot covered heat transfer surfaces. Heat transfer surfaces need to be clean to work properly. Dirty surfaces can’t transfer heat effectively; they reduce efficiency and increase energy costs. For optimum efficiency, keep heat transfer surfaces clean.

  • Absence of combustion air preheating or boiler water preheating. If you’re not pre-heating your combustion air with waste heat you have recovered from your processes, you’re missing an energy saving opportunity. Boiler water can also be preheated with waste heat recovery or through boiler blowdown heat recovery. Look for ways you can put all your waste heat sources to good use. There are several Enercase customer success stories that explore a variety of successful heat recovery projects.

    • Condensate and flue gas heat recovery - Day & Campbell Enercase: This concrete and slag block manufacturer is capturing waste heat from both process condensate and flue gases, reducing natural gas, water and water treatment costs.

    • Condensing heat recovery - Maple Leaf Foods/Rothsay Enercase: Rothsay is maximizing heat recovery at its Moorefield plant by using indirect condensing economizers. The new system has dramatically reduced natural gas consumption by about 700,000 m3 a year.

    • Waste heat recovery - INVISTA Enercase: By employing a glycol loop, waste process heat recovery supplies 50% of building heat requirements for this Kingston fibre producer.

    • Ventilation heat recovery - ArcelorMittal Dofasco Enercase: New ventilation heat recovery is lowering energy costs by about $350,000 a year while increasing warehouse air quality in Dofasco's 60-foot high, 11-acre warehouse.

  • Steam plumes, whatever their size, are sure signs you are losing money. The height of your steam plume and your steam pressure signals the amount of money you are losing every year.  For instance, losses from a 6 ft. steam plume at 115 psig could be about $13,000 a year. Dozens of small plumes may not look like much but together they can add up to thousands of dollars a year. 

    • Steam trap repair and replacement - Imperial Oil Enercase : Learn how a major refinery adopted a systematic steam trap repair and replacement program that dramatically improves performance while saving $3 million a year in energy costs.

    • Steam performance: To learn how much a steam leak could be costing you, check our information on Steam Performance and compare your plant to other plants in your business unit.

    • What are some other signs that your steam system needs help? Are you recovering heat from your condensate heat recovery? Are you extracting all the heat you can from your drain water? If not, you’re missing profit saving opportunities.

  • Damaged, wet or missing insulation could be costing you dollars so repair or replace it. If you have uninsulated surfaces, check them for heat. As a general rule of thumb, if it’s hotter than 120o F (49o C), you need to insulate it. You should also check for building envelope leaks. Are your loading dock doors damaged? Are there bare walls in a heated storage area? These too could be raising your energy costs.

  • Brilliant thermal imaging. A thermal imaging camera can show you where you are losing heat in your plant. Brilliant colour disparities on your infrared camera are a tell-tale sign of heat and money losses. An infrared survey of your plant will show you how to pinpoint your heat losses. Union Gas financial incentives can help pay for an infrared survey. For more information about how a thermal imaging survey paid big dividends for a Union Gas customer, check the AbitibiBowater Enercase. This case study shows how a paper manufacturer used thermal imaging to save hundreds of thousands of dollars with very short paybacks.

Union Gas will pay you to save natural gas
If you are seeing some of these telltale signs in your plant or facility, contact your Union Gas Energy Conservation Advisor. Our staff can conduct a plant walk through and help you identify where you can lower your energy consumption.  

Union Gas financial incentives are available to help Union Gas business customers reduce the amount of natural gas they use. In fact, Union Gas will help pay for some equipment and studies if it will lower your gas consumption.* If you are looking for savings in your plant or facility, contact a Union Gas Energy Conservation Advisor for more information.

More ideas for saving natural gas
Looking for more ways to save? The system brochures below identify potential energy efficiency improvements for your plants and facilities – along with incentives available from Union Gas.

* NOTE: Total incentives cannot exceed $250,000 a year per site. Certain criteria apply for some technologies, contact your Energy Conservation Advisor in your area. Subject to change.