No matter how high-tech your shell and tube exchanger is, the machine will foul at some point. The fouling can be detrimental to your final product, adding contaminants that pose health hazards and affect machine performance. Therefore, you should clean and maintain your shell and tube exchanger to preserve product quality.
How Often Should You Clean the Shell and Tube Heat Exchanger?
According to shell and tube heat exchanger manufacturers, you should clean the machine every one to three years. The timeframe hugely depends on the size and type of cleaning service. Common cleaning methods include chemical cleaning, hydro blasting, and mechanical cleaning.
However, apart from the timeframe, you can also decide when to clean your shell and tube heat exchanger. For example, it might be time to find cleaning services when your heat exchanger doesn’t achieve the correct heating and cooling temperature.
In fact, creating a personal cleaning schedule is better because you have time to plan. These heat exchangers are an integral part of the manufacturing process, and cleaning shell and tube heat exchangers means stopping production. As a result, you will go offline for some time, which affects production and can lead to losses.
Things to Consider Before Cleaning A Shell and Tube Heat Exchanger
As mentioned above, cleaning your shell and tube heat exchanger is crucial for production. However, shutting down machinery can cost your company hundreds of thousands. Therefore, before you schedule a cleaning day, here are the top things to consider.
You understand the plant’s production cycle better than any cleaning company. Therefore, you should factor in your busy days, slow days, and all the holidays. Once you know how the cycle operates, it is easier to set a date that doesn’t affect production in a significant way.
You can go offline on slow days or long weekends, eliminating extra pressure on your employees. However, some heavy engineering companies in India cannot risk going offline for long. In such instances, you can clean the heat exchanger in phases and prioritize regular maintenance.
Cleaning shell and tube heat exchangers is not cheap. In fact, the more the foul builds up, the higher the cost of operation. In addition, if the clean-up process requires more energy and resources, the cleaning company will increase charges. Remember, the process also includes restoring heat transfer rates and the rate of production.
Therefore, as you consider the production cycle, make sure the heat exchanger is not extremely compromised. Furthermore, high foul build-ups can destroy the heat exchanger, adding repair charges to the mix.
The Cleaning Method
You can clean shell and tube heat exchangers using three distinct methods; chemical cleaning, mechanical cleaning, or hydro blasting. Here is a description of the popular cleaning methods.
- Chemical cleaning involves creating a cleaning fluid using chemicals and adding circulating the fluid inside the heat exchanger to remove or dissolve contaminants. The method is effective because you don’t have to dismantle the heat exchanger. However, chemical cleaning poses a hazardous environmental threat because of the strong chemicals.
- In hydro blasting, the cleaner will inject jets of water into the heat exchanger at high pressure. This process allows you to clean multiple tubes simultaneously, which is time-saving. However, the downside is that you will spend more time dismantling the heat exchanger and assembling them after cleaning. In addition, hydro blasting can be dangerous because of the high pressure, and it doesn’t always guarantee sparkling clean machines.
- Mechanical cleaning involves the use of specialized tools to remove fouling contaminants. For example, you can use a brush, drill, or scrubbing agent. This method is gaining popularity because it doesn’t involve toxic chemicals or high water pressure. Moreover, you can target specific areas, which ensures precise cleaning. The downside is that mechanical cleaning takes a lot of time, and you will dismantle the entire unit.
Overall, choosing the cleaning method will depend on your budget and the amount of time you’re willing to sacrifice being offline.
Cleaning the shell and tube heat exchanger is not a spur-of-the-moment decision. You must plan accordingly and find a reliable cleaning company to complete the job. However, to avoid frequent fouling, prioritize maintenance and reach out to heavy machinery experts like Godrej for extra help.
You will get maintenance advice and find high-quality equipment that doesn’t require frequent cleaning.