Boilers in industrial settings are critical equipment for companies specialising in producing food, chemicals and more. However, when users don’t take ongoing boiler safety precautions, there’s an elevated chance of unplanned downtime, accidents or worse. Maintaining boiler safety requires an all-encompassing approach. Here are some tips not to overlook.
Know the Factors Influencing Boiler Safety
Boilers have inherent risks, but factors within a company and associated with the equipment can cause safety issues. For example, the threats are often greater if a business has an aging workforce, high turnover rate or both. People need hands-on experience and job-specific training to become comfortable around and competent with boilers. Safety refreshers will keep their knowledge current and reduce the chances they forget essential steps.
The most effective boiler safety programs typically include self-audits to verify code compliance and look for other aspects that could make the equipment unsafe. For example, boilers have numerous internal safety features. However, inadequate maintenance could mean they don’t function properly in an emergency.
The safety valve is a good example. It relieves internal pressure during certain internal failures. However, corrosion or flow restrictions within the valve or its piping could make the safety valve not work as expected. Similarly, sludge buildup could mean the water-level control and low-water fuel cutoff fail to detect that the boiler doesn’t have enough fluid to operate correctly and safely.
Boilers require one to two inspections each year. However, maintaining boiler safety means performing upkeep outside of those in-depth checks. Otherwise, there’s a heightened risk of things going wrong and putting people in danger.
Having an unqualified person check a boiler can put it at risk. Many company representatives build long-term working relationships with the professionals that service their industrial equipment. However, when the need arises to work with someone for the first time, it’s essential to verify that they have the knowledge, experience, and credentials to do the job thoroughly and correctly.
Understand the Symptoms of Boiler Trouble and Act Promptly
A vital part of maintaining boiler safety is recognizing the signs that something is wrong and the equipment may fail without intervention. One of the earliest symptoms of problems is often unusual noises. Those could include knocking and banging sounds within pipes or a phenomenon called kettling, where the water sounds like it’s at a full boil. That’s an indicator the boiler is working harder than it should, possibly because of a failing component.
Issues like water around the boiler’s base or black scorch marks near it are signs of a leak or overheating. The scorching could also indicate an electrical problem with the boiler, necessitating professional investigation in any case.
Reacting in a way that upholds boiler safety at a company is a two-pronged effort. First, it requires getting a professional to check the equipment soon after strange symptoms are reported. Sometimes, people assume an issue is not severe or will resolve without intervention. Both those lines of thought could lead to accidents and other complications.
Additionally, decision-makers must commit to using the appropriate, high-quality parts when ordering and installing necessary replacements. Does the boiler need a new condensate pump? Purchasers must consider various factors, such as the receive size, horsepower and pump configuration. Understanding specifications is critical for purchasing the right components and supporting safe operation.
Consider Maintaining Boiler Safety With Robots
Robots have been game-changers in many industries, and their potential use cases extend to numerous scenarios. For example, glaucoma surgeries can become up to 40% more accurate when patients have the procedures done with robot-assisted systems.
Specialised robots could also become integral to better boiler safety. Even the most advanced machines cannot and should not replace human expertise. However, high-tech bots may pick up on things people might miss.
In one instance, a Finnish renewable energy technology manufacturer uses robots to inspect circulating fluidized bed and bubbling fluidized bed boilers. The machines use rapid ultrasonic gridding to identify corrosion and other instances of wall thinning in a boiler.
The associated data reportedly helps decision-makers more confidently diagnose equipment information and predict a boiler’s remaining life span. Both those benefits are important parts of maintaining boiler safety. A representative from the robotics provider also said the technology helps companies minimise injury and death rates.
People responsible for boiler safety procedures should take the time to assess how robots could fit into current processes. Machines capturing more boiler details and saving time could pay off in the long term.
Maintaining Boiler Safety Is a Team Effort
These are essential pointers for ensuring a boiler continues working safely throughout its life span. It’s also valuable if company leaders emphasize how everyone plays a role in stopping malfunctions.
A person’s job may not require working around or with boilers frequently. However, someone who notices something strange while passing industrial equipment should speak to the appropriate parties. It’s less likely dangerous problems will arise or get missed when employees remain aware.