How a Plant Manager’s HVAC Problems Can Spark Product Innovation

If you’re a plant operations or maintenance manager, then you’re inherently a problem solver too. So when a big problem comes along, it’s tempting to feel as if you have to figure it out on your own.

This type of problem solving can be a relatively slow and stressful process when the equipment at risk is worth millions of dollars, and a trial and error approach is unacceptable. That’s where expanding your knowledge base and knowing who to trust becomes invaluable.

For example, when the plant manager at Bartlett Nuclear Inc. needed to improve an inefficient HEPA vacuum cleaning process for radioactive waste, he searched for a solution. The problem? The process required a lot of vacuums and some frustrating downtime. Full vacuum units had to be taken offsite to an appropriate radioactive waste disposal site and emptied. The head and the bottom unit then underwent thorough cleaning and were tested according to strict decontamination regulations before being returned for reuse. This increased downtime and added to labor costs.

Because no suitable vacuum cleaner existed, Bartlett Nuclear Inc. turned to Goodway, which listened carefully to their needs and designed a more efficient vacuum to suit those requirements.

Goodway’s innovations included placing dual motors on the bottom, adding a wider wheelbase, and a quick-swap containment tank. The result? This first model’s separate containment tanks saved time and money while maintaining the required safety standards, enabling the company to be more productive. Since then, further refinements have led to best in class design of their current models.

Here’s another example of how a plant manager’s problem sparked innovative solutions. When a large landfill was losing money due to lost methane sales, Goodway sent in Ray Field, their Director of Liquid Solutions.After gathering valuable data, Field identified the best solution of Scale Break. And just as well. Field recognized the formulation of the leachate, but a less knowledgeable person may have filled it with a gypsum-forming product and destroyed the whole system.

Field also knows that not all descalers are created equal. For example, the big engines that keep semi-submersible oil rigs in place never stop, and because of that they get hot. Cooling them with sea water means rapid scaling. But their plate-and-frame design is made of stainless steel, so throwing the wrong descaler at the problem will cause disastrous corrosion. By leveraging Goodway expertise, the client was provided with a selected Scale Break formulation that reduced risk and saved money.

Finally,  scalebreak gel is another example of your HVAC problem may spark innovative products. After a large number of contractors continued applying liquid descalers unsafely and attempted to spray directly onto fill, Goodway developed and patented a gel formula for use on cooling tower fill; Problem identified and solved.

As a facility manager, know that you don’t have to solve your problems alone. Reach out to your current industrial maintenance and cleaning solutions provider or other knowledgeable members of your network. You’ll likely get the provider’s full attention, some helpful consultation, and perhaps inspire a customized product or solution.

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