Business impact for HeatHamster partners

This article is for the companies working in the pulp & paper industry, doing maintenance, clean-ups and selling chemicals for heat exchangers and other energy intensive parts of the process.

As you know, a typical pulp & paper mill has dozens or hundreds of heat exchangers and other equipment, through which heat energy flows. Fouling of this equipment is unpredictable. As a result, 40-70 % of produced heat energy is wasted. This means 2-3 million € of lost energy each year for a typical mill.

To re-capture these lost profits, clean-ups need to be performed. At the correct time, with effective methods and using the right chemicals. 

If this is your business, you might also find our other articles interesting.

This article, however, discusses how the data-driven predictive maintenance helps you improve YOUR business. We will discuss how you can make a greater impact to your customer’s energy recovery. We will also discuss how the data-driven approach helps you to show the value of your work. And sell more.

If this introduction got your interest, you are most probably a potential HeatHamster partner. To ensure a worriless reading, you need to know that being a HeatHamster partner is completely free for you. We have the same customer. We have the same target. When you succeed, we succeed. 

Win-win-win. No hidden agenda. So, buckle up and enjoy the ride.

Preventive vs. predictive maintenance

Before going to the practical issues of improving your business, let’s take a quick review on the basic philosophy behind the whole thing.

There are three basic approaches for doing maintenance and clean-ups. Reactive maintenance means that you fix the piece of equipment when it is broken. With heat exchangers, this means that you clean a heat exchanger when it starts to create problems.

Preventive maintenance aims to prevent future failures by scheduling the clean-ups ahead of time. You might clean a large process critical heat exchanger every month and a small non-critical heat exchanger every September.

These both traditional approaches lead to unnecessary costs. In reactive maintenance you don’t do unnecessary work, but since the problem has already occurred, the problem creates failure costs. Scheduled preventive maintenance, on the other hand, leads to over-maintenance costs. Prevention costs increase when you do a clean-up when it is not needed. 

Without real-time data, the actual result is a combination of these two. You do needles clean-ups and still have the failure costs from other heat exchangers.

Predictive maintenance is often called as ‘condition-based maintenance’. The aim is to prevent the failures, but instead of blind calendar time, the clean-up is scheduled by real-time fouling-% measurement. This way you do all the needed clean-ups, but only when really needed.

The traditional view on the ‘total cost of maintenance’ was about finding the optimal prevention level by balancing the failure costs and maintenance costs. Due to the development in data collection and processing, the modern view states that 100 % prevention is always the best.

You can read more from the article Predictive Maintenance for Heat Exchangers.

Data helps you to make the right technical choices

Just for the sake of the game, let’s assume you agree on the previous chapter and would be interested in what predictive maintenance means in practice.

Simply put, it means that you use real-time data-based information on making the right technical choices.

First question is which heat exchanger needs attention. You open a web browser and log into the HeatHamster web app. All your customer’s heat exchangers are shown in the list. If you see a red traffic light, this means that your attention is needed. Click it and you will see why it has a warning. Fouling-% measurement might have exceeded the limits. A planned clean-up has not been performed on time. Or no clean-up has been planned. 

Next question is when to perform a clean-up. Here the situation becomes tricky for traditional methods. Each clean-up has a cost, sometimes up to dozens of thousands of Euros. How low can the fouling-% be to justify the clean-up cost? Or does the fouling even affect the energy consumption of the mill? And is a quick one-side CIP clean-up enough or is a bigger operation needed?

This is where HeatHamster’s mathematical mind comes to help you. HeatHamster shows how much each clean-up will save energy profits, in Euros per day. HeatHamster also knows the clean-up cost, so it tells you the payback time of the clean-up. And it also predicts how much more profits your customer will make with the clean-up plan you have made.

The picture below shows how a predictive clean-up plan turns red into green. This means lost energy into profits. With these three clean-ups your customer will make 167 000 € more yearly profits with this one heat exchanger.

Showing the value of your work 

After several hours of working hard cleaning a heat exchanger, it’s time to go home. You would probably like to know the impact of your work. Did the chemicals work properly? Did you remove the fouling completely? Does it recover more energy?

And when it’s time to send the customer your bill, does your customer see it as a mandatory cost? Or is your invoice an investment, which pays itself quickly back?

As a HeatHamster partner you don’t need to guess. You will have a clear answer to these questions immediately from the real-time data.

You can see if the flow rate improved, if the temperature changed or if the pressure went to normal. But most importantly, you will see how many Euros your customer will make each day because of your good work.

The graph below shows, that after performing a clean-up, the cold-side flow rate increased from 15 l/s to 80 l/s. But most importantly the red columns in the graph turned to green, meaning that this heat exchanger makes 827 € worth of energy to the customer every day. So, your 5 k€ clean-up was paid back in less than 6 days, as seen from the black columns.

Now, when your customer looks at these same graphs, it is obvious that your good work was a valuable investment. Not just as a feeling, but in numbers with €-signs.

There are also some cases, where the data shows that the result wasn’t good enough. This is good to know and correct before your customer complains about bad work. The difference between a “cleaned” and a “clean” heat exchanger -article tells a story of a failure turning into a big victory.

Selling more with better profits

You probably have well established customer relationships. You might have routines where you do the clean-ups for the same heat exchangers every year. But what if you want to sell more? Or increase the price of your good work?

Selling more with better profits might be problematic for two reasons. 

  • First, it might be difficult to explain why also the other heat exchangers should be cleaned. If the process works, it might be difficult to argument that a 20 k€ clean-up of a non-critical heat exchanger is worth the cost. 
  • Second, when you discuss about the price, your customer might say that other companies offer the same work with cheaper price. Is their work as good quality as yours? Does it have the same impact? These are questions hard to prove…

As a HeatHamster partner, you have good answers to all these questions.

First, you will have a map of all your customer’s heat exchangers. You and your customer can see how much more profits each heat exchanger will create if they are cleaned properly. Or how much money is lost if they are not cleaned. This should be a good argument for you to sell all the needed work.

Second, you don’t need to guess how good your work has been. By looking at the web app with your customer, you both can agree that last year your work resulted in 653 900 € more profits for your customer. 

Probably your customer asks if we can double the profits next year. At this point of time, you should have a good answer to that question…

Being a HeatHamster partner in practice

Sound interesting? 

As a HeatHamster partner you will have access to everything described in this article and a lot more. Without any costs. Not even any hidden costs. We will take care of implementing the measurements, collecting the data and all the IT-stuff.

We have worked hard in making HeatHamster a true win-win-win cooperation for you and us. And for our common customer, the pulp & paper mills.

Still, you might ask how a typical work week looks like if you were a HeatHamster partner?

Well, pretty similar to your typical work week before being a HeatHamster partner. But in addition, we would have a weekly Teams meeting where we would discuss your next clean-ups. We might provide some insights and learnings from similar operations in other countries. Or if there is a difficult technical question, we might connect you with an expert in our partner network. And we always discuss how to improve our cooperation in the future.

And of course, we might ask you if you have time to work in other customer cases where we don’t have a partner yet.

If this got your interest, please click below. Or call us. Or email us. Whatever works best for you.

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