Process Cooling and HVAC for Higher Performance Manufacturing Plants

Plant cooling.

Systems performance in manufacturing has the attention of businesses, and  with good reason as energy prices continue to rise. Organizations are focused on doing more with less, improving productivity, shrinking their environmental footprint, and spending scarce capital budgets in ways that will provide the best return on investment.

Manufacturers can use significant amounts of energy to meet the unique climate control of their facilities, which often include very large indoor production spaces. In addition, the equipment used in the manufacturing process typically consumes a significant amount of energy and can have a huge impact on the indoor environment in production spaces.

For some manufacturers, strict temperature control must be maintained during the manufacturing process to ensure the correct specifications of the final product. For these environments, a robust climate control system designed around built-for-process chillers are required to prevent product loss and maintain quality control requirements during the manufacturing process. In environments where the manufacturing process is labour-intensive, maintaining critical space conditions is also a must for workers to be productive, comfortable and safe.

When thinking of high-performance manufacturing plants, the above puts the spotlight on the HVAC and process cooling systems.

 High performance building standards in manufacturing - the HVAC and process cooling element

At their essence, high performance buildings are designed and operated to meet specific standards for energy consumption, water use, system reliability and uptime, environmental performance, indoor air quality, noise levels, occupant health and comfort, and other mission-essential factors. Operating standards are set, measured, and continually validated to deliver established outcomes within specific tolerances. The standards vary depending on every organization’s mission.

Because manufacturing facilities have especially high energy demands and HVAC and process cooling are a big part of that equation, manufacturers should work closely with industry experts. Together they can develop solutions that can deliver a comfortable and productive working environment within specified tolerances required by the manufacturer while having in mind the expected systems performances and efficiencies that can increase energy savings, leading to lower production costs and increased profitability.

Experts in the high-performance HVAC and process cooling can work with new and existing facilities and combine financial, operating and energy analysis to address a facility’s critical performance elements. With that they can find the right approach to temperature control solutions and apply economic values in order to quantify improvements and assure results. This also includes selecting the right equipment. High performance buildings need accurate close temperature control and can benefit from process-specific equipment such as the i-chiller, which achieves better performances than standard HVAC units.

The business improvement potential of applying the HVAC and process cooling elements within high performance building standards is well documented.

One of our customers, a global consumer goods manufacturer completed energy-saving infrastructure upgrades in their plant, which increase uptime and reliability and provide a safer, more comfortable and more productive environment for workers, while saving hundreds of thousands of GBP in energy costs. As part of the process, leaders selected a comprehensive HVAC and process cooling solution that replaced the facility’s chilled water plant, along with management system and controls, and accompanied by centralized, continuous service. They expect to recoup their investment in infrastructure upgrades a little more than two years after completion.

What else is there other than investing in temperature control equipment? Hire or subscribe flexibly.

As mentioned at the beginning of the article, organizations are focused on doing more with less, which also means counting every penny in their capital budgets to ensure the expenditure will provide the best return on investment. This applies to the HVAC and process cooling systems in the same way as to any other element of the plant.

Dave Palmer
Dave Palmer

When Capital expenditure (Capex) is an issue, and it proves to be true more and more in real life, finding a partner and expert capable to design or redesign your cooling systems, one that would then remain as your service provider, is much more important than finding and purchasing the right chiller. Partnering with an expert process cooling company opens the door to more investment options and opportunities to enhance your process cooling and HVAC systems.

One alternative to capital investment in a way of purchasing and installing a fixed HVAC and process cooling equipment is hire. Renting equipment is a straightforward process. The rental service provider’s local contact will work with you to determine your needs and will provide a proposal to meet those needs for periods that can stretch over years.

Once you sign off on the proposal, the needed equipment will be mobilized and set-up on site on your schedule by the specialised rental service provider itself. Should any challenges arise with the rental equipment during the rental period, your local contact is available to help resolve them. If maintenance is needed for rental equipment, the rental service provider should be able to provide a technician to execute any needed repairs.

New rental scheme options

There are also new options in the rental schemes now available that give manufacturers additional flexibility in choosing their equipment. A membership or subscription type of a long-term rental agreement offers manufacturers access to the latest process temperature control technology, maintenance, and equipment upgrades – all with the flexibility of an operating expense. With the subscription model, manufacturers can transform their process temperature control system from a fixed asset into a dynamic solution that will be up-to-date with their changing business and process needs.

This type of a complete HVAC and process temperature control packaged solution includes equipment, preventive and 24/7 emergency maintenance, replacements, and upgrades. The elements of the all-inclusive, monthly rate contract are tailored to the process’ needs and based on a detailed assessment by the service provider’s engineers. Manufacturers receive the right temperature control solutions for their process needs with the flexibility to adapt their capacity according to changing seasonal and operational requirements. They get bespoke systems installed in their processes – with no upfront cost and capital investment. They only pay for the temperature control they need and when they need it.

Unlike in the case of a traditional long-term hire, they benefit from the flexibility to exchange and upgrade the equipment as their requirements change or technology improves. Adding to this the peace of mind of complete maintenance and contingency plans.

To summarise, manufacturers can realise a wide range of benefits by adopting high performance technologies and practices that are widely available today. They can consider new technologies, solutions, services and financing options that open the door to improving their plant’s HVAC and process cooling systems’ efficiencies. With that they can keep their operations running at the highest level of performance while reducing lifecycle costs and thus allowing to invest in other priorities.

Dave Palmer is General Manager for the UK and Ireland at ICS Cool Energy 

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