Process heating installations, from ovens to direct fired tank heating systems, all benefit from close attention being paid at the time of installation to regular maintenance inspections and servicing.  Optimising performance, operational effectiveness and energy efficiency can often best be achieved by a programme of regular assessment and, where necessary, routine replacement of key components – factors which should all be considered from the start.   

Lanemark Combustion Engineering Ltd. has been heavily involved in this field since the 1970’s and the company’s gas fired process heating systems are found in applications as diverse as ceramic manufacturing and metal pre-treatment lines to food and beverage production.  As Sales Director, Jeff Foster explains, maintenance requirements should be one of the central issues when burner installation layouts and configurations are being assessed – and the company’s latest oven and dryer burner designs are a direct reaction to this need.

“We recommend, as a minimum, an annual service of our equipment by a suitably qualified person, with more frequent servicing undertaken to reflect variables such as the frequency of use of the equipment, the environmental conditions in which it is sited and the type of fuel used,” he says.  Formal service agreements can often provide a reliable structure in this context, with frequency agreed to suit company production needs.  “Preventative maintenance of this type can be very cost effective as production is paramount and down time expensive,” he points out.

Basic burner maintenance and fault diagnosis training can also significantly reduce any disruption should a combustion problem develop, as can the availability of essential recommended spares.

“Typically, process heating systems will call for regular maintenance procedures in a number of key areas during their operational lifetime,” continues Jeff Foster.  “During each service visit, an initial pre-service check should be carried out to identify any burner performance issues, with each assembly then dismantled for internal cleaning, and for the replacement of any defective or worn parts such as ignition and flame sensing electrodes.”  At the same time, he believes all gas pipe-work and gas valves should be checked for gas tightness, with moving combustion air fan components cleaned or replaced as required.  “Following re-assembly each burner system should be tested and all relevant burner settings and combustion measurements recorded,” he adds.

Lanemark believes that the need for continuous evaluation of each process burner design is a further key consideration and one which characterises successful system suppliers in the industrial gas combustion industry.  This reflects increasing demand for production efficiency and factors such as ever more stringent environmental obligations – particularly in terms of emission control.  Here too, simplifying maintenance procedures can have a direct bearing – an approach that is reflected in one of the company’s latest innovations, as Jeff Foster continues.

“Our packaged process oven and dryer burners – Lanemark FD and FDB series – may often need to be installed in elevated production environments, which are particularly challenging in terms of location and accessibility,” he says.

“Our latest generation burner system – the FD Mark 6 – is the first to feature a design that not only addresses this location issue but is also configured to simplify maintenance,” he continues.  “Most strikingly, a choice of more than 18 gas valve train and control panel orientations ensures that each burner can be positioned to enable optimum access for inspection and regular maintenance.”

The latest innovation also sees the wind box rotated through 180° to allow the combustion fan to be mounted above the burner, thus providing easier access for servicing.  Additionally, a larger glass inspection port increases the cone and flame viewing area while simplifying the replacement of ignition and flame sensing electrodes.  These themselves have been extended using one common bulkhead fitting which is then connected to the current flame sense and ignition electrodes as used on previous versions – reflecting the benefits of ‘backward system compatibility’.  Even the control panels have been increased in size to provide easier access to terminals, components and fittings.

Whichever process heating system is specified – and there is an extensive choice to meet a vast range of operating requirements – there is a clear message that Jeff Foster believes should be heavily underlined.  “The focus is inevitably on the long list of appropriate considerations relevant to the initial installation,” he says, “but by also paying close attention to ongoing maintenance needs in the very early stages, companies can not only optimise this vital procedure but also, of course, minimise long term associated costs.  With the benefit of a planned scheme, this can become an area of process operation that runs smoothly and without issues for many years into the future.”