Five Ways to Increase Terminal Efficiency

Efficiency is always a priority for any process, plant, or organization. Creating maximum output while reducing overhead is a core business practice. With so many moving parts in tank terminal operations, there are many places revenue can fall through the cracks. Make sure your operation is sealed tight with these high-impact ways to increase efficiency.

Here are 5 ways to increase your terminal’s efficiency. 

1. Replace boilers with thermal fluid heaters.

Thermal fluid heaters and boilers are essential to the day-to-day operations of facilities in the asphalt, refining, and tank terminal industries. Organizations in these, and other industries, rely heavily on these systems to keep their product warm and pliable for pumping.

While in the past, many plants have chosen steam boilers for their operations, thermal oil heating systems outperform them in a number of ways.

First, the equipment and operational costs of a thermal fluid system are significantly lower than that of a boiler operation. Unlike steam boilers, thermal fluid heaters don’t require a full-time boiler operator. This can save upwards of $80,000 a year. Also with a thermal fluid heater, there is no need for a pretreating skid ($40,000), or deaerator ($10,000), or chemical injection system ($15,000).

Next, thermal fluid is a more efficient and lower maintenance option for heating. Though water is often considered a free resource, there’s much more to it. With a steam boiler, the water pumped through the system will need continuous and expensive water treatment, a condensate collection system, and maintenance of steam traps. Don’t forget that water is highly corrosive, so if the water chemistry is slightly off, the system can corrode quickly. Additionally, water can freeze, so boiler systems require heated buildings (adding costs). If a boiler goes down and ice forms, an entire system can easily be destroyed.

A thermal fluid system (hot oil) eliminates all these headaches and high maintenance costs. There are no steam traps, condensation systems, chemical treatment systems, or blow-down requirements to deal with. Most importantly, oil is not corrosive like water and will not freeze in cold temperatures. It is simply the best way to heat equipment.

Thermal fluid heaters are significantly more consistent and efficient than their alternative heating system counterparts like steam boilers. In addition to decreased operational and energy costs, they are also more environmentally friendly, especially when using a low NOx burner.

While many traditional plant operations use a helical coil thermal fluid heater, operators can increase their efficiency even more with superior serpentine coil thermal fluid heaters. The coil is built serpentine, creating more space between the coils to allow for even heat distribution. With an integrated convection economizer, at 86% efficiency, serpentine coil thermal fluid heaters are some of the most highly efficient heaters on the market.

2. Replace tank fire tubes with bottom-mounted tank coils.

In older facilities, you’ll sometimes find dated and unsafe direct-fired heaters blasting directly into a tank sidewall. One small leak and you’ve got a major safety situation on your hands. In addition, the single flame creates hot spots and cold spots, reducing efficiency. Replacing fire tubes with tank coils also eliminates an emissions source, reducing your carbon footprint.

A much safer and more economical option are tank heating coils mounted to the bottom of a tank. These coils can either be heated with hot oil or steam and can be bare or finned pipes. In most cases, finned is the most efficient way to go as the fins create twelve times the surface area of their bare pipe counterpart. Unlike longitudinal finned pipes whose fins are mounted horizontally, helically wound or vertical fins reduce the risk of coking as any sediments can fall through the fins.

3. Repair or replace old equipment and technology. 

Let’s face it, all equipment has a shelf life. No matter the quality, eventually, it will need to be replaced.

When heating equipment begins to break down, operations may experience problems like process fluid degradation, tube failures, high stack temperatures, high fuel costs, high maintenance costs, and inability to reach optimal fluid temperatures.

By replacing old equipment, often you can quickly pay for the equipment itself with the money saved on fuel, water, and other resources.

 4. Go low NOx on your burners. 

Over the last decade, low NOx has become more of a mainstream practice. NOx is an abbreviation used to describe Nitrogen Oxides, a family of greenhouse gases. When fuel is burned at high heat, nitrogen oxide gases are emitted.

While some operations choose low NOx for their sustainability consciousness, many states and countries now require it. Enerquip’s hot oil heaters can be built with low NOx burners utilizing flue gas recirculation or mesh head burners that can reduce NOx levels to less than 9PPM in total NOx.

5. Invest in tank insulation. 

Especially in colder climates, it can be challenging to maintain the temperature of contents stored in tanks and running through pipes. Often, insulation is an afterthought, but it’s an important piece of this efficiency puzzle. Without proper insulation, valuable heat energy is lost, and it can take much more fuel to heat up the same contents to the desired temperature.

The proper insulation and surface protection will not only protect the thermal properties of the product in the tank, but it will help increase its lifespan. A properly insulated tank will ensure the product inside won’t freeze due to outside temperature or deteriorate due to heat caused by solar radiation.

High-Efficiency Industrial Heating Equipment from Enerquip

Enerquip (and the former American Heating Company) has been manufacturing quality heating equipment for decades. With robust building standards, much of our equipment is still working hard decades later. With continuous process improvement at our core, our equipment has grown with us.

Ready to start talking about strategic equipment planning? Bring us in on the conversation. Contact us or request a quote today.

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