Onsite trials: a low-risk approach to proof of concept
By Matt Hale, International Sales & Marketing Director, HRS Heat Exchangers
Wednesday, 20 November, 2019
There is a lot of truth to the old saying ‘seeing is believing’. There’s nothing like seeing the results with your own eyes in order to tell whether or not a trial has been successful; if new equipment delivers everything that you hoped for; or if changes to production have delivered the expected improvements in quality. Trials are invaluable for assessing product quality parameters, testing system designs and environmental performance, consumer research, or producing samples for chemical or microbial analysis, or even assessing the feasibility of a particular process.
Due to the complexity of modern waste treatment and environmental processes, it can be hard to assess multiple options and the processing of small batches. That’s why HRS has developed a range of portable and trial units that allow clients to test a variety of equipment including tubular and scraped surface heat exchangers and pilot evaporation plants.
Trialling treatment techniques
In cases where a successful treatment process is already in place, making changes can provide cost savings or other financial and environmental improvements, but it is not without risks. Before making wholesale changes — for example, altering the temperature and time regimes for an evaporation process — it can be reassuring to find out what the effect on both the end material and the overall process will be. After all, nobody wants to invest in major changes to production equipment that have to be reversed due to adverse environmental outcomes.
One way to do this with heat exchangers is with a trial unit for in situ testing of equipment, or by performing trials and analysis on materials and waste streams at the client’s own facility. These types of trial not only help to inform the design of the heat exchanger, but can also provide buyers and users with the confidence to invest in, and install, new equipment.
Advantages of trialling products
In today’s competitive market, companies, their clients and consumers are all looking for the next trend. However, the environmental performance of businesses is now often as important as the products themselves, so staying up to date with the latest waste treatment techniques and infrastructure is crucial.
In some markets, trials are required for processes to be approved prior to licensing; for example, where wastewater streams are discharged to the environment. Trials also allow potential treatment issues or glitches to be identified and rectified before investing in a full-size facility and can even inform assessments such as Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) before full-scale installation.
Equipment to facilitate in-house trials
Buying dedicated equipment for trials can be prohibitively expensive. However, good equipment that is flexible enough to be used for a wide variety of trial and production purposes can quickly repay the initial investment. To facilitate this type of trial, HRS has produced a range of trial-size equipment with the reliability and performance of their full-size counterparts, but which have been specifically designed to be easily portable between sites.
The modular nature of many HRS heat exchangers means that we can also provide trial units of many of our heat exchanger models. Recent examples include using trial versions of the HRS R Series of scraped surface heat exchangers. In each case mounting the trial heat exchanger and relevant controls on pallets or a purpose-designed suitable skid frame not only aids delivery and installation of the equipment, but makes it easier to move around production facilities; for example, to investigate the use of different lines and possible installation locations.
Evaporation is often a key part of waste stream processing and HRS has trial evaporator units available that can be configured for a wide range of waste treatment applications. Investing in any new processing equipment not only represents a significant capital outlay, but results in inevitable disruption during installation. However, by trialling equipment prior to investment both users and manufacturers can be sure that the best solution has been chosen.
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