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Article Date: 21st September 2016

Spirax Sarco - Johnson Matthey Overhauls Steam Distribution Network

Johnson Matthey - Steam Distribution - Office Heating - Steam Plant

Spirax Sarco - Johnson Matthey

Chemical specialist Johnson Matthey has overhauled the steam distribution network at its Billingham plant, saving approximately £60,000 per annum on heat losses alone, as well as significantly reducing maintenance costs.

The Billingham site’s processes and office heating was supplied by a neighbouring facility via an oversized steam line - 36 inches in diameter and more than 1000m in length - which also lacked adequate steam traps. Crucially, the original system was not equipped with isolation valves either, which meant Johnson Matthey’s maintenance teams were unable to shut down or isolate the flow of steam.

Spirax Sarco - Johnson Matthey - A section of original pipeRegular flange leaks were also leading to expensive maintenance bills and, overall, the plant was suffering from heat losses amounting to more than £130,000 per year. Johnson Matthey therefore set out to overhaul its steam distribution network during the site’s summer shutdown period, with support from Spirax Sarco.

As part of this pilot scheme – designed to explore the potential value of proactive steam system maintenance – Spirax Sarco worked alongside Johnson Matthey’s on-site operations and maintenance teams to reduce the length of steam line to approximately 25 per cent of its original length, before replacing the old 36 inch steam pipe with a new pipe of 8 inch and 4 inch sections.

Spirax Sarco - Johnson Matthey  - Original PipeThis was followed by the introduction of new control and automation devices, including steam traps, dirt pockets and pressure indicators to improve the flexibility of use, and isolation valves offering much greater control of the steam supply itself.

Chris McHale, Gas Services and Operations Team Leader at Johnson Matthey, commented: "The lesson we’ve taken from this project is that there are huge rewards to be had by challenging the way things have always been done. Replacing a dated and problematic steam line with one much better suited to our current application may sound basic but the cost, usability and safety benefits have proved second to none."

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