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One simple step can drastically cut industrial water usage

Home Engineering Engineering & Allied Supplies One simple step can drastically cut industrial water usage

MONITOR Engineering, the sole agent for Spraying Systems Co USA offers a free sustainability audit that helps companies to plug water-wasting practices that have made manufacturers and food producers the country’s biggest consumers — and in many cases, abusers — of scarce fresh water resources.

In the food and beverage processing industry, water is the secret ingredient. Between cleaning, heat transfer, sanitation, and processing applications. It is estimated that the food industry uses about 1 litre of water to produce just one calorie of food that is consumed.

If that is multiplied, a 500 calorie lunch would use about 500 litres of water before it is prepared.

Breaking these water consumption estimates down across the rest of the industrial sector, the manufacturing industry seems to be using a disproportionately large share of the country’s fresh water resource.

According to a whitepaper published by Spraying Systems Co., manufacturers in the USA use about 45% of the country’s fresh water, while only 18% is consumed by domestic users.

In the manufacturing and processing industries where costs and conservation are paramount, the high volumes consumed should be regarded as anomalies.

For example, there is a mindset in the food processing industry that, when in doubt, use more water. If there’s doubt about whether the water is clean, if there’s doubt about whether it’s sanitised, in many cases, the solution is to just use more water. It’s a commodity, after all.

Water costs are rising but this is only part of the overall cost of consumption. In addition to the cost of the water itself, chemical usage also needs to be factored in, as well as the energy used to heat it, and the treatment and disposal of the water. Add all these costs up, and they become substantial.

Monitor Engineering is on the frontline, assisting customers to reign in these costs and, at the same time, reduce industrial water consumption.

“We do this through a service provided by Monitor that sends local sales engineers into plants around the country for a free top-to-bottom water usage assessment,” says Monitor Engineering managing director, Grant Orsmond.

“During these assessments we uncover a wide range of issues and mindsets regarding water usage, working with sophisticated plants that provide years of water bills and usage records and others that can’t even locate their water meter.

“But what surprises us the most in this experience, are the simplest things plants haven’t done to shore up water flow,” says Orsmond.

Orsmond says that one of the things they frequently find in food plants is the unnecessary number of open hoses.”You will just have a ball valve on the end of a hose functioning as a spray gun, and it’s left wide open.”

These open-hose systems can flow in excess of 75 litres per minute out of every hose — often more than twice the amount that is required.

To illustrate the volume of waste that this produces, a study published in the previously mentioned white paper, describes how a turkey processing plant in the USA participated in Spraying Systems Co.’s water assessment program. Before the assessment, the plant was using 15 open-end sanitation hoses spraying eight hours a day, five days a week, 50 weeks a year. That adds up to an annual water consumption of around 473 million litres.

To cut water usage, Spraying Systems Co. introduced their CU150 GunJet Spray Gun to the plant — an ergonomic, lightweight gun, that provides spray capacities with the feel operators like and expect. The fix in this example was fairly simple as a spray gun was attached to the end of the hoses to cut the flow. With no more than a dozen or so spray guns, the plant brought its daily water consumption down by over 64,000 litres per day. That results in an annualised saving of over 15 million litres of water, plus all of the additional heating, chemical, and disposal costs. Altogether, that translated to an annual savings of over US$30,000 which is a salary’s worth of saving for the cost of 15 spray guns.

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