Steam, as a thermal energy source, has been integral in multiple industrial processes since the 17th century. As such, its application has extended to steam locomotives, processing facilities, refineries, chemical plants, hospitals; as well as the food and beverage and textile sectors.
The use of steam boilers is particularly popular in South African industry currently, with this versatile, flexible and cost-effective source of energy storage used in applications such as heating, sterilisation and turbine propulsion, among others.
As steam can also easily be distributed to each point of use via a steam boiler, these are frequently preferred to other energy storage media.
In light of this, Rand-Air – an established leader in the field of air, nitrogen, power, flow (pumps) and lighting solutions, and part of the global Atlas Copco Specialty Rental division, has earmarked steam boilers as a vital rental solution for the local market.
“Steam, as a significant energy source, is essential in industrial processes and systems. Steam boilers are therefore commonly considered to be an essential component of process plants,” explains Rand-Air Area Manager for KwaZulu-Natal Rudi De Vry.
“Should a breakdown occur, the production losses could potentially be substantial. Therefore, as part of Rand-Air’s central ethos of ‘making agility count’, we aim to support customers’ industrial operations through the use of this innovative new solution!”
Consequently, Rand-Air offers a well-planned and strategic steam boiler rental solution which provides swift, yet reliable 24/7 availability for the production process.
“This guarantees that downtime is reduced while safety remains our top priority – keeping the ‘heart’ of the process plant beating!” emphasises De Vry.
He furthermore advises that Rand-Air’s steam boiler rental solution, planned to suit a range of customers and industry sectors, came about through the company’s comprehensive market research, and the concerted teamwork of De Vry and seasoned sales representatives for KwaZulu-Natal Natlee Bennie and Liesel Johnson.
The team’s research was aided by the expertise of their Atlas Copco colleagues internationally; as well as various engineers and boiler specialists. This new market offering was also motivated by Rand-Air’s strong and long-standing customer relationships, which the company sought to further enhance through the provision of this solution.
“In finding the market demand and, by earmarking specific boilers which are appropriate for current and potential customers as short-or long-term hires, Rand-Air can now offer a streamlined turnkey steam boiler solution,” emphasises Bennie.
“The steam boilers, which are manufactured by Atlas Copco, complement our existing product portfolio of TUV-certified oil-free, diesel or electric air solutions; nitrogen solutions; power, flow (pumps) and lighting solutions, ensuring a diversified, yet comprehensive solution for customers,” she adds.
Adaptable and innovative
The steam boiler offering currently comprises three-ton-an-hour steam boilers with a service pressure of 14 bar and a design pressure of 16 bar. However, the company will expand this offering in future to service projects or market demand for larger sizes, Bennie notes.
The three-ton-an-hour steam boiler is fully integrated into a 20-foot container, (which can be shipped in break bulk) and includes the burner, the Programmable Logic Control (PLC) unit to monitor the boiler processes, as well as the blow-down tank.
“Features of the boilers include full portability and modularity, with each solution customisable and adaptable to customers’ specific requirements, while following the same core design,” adds Bennie.
The rental offering will also include burners with a dual-fuel capability – natural gas-firing and light fuel oil-firing.
Furthermore, all the hydraulic connections are located at the back of the container to simplify coupling on site.
This design therefore ensures a simple, yet swift and effective solution, in the form of a ‘plug-and-play’ set-up for optimal uptime – another important benefit for customers, De Vry explains.
“There are minimal complexities in terms of installation and commissioning, as we only need to connect the boilers into the customer’s current steam supply, electricity, feed water supply and fuel source. This is beneficial – and vital – particularly when customers are faced with an emergency,” he points out.
Nevertheless, with every installation, Rand-Air is cognisant of customers’ operations and how the boilers will fit into their specific application, says Johnson.
“We strive to comprehensively understand each customer’s current process and set-up requirements, taking into consideration the piping systems, fuel source, and the type of burners used – among other elements – to determine and provide the best customised solution,” she explains.
As part of the company’s customer service, Rand-Air will also provide 24/7 technical assistance from a team of skilled technicians and expert advice; as well as national and global support during the hire.
Breakdowns or planned maintenance
“We have furthermore embarked on a dedicated customer education campaign, spreading awareness of this steam boiler solution, to provide customers with an effective alternative rental solution when faced with unplanned downtime or scheduled maintenance,” De Vry points out.
Johnson agrees, further enthusing that: “These steam boilers, as an operational contingency, will become a game changer, making agility count through offering much-needed and enhanced flexibility to customers.”
De Vry further highlights the peace of mind that customers will have, knowing that they can draw on this rental solution, while focusing on their key strengths in fulfilling core business priorities to continue driving their businesses forward. “With Rand-Air’s boiler solutions, it will definitely be ‘full steam ahead’!” he concludes.