It can pay to invest in bespoke equipment

By Matt Hale
Wednesday, 15 May, 2019 | Supplied by: HRS Heat Exchangers Australia New Zealand


No two industrial processes or production lines are the same. Companies and their engineers spend huge amounts of time and money developing the most efficient and practical way to achieve their individual objectives, whether pasteurising dairy products or treating industrial wastes. Specifying a standard, off-the-shelf piece of equipment for a customised process can therefore be counterproductive, but is a practice which is still common, despite the fact that bespoke can often be a more cost-effective option.

In the same way that a bespoke suit from Sydney’s top tailors will fit the wearer better than an off-the-peg design from the local shop, a heat exchanger that has been specifically designed to fit in with the rest of your process will perform better than one that has been made to a preset design. In a worst-case scenario, a heat exchanger that has been developed for one type of application — such as cooling food products — would be completely unsuitable for another, like evaporating sewage sludge.

Unfortunately, the experience of our engineering and design staff suggests that all too often this is what happens. For example, a multitube heat exchanger for the pasteurisation of thin sauces, such as stocks or consommé, is specified for thicker products like soup or pizza topping, for which it is completely unsuitable. The effects of using the wrong heat exchanger can range from the inconvenient (increased cleaning or maintenance requirements) to the disastrous (out of specification or unsafe product).

The biggest argument made against choosing bespoke equipment is cost, but this is frequently misleading. Not only is the initial purchase price often much less than you may think, but the additional unforeseen costs associated with using unsuitable ‘standard’ designs in the long term can be considerable. As well as increased servicing, their performance may be impaired, requiring additional running time or energy to achieve the required result, or their operational life may be compromised. In some instances, a standard solution may perform so poorly that the only option is to replace it with a different unit.

Although based on standard tube architecture (eg, the tube-in-tube DTA Series or DTI Series, or the multi-tube K Series or MI Series), every HRS heat exchanger is designed to meet the specific heat transfer and product handling requirements of an installation.

Each heat exchanger from HRS is custom designed to meet the customer’s brief.

Each HRS heat exchanger is designed according to a wide range of parameters. These include chemical and physical assessments of the product (and sometimes the service fluid) to understand its thermal characteristics, flow rate, viscosity, fouling potential and biological loading, etc. HRS also considers the heat difference required and the operational temperatures of the product and service fluid, as well as the required pressure drop, necessary treatment times (for pasteurisation applications, for example), and other process requirements. As well as ensuring that the performance of the heat exchanger is suitable to meet the brief, the company investigates the physical space available for installation and how the new equipment will connect to any existing lines or machinery.

The time and effort the engineers and designers put into each project design means that heat exchangers from HRS are effectively bespoke, rather than off the shelf.

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