Boiler operators are not always pre-qualified to operate and maintain the power plant at a commercial or industrial facility. In fact, most who are new to the position have backgrounds in mechanical engineering, pipe system maintenance, or facilities management. They learn about water use, quality and treatment once they are on the job.
Heating, ventilating and air-conditioning equipment can make up almost one-third of water use in a commercial building, and much more in an industrial facility, food processing plant, or hospital. To control costs, conserve water and preserve equipment, water management takes a mix of innovation and trial and error for a system to work just right.
Experienced or not, there are three fundamental principles your water manager should know:
- Mechanical system operation. A water management plan cannot be created without intrinsic knowledge of a system’s components — such as chemical feed pumps, water softeners, reverse osmosis, and heat exchangers — and how they best work together to conserve water, energy, and chemical use. New equipment would require a significant investment, and down equipment can compromise business. So the more expertise a power plant engineer has in system operation, inspection, cleaning, maintenance, and repair, the longer a system can run efficiently.
- Water quality testing and interpretation. You can learn a lot about your water quality and system efficiency from a plethora of drop count kits, titration test kits, and fluorescent tracers. Accurate test methods also are crucial for determining the effective minimum dosage of chemicals, which is the key to cost-efficient operation. Once the tests are completed, power plant engineers need to be able to understand how to interpret the data to determine if levels are ideal and systems are operating properly.
- Adjusting chemical dose and use. After obtaining test results, engineers should know which corrective action will get water quality back to ideal levels. Whether it is troubleshooting a piece of pretreatment equipment or making adjustments to the chemical program itself, troubleshooting and corrective actions are a critical part of the success of the program. Overall, too much chemical use can lead to fouling, corrosion, environmental discharge problems and excessive costs. Too little can lead to scale, corrosion, and microbiological growth that can threaten the health of employees and the surrounding community.
Water conditioning is a balancing act of chemistries, optimization of systems, and water conservation. Watertech treatment specialists work side by side with plant operation personnel by offering onsite training, monthly consultation, automation equipment and remote monitoring to make the water management process customized, easy, and right. But the system will only work at an optimal state if the onsite engineer can be in the driver’s seat day-to-day.
In March, we are excited to offer even more water management resources to the community with the grand opening of Watertech University, a state-of-the-art training facility located at our Greenfield headquarters. Watertech U will bring customers, strategic partners, community business leaders and students together for information, education, and collaboration. We’ll offer monthly training sessions on the fundamentals, plus opportunities for boiler operators to continue their education on topics including water chemistry, systems, best practices, and recommended improvements.
If you are not already on our email list, contact us to make sure you get an invite to our first training event!