Jonathan Probert, Head of Business Development for EP Steam

“Businesses are increasingly becoming frustrated with their own ability to efficiently operate and maintain their steam infrastructure without passing the increasing cost onto customers. This is exacerbated by the fact that the skills around maintaining steam operations have become scarcer,” says Jonathan Probert, Head of Business Development for EP Steam, a division of Energy Partners. The result is that many businesses are in a situation where they have to maintain the efficiency of ageing infrastructure with fewer and fewer skilled individuals at their disposal. 

“There is also another prominent issue that some have begun to experience, which is an overall decrease in the quality of the coal that they can acquire for their budget. The current global economic climate has had the biggest impact on this, with coal prices expected to average around 80% higher in 2022 compared with last year. Naturally, using lower grade coal decreases the efficiency of one’s system, which also hikes up operating costs. It takes expert skills in steam generation to manage this kind of challenge which the majority of companies do not have at their disposal.”

Much too costly

Jonathan points out that until relatively recently, the majority of businesses simply didn’t have a way to deal with these challenges, leaving them with few options short of installing new systems. “Of course, the cost of this is massive and generally beyond the capability of many companies – especially in a depressed economy. Until about ten years ago, outsourcing your steam production was a relatively unknown phenomenon in the industry, and it is only now that outsourcing has gained momentum as a solution to the problem of degenerating efficiency levels.”

He states that partnering with a service provider who owns and operates boiler and steam systems, while selling the steam to the business as a utility, gives a business access to cutting-edge skills in this discipline, as well as the latest technology in steam generation without the need to spend any of their own capital. “Should your company make the move to outsourcing, a good service provider can now come in, take over your entire steam generation system (from operation to maintenance and upgrading) and provide you with immediate cost savings.”   

Real-time monitoring

He explains that Energy Partners, as an example, not only brings much-needed skills into the mix, but also state-of-the-art boiler and control systems that ensure optimal running efficiency and therefore ensures a reduction in energy use. “Real-time monitoring for steam systems is a game-changer. The simple fact is that newer steam generation systems are more reliable and can produce much more consistent results. Dedicated and constant monitoring and maintenance is something that most businesses are not equipped for, but it is completely within the capability of a dedicated service provider,” Johnathan notes. 

“Whether it is food production, paper production, textiles or any other business, being able to increase the efficiency of your steam production without the need for capital outlay is becoming even more valuable. Outsourcing this incredibly important component of your business is possible, available and becoming the norm for more and more companies in these industries,” he concludes.

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