Industrial furnace retrofits from Seco/Warwick

In addition to manufacturing new equipment, Seco/Warwick also provides comprehensive repairs and retrofits of already-owned furnaces. (Courtesy: Seco/Warwick)

In addition to manufacturing new equipment, Seco/Warwick also provides comprehensive repairs and retrofits of already-owned furnaces. Old does not necessarily mean unworthy of investing. A leading manufacturer of aviation engine components recently opted for a furnace retrofit.

The scope of the retrofit included a furnace repair along with the replacement of its control cabinet and an upgrade of the atmosphere generators used with the furnace. The scope of furnace repair included, among other things, replacement of its thermal insulation. Thanks to the use of modern and environmentally-friendly materials the device is now better insulated without increasing the original wall insulation thickness. As a result, heat losses through the housing are lower, decreasing process costs.

The principle of Seco/Warwick’s Seconomy program is to combine economic drivers with environmentally responsible approaches. Current trends require the reduction and optimization of utilities consumption which guarantee, on the one hand, direct savings in terms of consumer costs, and on the other, reduced impact on the natural environment. This applies both to the energy consumed from the environment and to the pollution discharged post-process.

“Such changes become a reality. There is no economic growth without being conscious about the environment and this also applies to heat treatment. Seco/Warwick is one of the first companies to adapt to the new rules,” said Robert Szadkowski, VP business segment aftermarket at Seco/Warwick.

Apart from repairing the furnace, or more accurately upgrading it, there were significant material improvements, including replacing the control cabinet. A modern communication HMI increases safety and enables the operator to intuitively control all functions of the furnace, while adding parallel remote control, monitoring, and reporting capabilities. In addition, the atmosphere generator alongside the furnace received elements that enable it to automatically adjust the volume of generated gas to current needs, optimizing the costs of the entire process. The scope was not determined by chance; a knowledgeable customer and a professional provider combined their efforts to achieve better performance and reliability for lower costs.

“Seco/Warwick determines an individual selection of services for the customer — and this partner is no exception. Repairs are implemented according to the Secono-my assumptions,” Szadkowski said. “First, we perform a comprehensive analysis of the device’s operation, including its environment, and then we focus on the areas where we can potentially reduce losses and decrease production costs. In this case, the scope covered the furnace itself as well as the independent generators providing the protective atmosphere for the heat-treatment process. Second, we enhance our offering with state-of-the-art control systems that enable safe and easy furnace operation supported with advanced data visualization, reporting, and archiving tools. With our additional remote maintenance supervision option, we increase the safety of production continuity and minimize downtime. Third, with the reduction of utilities consumption and gases discharged to the atmosphere post-process, we limit the impact of the operating device on the natural environment. Our customers can proudly boast environmentally-friendly equipment. Fourth, the safety of the operating personnel is increased. Implementation of non-carcinogenic materials by Seco/Warwick complies with the latest OHS requirements, while releasing the customer from restrictions imposed by the legislation on carcinogenic substances.”

Not so long ago, at the beginning of the 21st century, industrial furnaces were commonly manufactured using refractory ceramic fibers (RCF), which modern legislation determined to be harmful. After a retrofit performed by Seco/Warwick, every material used will hold a valid material safety data sheet (MSDS) which details handling of the particular materials as well as the personal protective equipment. Modern materials also have another economic dimension: increased maximum limit of long-term use of the device and its resistance to thermal cycles. This translates to lower total cost of ownership as well as savings on waste disposal.