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Prevention is Better than Cure: Collaborating with System Engineers to Maximise Uptime in Printed Circuit Heat Exchangers


The success of a complete system requires careful oversight at all stages. Input from the OEMs throughout design, commissioning, and operation can provide significant benefits to overall performance. An understanding of these benefits can help operators decide on the optimum approach for their development process.

Functional performance of PCHEs

As a result of the advanced processes used during manufacture, PCHEs are inherently robust pieces of equipment. Well known for their safety, high-integrity, and high thermal effectiveness, PCHEs are trusted and reliable system components employed in a range of demanding applications. A 2013 study by Heatric established that statistically as little as 0.02 PCHE failures occur each year, the equivalent of an operating life of 57 years per unit.

Heatric PCHE Failure Mechanisms Pie Chart

The cause of operational issues

The same reliability study indicated that when failures* do occur in PCHEs, as much as 80% are a result of thermal fatigue, typically due to inadequate system design. As each failure can require shutdown, diagnosis and rectification, costs can quickly accumulate. These failures can be mitigated by a number of considerations implemented at key stages during system design, commissioning, and throughout operation.

Collaboration between the system engineers and the OEM is critical to ensure an optimised process design. By working with the equipment manufacturer the system engineer can draw on expertise and experience that would otherwise be unavailable. PCHEs are used within critical applications within the customer’s process and can benefit significantly from this type of working partnership.

*The vast majority of which are minor inter-stream leaks, PCHEs do not have the risk of the catastrophic failure modes associated with other heat exchanger technologies.

Opportunities for collaboration

Heatric Services process chart


Through collaboration with the OEM during the initial design phase, the operator benefits from insights into the overall system design and identification of potential issues which may lead to excessive pressure drops, blockages, or unstable coolant boiling.

During the commissioning phase the OEM can provide support to ensure effective installation and start-up. These are critical phases with the potential for serious consequences if problems are not identified and addressed. Input from the manufacturer at these stages can prevent the occurrence of these problems, reducing and even eliminating the associated cost and disruption.

Ongoing collaboration with the manufacturer during the operation of the system ensures that it functions at optimal levels, that costly unplanned downtime is reduced, and that operating efficiency is maintained. The OEM can provide input on the necessary monitoring equipment to allow for accurate interrogation of operational trend data. Rigorous monitoring of the operational data ensures that developing issues can be identified and addressed long before they lead to problems requiring costly shutdowns and maintenance.

Collaboration is key: maximising uptime and reducing costs

Close collaboration between the operator and manufacturer can be challenging to establish. It is essential that effective communication and trust is built between the two functions to ensure a successful partnership. The benefits of this type of collaboration are numerous, including:

For the operator / systems engineer:

– Achieving maximum uptime leading to increased production and value

– Improved system performance including efficiency and output

– Reductions / elimination of stoppages, such as shutdowns, leading to an increase in operating profits

For the Original Equipment Manufacturer:

– Collaboration provides insights on system performance and opportunity for further improvements

– Optimal system and component performance leads to increase in reputation, repeat custom and profits

– Better service planning forecast and improved response time to customer requests

Although the challenges of an effective partnership must be carefully addressed, it is clear that the potential benefits are significant for all involved.

As an OEM of Printed Circuit Heat Exchangers for 30 years, Heatric recognises the need for comprehensive support for operators during all stages of the system lifecycle. To support operators with their systems and equipment the Heatric Services team offers full support including P&ID appraisals, cleaning / antifouling services, spares and onsite support. This ensures that the systems run at full potential at all stages, and operational uptime.

To discuss the needs of your system, and to understand how Heatric Services can help to maximise the performance of your equipment, contact Heatric through the following channels:

By phone: +44 (0)1202 627 000

By email: htrc-info@meggitt.com

Or alternatively, visit the Heatric homepage: https://www.heatric.com/