Although insulation is critical for keeping workers safe and maintaining maximum energy and production efficiency, plant managers sometimes adopt a “set it and forget it” mentality. Instead of a reusable insulation system, many facilities install traditional fiberglass blankets. Contractors generally put in place traditional fiberglass without thinking about how maintenance workers will access insulated components at a later date. Maintenance workers cannot reapply this one-time insulation if they remove it because taking off the fiberglass means cutting it away from the component. Once workers complete an inspection or a repair, they have to buy new fiberglass insulation and apply it to the spot, or leave it bare.
“By not maintaining their insulation, facility owners are exposing workers to the risk of being burned by uninsulated components,” said Terry Roach, Mid-Atlantic regional manager for Shannon Global Energy Solutions. “Workers remove insulation and then neglect to put it back on, or reinsulate.”
Reinsulating is crucial, but it’s often overlooked to the detriment of employers and employees.
“The consequences of not replacing insulation include, of course, radiant heat loss, and rising energy costs, which are unnecessary energy costs,” said Roach.
In addition to wasting energy resources and increasing business costs, hot components left uninsulated can quickly make a mechanical or boiler room remarkably loud and hot to work in.
“The ambient temperature and decibel-level in the mechanical room is going to increase and become more uncomfortable for the worker,” added Roach. “Reusable insulation is critical for keeping workers safe, too, because the component gets recovered, so the fixture isn’t left bare for someone to brush up against and get burned.”
All reusable insulation isn’t created equal
Applying or reinstalling a poor-quality insulation blanket can be just as detrimental as leaving the equipment bare. A contractor providing a poor-quality insulation blanket, which doesn’t tightly fit the component lets energy escape and simply will not perform to maximum efficiency. Facility owners will likely need to replace a poor-quality blanket before the end of its natural service life because, for instance, the jacketing begins to wear out or the fasteners break.
“In a lot of cases, the customer may be using the wrong insulation for that environment,” said Roach. “The environment may be one that requires a specific type of jacketing, internal material or fasteners just to keep it on. The temperature range may not be suitable for the insulation.
“We pay attention to the environment, the specifications and the surface that a customer is covering,” Roach added. “We design and produce high-quality reusable acoustic and thermal insulation blankets with specifications for each individual component, allowing for a perfect fit and specialization to match environmental conditions.”
Workers can remove and reapply Shannon acoustic and/or thermal blankets in minutes, making maintenance simple and straightforward.