When selecting a new or replacement industrial or commercial boiler, it’s important to consider including backup equipment. Redundant boiler systems can help businesses avoid down time for both scheduled maintenance and emergency repairs. In addition, the backup boiler will be available if load increases in the future due to production or facility growth.
What is a Redundant Boiler System?
A redundant boiler system is one that is available for use if the primary boiler system goes down. The most common setup is N+1 redundancy, which is the number of boilers required for fully functional operation plus one backup.
To be considered redundant, the additional boiler should only be used as a backup. If it has to run in addition to the main boiler to handle typical load requirements, then the primary boiler system most likely isn’t sized correctly.
Benefits of a Backup Industrial or Commercial Boiler
Reduce Down Time
If a boiler shuts down, another one is ready to be started and take over the load immediately so there’s no production down time and no loss of heat, hot water or steam.
Peace of Mind
Boilers can be connected so that the backup boiler will automatically start up when sensors indicate that the first boiler is down, no matter what time of day or night.
Easily Schedule Maintenance
Having a redundant system makes it easy to schedule preventive boiler maintenance.
Reduce MTTR and Increase MTBF
Following a regular maintenance schedule will keep a boiler working safely and efficiently for as long as possible. This typically leads to a lower MTTR (mean time to repair) and a longer MTBF (mean time between failures).
Does My Facility Need a Redundant Boiler System?
Most factories and manufacturing facilities have a backup for critical systems or process loads that directly impact production. But, a surprising number of businesses rely on a single boiler for all of their building heat, steam and hot water needs. For those companies, a relatively simple issue such as a lack of feedwater or a flame failure could cause a system shut down that leads to costly losses.
Here are some things to consider when determining whether a backup boiler is needed:
System Application and Load
If a boiler goes out of service and there is no redundancy, that load is a total loss. It is important to consider the impact that down time resulting from an emergency or maintenance could have. Keep in mind, the risks are greater for a boiler that supports multiple applications.
If an industrial or commercial building relies on a boiler for heat and there’s no backup, any loss of service due to repair or maintenance could lead to shutting down the facility due to the cold. And, if the temperature gets cold enough to freeze pipes, costly damage can result.
Without a backup, boilers in production applications have to be repaired as quickly as possible to get the system started back up again with minimal down time. Rushed repairs can lead to mistakes. This is also a reason companies put off preventive boiler maintenance.
Steam or Hot Water Load
If an application has critical hot water or steam needs, 100% redundancy may be required by law or code. However, there are many operations, that require hot water or steam at all times. Hotels, for example, would benefit from a backup boiler for laundry and guests’ showers.
For some applications, multiple boilers may be in place to help with peak heating and process loads while a single boiler handles the load the rest of the time. In these cases, it’s important to consider having an additional boiler available as a backup to handle the maximum load.
The Cost of Downtime
When deciding if a redundant boiler system is a good investment, consider the costs of commercial and industrial boiler downtime for both the business and its customers.
For production applications, a boiler shutdown with no redundancy can lead to product losses, added production costs and even employee overtime costs. If the boiler that provides all of the company’s process steam shuts down due to a flame failure, hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of unfinished products could be wasted. In addition to possible overtime for the maintenance team to fix the boiler, there could be overtime costs for production staff as they work extra to make up for lost production time.
Customer-facing facilities such as retail stores, office buildings and hotels can lose sales and revenue due to a loss of comfort heat and/or hot water. For example, a boiler failure at the height of summer travel could cost a hotel thousands of dollars in lost reservations, because guests won’t be able to take showers or have clean linens if there’s no redundancy to provide hot water. Similarly, a shopping mall that loses comfort heat and has to close during the holiday shopping season could result in all of the retailers missing out on sales during their busiest time of year.
When it comes to boiler redundancy, different industries have different needs. Superior Boiler can work with you to design and engineer a backup system that will keep your business running in the event of equipment failure or during maintenance. We produce custom boiler systems that are built to fit any footprint and any application. Contact our sales team today about a redundant boiler system for your company.