Two factors both manufacturers and producers regularly have on the forefront of their agenda is minimizing cost and increasing efficiency. By knowing where improvements can be made and implementing increasingly lean operating procedures, these personnel can create immediate process line results.
Moisture and wood fuel biomass are vital to each other for minimizing cost, proper operation of biomass boilers and genuine fuel load assessment. Near-infrared (NIR) technology is a great non-contact way to measure moisture content, immediately improving the product and overall efficiency of the plant.
In addition, moisture control can become crucial in wood and biomass products as excess moisture has impacts that will not only affect the product but also the equipment, energy usage, production efficiency, down time and more.
Fuel outside of the tolerated moisture range of the boiler can lead to multiple inefficiencies, increased emissions and even error the control system, so wood fuel boilers are typically designed to operate with fuel of a limited moisture range content. Knowing and maintaining the moisture content can be essential to production efficiency and provides multiple immediate benefits.
1. Real-time information
NIR technology is different than other moisture detection methods, as it does not require to be in contact with the product at all. In fact, it is usually measured approximately four to 12 inches away from the product.
NIR spectroscopy and imaging provide fast, nondestructive analysis of the chemical and physical information in the product. When light hits a product, the transmitted light will pass through while backscattered light will reflect from the product back to the sensor. Absorption is key to the NIR analysis.
With implementing an NIR moisture sensor, wood and wood fuel product manufacturer can adjust moisture levels on real-time information lowering raw material and fuel costs, higher yields, and more uniform products. NIR offers clear advantages over the traditional methods, most important being ease-of-use, elimination of hazardous chemicals and increased efficiency of product testing.
2. Proactive avoidance
Continuous monitoring of moisture content can help provide proactive avoidance of potential issues caused by out of tolerance moisture levels. The sensors of the NIR moisture detection systems are insensitive to material variations such as particle size and material height/color and provide continuous, no-contact readings with zero maintenance and a non-drift optical design.
Adjustments can also be made on the fly, producing instant measurements, thus improving performance, reliability and consistency.
3. Increased reliability
By installing NIR moisture sensors throughout the process, consistently measuring product being produced can be easily achievable. Proactive, immediate adjustments are easily made to ensure optimal manufacturing by line personnel while monitoring the process anywhere in the facility.
Maximizing automation and increasing reliability through reducing costs is of major significance for operating personnel and easily achieved through moisture monitoring. Moisture ranges outside of tolerance can unravel important facets of the production process, and each phase of the manufacturing process runs more efficiently with accurate moisture content. Identifying and using the best methods can lessen common problems, such as warping, claims, checks and excessive transportation costs.
4. Instant results
Introducing lean manufacturing principles can allow the operating personnel to hone-in on best practices and top product quality. Wood fuel is purchased based off weight, which is very susceptible to moisture changes, making it critical in product energy savings. High moisture content of incoming fuel can result in overpaying for wood fuel as well as increased energy for dryer operation.
Moisture control technology in pellet plant operations is a crucial implementation in providing a proactive avoidance of quality control issues. Too dry of a product can result in over-drying, causing a dusty, ambient environment that can result in a fire.
Moisture control systems can not only provide immediate cost savings and product quality, but severely impact the safety of the plant as well. Pellet plants often see dry conditions that can create sparks and other fire-causing issues; implementing a system to measure moisture in multiple points of the production process can greatly reduce this risk.
Dry products create avoidable risk, as do products that are too wet. The pelletizer requires a tolerated moisture range to ensure the proper efficiency of the machine. Excess moisture can cause the pelletizer to malfunction, resulting in significant product loss and down time on the production line.
Moisture control provides immediate results in reduced transportation costs stemming from excess water, less wear and tear on equipment from ash and dust buildup, and prevents blockages on the conveyor which results in shutting down the boiler. When it comes to challenges faced by plant operators, moisture detection and control is one of the most crucial steps.
Sarah Hammond is the marketing manager for Sarasota, Florida-based MoistTech Corp. This piece has been provided on behalf of MoistTech.