With a little inspiration and innovation, there are many opportunities to reduce water consumption in heavy manufacturing operations, without reducing production.
The heavy manufacturing industry is a significant user of water in Australia. Some are expected to increase their usage by 2020.
Key areas of water use include:
- Plant and equipment cooling
- Product cleaning and preparation
- The application of paint and dyes
- Product cooling
- Equipment and site washdown
So, why save water in heavy industry?
There are many benefits to saving water, including:
- Lower water bills. This includes water supplied to the site and discharged to the sewer as waste.
- Lower energy bills due to decreased pumping, heating, cooling and treatment requirements.
- Lower capital cost of equipment. As less water is used, the required capacity of pumping, storage and transport is reduced.
- Savings in chemical use, as recycling water can recover chemicals for reuse.
- Lower environmental risks from spills, leaks and effluent discharges.
- More efficient processes. Examining procedures for water savings may identify other opportunities for improved efficiency.
- Better quality products. In some cases, efficiency improvements will increase the performance of production processes and the quality of the product.
Where can Water be saved?
Generally speaking, there are three main areas for water savings in industry:
- Identifying and eliminating wastage (such as leaks) and inefficient processes (such as continual spray devices on stop-start production lines). This may be the most low cost area for water savings, as it involves minimal capital outlay. Savings can be made through implementing procedural changes, such as cleaning plant areas with brooms rather than water.
- Changing processes and plant machinery. A retrofit of key plant equipment may increase efficiency. Alternatively, upgrades to more efficient models can be factored in to planned maintenance and replacement schedules.
- Reusing wastewater. As well as saving on mains water, this option may improve the reliability of supply, whilst reducing trade waste charges and associated environmental risks.