Industrial Insulation Cutbacks that Could Damage Your System Performance

Subscribe to our blog. Cost control plays an enormous role in system construction and design. The drive to achieve maximum performance at minimum cost puts pressure on everyone, from the engineers to the installers, to accurately, efficiently, and cost-effectively deliver the best product possible. In the effort to reduce costs, one area that is either frequently overlooked or value-engineered is the insulation system. While this can seem like a reasonable step to save money, it is a short-term solution that may end up costing owners thousands of dollars in the long run.

For example, even at the more moderate temperatures we see in the building construction industry, value-engineering the insulation on a 180°F hot-water pipe from 1.5” thick fiber glass to 1” thick fiber glass causes the heat loss for the system to rise 32%. 1 When we expand this to the more extreme temperatures we find in the industrial industry, the long-term cost can be even more significant.

Despite often being overlooked, insulation is one of the few investments you can make upfront that literally pays dividends from day one and continues to pay you back year after year.  Even better, once it has been installed properly, you can leave it alone, and it will do its job. While insulation should have routine, scheduled inspections, it is not a feature in the facility that needs to be regularly operated. If you keep it dry and maintained, insulation will do exactly what you expect it to do.  

This, however, can be a double edged sword. When something works silently and invisibly in the background, it is often easy to lose sight of its importance. As such, insulation is often the first thing to take a hit when budgets get tight.

While the scope of the benefits of insulation is frequently limited to saving money and reducing energy waste, there are many more benefits to insulation systems that aren’t as immediately obvious, but are just as valuable:

-          Helps maintain process control to allow for optimal manufacturing efficiencies in manufacturing facilities

-          Reduces the use of fossil fuels

-          Promotes energy independence

-          Reduces emissions into the environment

-          Helps protect workers from burns

-          Saves more energy in a year than the energy it takes to manufacture it

-          Reduces noise

-          Can help reduce the risk of pipe corrosion

Given the number of benefits, we have to ask if the upfront cost is the only reason insulation is so often ignored or taken for granted – and we’ve found there could be more to it than just financial gain.

As we see more and more people retiring from the industrial workforce, we are noticing a trend toward under-utilized and even under-engineered insulation systems. This can stem from sources beyond financial pressure. It can also be an unintentional ramification of a misunderstanding or ignorance of how insulations perform in real-world applications. When system designers neglect to specify the best insulating material for the application, every single one of the benefits listed above can be affected. These effects can easily go overlooked for months if not years.

Since insulation is usually a small part of a much larger contract, some system designers save time by taking a copy-and-paste approach to insulation system specifications. While this method can be efficient, it fails to account for the intricacies of how specific insulations uniquely interact with the systems they insulate and the surrounding environment.   

As leaders in the industrial insulation industry, we recognize that we have a responsibility to take a leadership role in ensuring that the new talent entering the industry is well-prepared to approach system design and installation with expertise and skill that can only come from experience. To do this, we provide several solutions to help share industry knowledge with “up-and-comers” and those with several years of experience.

We have a number of resources available that can help evolve industry professionals into industry experts. Listed below are the resources available to you that can help take your expertise in the industrial insulation industry to the next level.

  • Industrial Product Information Workshop (IPIW): A free, two-day course that explores our products and the basics of the industrial insulation industry, covering everything from product specs to a hands-on installation demo.
  • Industrial Master’s Course: A free, two-day workshop for qualified attendees (those with 5+ years of experience working in the industrial industry or who have already attended an IPIW) who will get to take an in-depth look at not only JM products, but also industrial insulation materials and products produced by other major industry manufacturers. In this course, we will discuss typical installation techniques and dig more deeply into applications where the products should and should not be used.
  • Webinars:Our webinars vary from month-to-month, but they cover a range of topics, including addressing corrosion under insulation (CUI), acoustical performance, and thermal shift. Each webinar comes with a Certificate of Completion that can be submitted for Professional Development Hours (PDH).
    • Thermal Shift: September 21, 2016 
    • White papers:Periodically, we will release white papers that detail research and findings that impact the industrial industry.
    • Blog: Our bi-weekly blog publishes original content from our technical experts as well as content from independent industry experts to help keep you informed of the latest trends and influencers in the industrial industry. You can sign up here .

If you would like more information on any of these items, please contact us here. [LINK]