Production capacity is a critical measurement of your production system. Your total production capacity is the total output that you can realistically produce, including any time lost for changeovers, maintenance, breakdowns, missing parts, and other delays. Hence, it is the average quantity produced for a system working at full capacity in a given period.
To illustrate: if your plant's rated capacity is 500 tonnes a day, but you're only processing 450 tonnes of oilseed a day, your plant is running under capacity. While a reduced production capacity of 1-5% is considered within normal limits, anything over 5% puts your plant under capacity.
It isn't only old plants that can run under capacity; this is often a challenge even with greenfield or expansion plants.
There are several reasons for a plant to run under capacity, and for each of these, we have recommended ways to mitigate these issues so you can keep your plant running as close to rated capacity as possible:
Raw material quality
Impurities in the feed must be kept below 3%. If the percentage of impurities is high, the final feed capacity will be much lower, leading to your plant running under capacity.
Uneven or interrupted raw material feeding
Your plant can run under capacity if the flow of the raw material is not as specified. To ensure uniform and uninterrupted flow of raw materials in the system, make sure your material handling equipment is per rated capacity. Also, install an online weighing system, rotary magnet and automate your plant with a PLC Scada system. Last but not least, make sure there is a regular and continuous supply of raw material to meet your processing capacity.
Supply of utilities
Plants need an uninterrupted supply of power, steam and water to run smoothly. These utilities must be in line with the specified configuration. A disturbance in the boiler, cooling tower or fluctuating power supply can result in under capacity.
Online weighing system
In plants that use manual operations for measurement, the risk of the plant running under capacity is much higher. Without a proper system of measurement, even the most experienced operator is eyeballing it.
Judgement and experience do not stand in for accurate measurements. A proper measuring system to ensure your plant is running at capacity. An online weighing system eliminates all the guesswork and allows you to determine the exact quantity of feed needed for the final output. You can analyse the precise quantity of the deoiled cake (DOC), and with a mass flow meter to measure the oil, you can track plant capacity every hour. Measuring parameters you set will flag any blockage or overflow and track when your plant isn't working. The system can be reset every 24 hours for accurate measurements.
Iron particles that make their way into the feed can cause immense damage to the process machinery and material handling equipment, leading to shutdown for emergency maintenance operations. A rotary magnet attracts all the iron particles, separating them from the feed and ensuring the longevity of your process machinery.
A more CAPEX effective variant of the rotary magnet is the stationary magnet. However, unlike the rotary magnet, the stationery magnet requires manual cleaning every 3-4 hours, reducing your system's efficiency. Kumar recommends the rotary magnet because they are highly efficient and do not cause unnecessary downtime.
Testing and Inspection
It is imperative to inspect, test and calibrate the system at regular intervals to ensure reliability. Once installed, plants must be scheduled for preventative maintenance procedures every 3-4 months. These preventative maintenance procedures require a shutdown of the plant, and often these are scheduled during the offseason when the supply of raw material drops. Whether your plant uses local materials or imports your seed, it is important to schedule these preventative maintenance checks. They go a long way to ensuring minor problems do not escalate into major issues causing your overheads to skyrocket. These issues could include high steam and power consumption, higher hexane losses, poor output quality, or low production, which has a significant negative impact on your financials.
Production and quality are compromised when a plant is run manually. It is difficult to pinpoint whether the error is operator inefficiency, an improper process or faulty machinery without automation and feedback systems. A Programmable Logic Controller or PLC system is a must-have for desired results.
You can also consider automating the plant to the maximum extent possible to minimise human intervention. Automating the plant allows you complete control of the operation of the plant from a single point.
Manual systems monitoring
The most efficient method of ensuring your plant is running at rated capacity would be to automate as much of the process as possible. However, in the case of unavoidable manual systems, it is necessary to set up frequent checks to ensure the system is running smoothly and efficiently.
Ensure that the plant manufacturer trains the workmen operating your plants. Lack of knowledge about the working of the machine can result in unexpected errors, interruptions and breakdowns. Also, in the event of a breakdown, a well-trained and efficient operator will be able to troubleshoot and bring the plant back online. They will also know when they cannot solve the issue and call the manufacturer's engineering team to solve the problem.
To ensure your plant is running at capacity, you must adopt a system that allows you to manage minor issues before they escalate into unmanageable challenges.
For 82 years, Kumar has been delivering dependable process engineering solutions to the oils and fats industry. We're known for our robustly engineered, versatile and operationally profitable plant and machinery. It's why over 500 customers in 65 countries depend on us to solve their processing challenges, big or small. If you’d like to know more about our solutions please fill out the form below:
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