Saturday, December 22, 2018

Useful Information Regarding Pilot Plants

By Mary Lewis

Technology is always changing since the beginning of the technological era. As such, there must be a way of telling whether the new technology is ready for use in its current state or requires further modification. There is where pilot plants come in handy. A pilot plant can be defined as a pre-commercial production system which utilizes new production technology so that it provides a chance for further studies being done about the new technology.

Apart from obtaining knowledge, the pilot plant gets operated for various reasons. It offers a chance of finding out the effects of the changing operating conditions within commercial production units which are already in existence. In addition, it is also possible for any concerned person or engineers to examine aspects like construction materials and recycle operations among others.

A pilot plant also plays an essential role in safety. Before one forwards their process of proposal to a higher body of decision making for funding, they must ensure that it is completely safe. Building and operating the plant helps in reducing chances of making mistakes which may be costly on the final equipment. Financers prefer to make financial commitments to investments that have a potential of succeeding.

In order to change or adhere to government regulations, it is necessary to construct a trial plant. Trying and getting the public back up on new technology before it is fully operation is another non-technical objective of a trial plant. A typical plant is a miniature form of a full-sized production plant. They are constructed in numerous sizes with consideration to the tested technology.

In consideration of their sizes, they can be built in laboratories using simple stock laboratory equipment. However, in some cases they may cost a lot on engineering efforts as they are custom fabricated and assembled right from piping, instrumentation to process equipment. Their other importance is that they can be used in training personnel in preparation for tasks in a full-scale production unit.

The plant also achieves other layout design goals like low maintenance costs and low space requirement. In this phase, the involved personnel must ensure that the components they require for maintenance and replacement are located in a place where they can be accessed easily. For easier modification and building, the final unit must be properly laid.

Most ordinary people may not understand that a poorly laid and crowded units cost more in terms of repair efforts and takes more maintenance time. Well-laid operating facilities which come after the piloting phase take advantage of the available space without exceeding or underusing it. It goes without saying that the space must be maintained at a premium since adding more or significantly reducing it translates to unnecessary expenses.

Finally, skill and experience come when an individual wants to design the layout of a unit. Some commonly used techniques include inspired guesswork, less-detailed design, and detailed design. Each approach has its merits and demerits. The advantages and shortcomings are realized when considering factors like the real space required, cost, and time.

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