Interest rises as unattended operating systems increase their endurance
1 Feb 2023
Unattended boiler systems are now longer lasting – a boon in times of onsite staff shortages explains Babcock Wanson’s Etienne Fourie
Unattended boiler operating systems have been in use for over 20 years. Traditionally they have been favoured by organisations whose hours extend beyond the standard and may not have a full gamut of boiler house staff on site during these times.
However, in recent years there has been a considerable acceleration in the popularity of these systems but also in the length of time they are able to safely operate unattended.
An unattended boiler operating system permits uninterrupted operation for a set period (usually of up to six months) and unattended boiler operation, most commonly for up to three days.
The system can be set at commissioning for daily or three day checks depending on a risk assessment of the steam process and the degree of monitoring of the water treatment system employed - all in accordance with the latest BG01 Guidance on Safe Operation of Boilers.
Once set up for unattended operation, all the user needs to do is monitor for any operational alarms and undertake a very simple 15 minute test every three days, which is completed without interfering with boiler operation and is acknowledged to the boiler control system, thereby ensuring the tests are completed to the operating schedule.
Apart from the obvious cost and convenience of being able to run a boiler without operator attendance, unattended boiler operating systems have a number of benefits.
Top of this list is a lower boiler operation cost. This is achieved through the replacement of daily boiler water level control checks and the replacement of a daily/weekly boiler water level control evaporation test with a six monthly test, thereby reducing overall manning and operational costs. Overall energy savings are achieved when boilers are controlled by an unattended boiler operating system, along with reduced emissions.
Obviously, any savings made have to be offset against the annual cost of the system, but this is a fraction of the cost when compared to the labour savings made, especially if staff are being paid extra to work at weekends, evenings etc.
Next in line in driving the popularity of these systems, is the ease of operation. Self-checking burner controls, for example, enable uninterrupted, unattended burner operation.
Improved safety and conformance with current and future UK and EU legislation is also a key benefit and one to which even 24/7 operational sites that are fully staffed are increasingly attracted.
The next level
Three day unattended boiler operating systems (essentially covering a weekend) are the standard, but systems capable of longer operation have been introduced, with additional benefits including extensive data logging, providing the user with valuable information.
Babcock Wanson’s BW7DAYS system, which comes with automatic Total Dissolved Solids Control, is the first seven day unattended boiler operating system to market. It features the unique and innovative NAVinergy remote monitoring system which integrates all of the components necessary for the supervision and management of the boiler room: control, regulation, recording, visualisation and communication.
This enables organisations to monitor their boiler room from any device, anywhere in the world. All relevant data - including regular tests - is recorded, saved and stored on a compact flash type memory which also records normal boiler operating data; all of which can be easily downloaded to a standard PC for record keeping.
At a time when engineering and other businesses are experiencing considerable difficulties in recruiting skilled staff, the appeal of systems that run reliably while unattended is apparent, with many customers now asking for these systemns as standard.
Etienne Fourie is technical sales manager, Babcock Wanson