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Heater Commissioning in the COVID Era

Commissioning the Opti-Therm fluid heater in the era of COVID presents special problems as travel restriction limit access to our client’s site. Still, commissioning must proceed. WTE recently delivered our 8 MM Btu vertical, up-fired Opti-Therm thermal fluid heater, built specifically for northern climates to a Shell lubricants mill in Ontario, Canada. The unit was delivered complete on a skid, with all pumps, controls, and burner componentry contained safely in a weather conditioned “doghouse”. Pump fire protection is provided by the WTE PumpGuard system, while general fire protection is provided by the customer.

Due to US-Canada travel restrictions, WTE, together with the client decided to pre-commissioned remotely. To aid this, WTE needed to develop detailed custom step-by-step commissioning procedures, beyond what would normally be required. Coupled with the latest communications systems, using direct one-on-one video, it relies on competent client personnel who work with the equipment, but not necessarily familiar with performing plant start-ups.

WTE is pre-programming the key controls system parameters normally done in the field to allow our client to upload these locally. Together, configuration will be will be remotely verified, and commissioning will be monitored by “virtual” on-site presence. This “pre”-commissioning is due to take place the next few weeks.

This process cannot replace an experienced field commissioning, but it is one way to start-up plant equipment in a controlled and safe manner on a preliminary basis while restrictions limit outside personnel on site. Final commissioning and verification to sign off will be completed once travel restrictions are lifted.

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