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How Do Digital Heat Exchangers Improve Thermal Management in Factories?

Effective thermal management protects equipment and keeps factory air comfortable. As sustainability concerns rise, attention has also turned to this practice’s potential to reduce energy waste. Digital heat exchangers have emerged as an optimal tool for achieving these goals.

Improving thermal management in factories will only become more important as time goes on. Learning how you can use new technologies to address this area is the first step to optimizing your operations ahead of that trend.

What Are Digital Heat Exchangers?

Roughly 70% of energy in industrial applications ends up as waste heat. Heat exchangers address that waste by capturing excess heat through a fluid or gas, and moving the thermal medium where high temperatures can serve a valuable purpose. They may use it to heat the building, create warm water for washing applications, create steam or power any other heat-consuming process.

Digital heat exchangers perform the same tasks with the added functionality of digital control systems. Sensors throughout the system let them gauge the temperatures of their heat sources and targets in real time. They can then adapt accordingly to changing conditions.

These digital solutions may also make heat exchangers more accessible for end users. Digital interfaces could let you review operational data from a connected mobile device or control heat exchangers remotely. Some may even connect to other Internet of Things (IoT) devices in the facility.

Thermal Management Benefits of Digital Heat Exchangers

These newer exchangers have several advantages over more conventional alternatives. Here’s an overview of how they improve thermal management in factories.

More Precise Operation

Like many digital alternatives to analog solutions, digital heat exchangers are more precise than older options. Digital signals are more accurate and less prone to noise than analog ones, so they’re more reliable in an interference-heavy industrial environment.

That increased accuracy means heat exchangers can perform their roles more efficiently. They’ll turn on and shut off as necessary with less lag, and deliver the optimum amount of heat energy to each process based on their current needs. As a result, you can experience all the benefits of conventional heat exchangers to a higher degree.

Digitization also means these heat exchangers are more adaptable. Because they can measure smaller factors more accurately in less time, they can adjust operations as outside factors change. That way, they remain as efficient as possible regardless of what else is happening in the factory.

Lower Energy Costs

All heat exchangers lower ongoing operational costs because they recycle waste heat. By connecting systems that give off high temperatures to those that require heat to operate, they reduce the latter’s need for electricity. Digital solutions take these benefits further.

While heat exchangers lower the power consumption of other equipment, they require some energy themselves. Moving thermally conductive gasses or fluids take power, albeit a relatively low amount. By adjusting operations according to real-time needs, digital exchangers can deliver the same performance with less mechanical effort, reducing their energy consumption.

These power savings are similar to how smart thermostats work. Sometimes, equipment can retain ideal heat levels without active climate control, so these devices shut off when that happens to conserve energy. Digital exchangers work the same way, using as little power as possible to maintain optimal heat flow.

Reduced Carbon Emissions

Improving thermal management in factories has environmental benefits as well. Because digital heat exchangers use less energy, they minimize the facility’s carbon footprint. These savings are significant, too, because waste heat is often among a factory’s biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions.

Fossil fuel-derived energy accounts for almost 40% of CO2 emissions globally. Heating functions like HVAC systems are some of the most energy-intensive processes in many buildings. Consequently, by reducing HVAC energy needs while simultaneously preventing waste heat, heat exchangers can address factories’ most pressing areas of improvement.

Digital systems’ higher efficiency compared to conventional alternatives means even more emissions reduction. The resulting lower carbon footprint will help you meet an increasingly eco-conscious market’s demands for sustainability. If environmental legislation increases, these improvements could also become a matter of regulatory compliance.

Improved Equipment Life Spans

Transferring heat between machines improves their performance and longevity. Without a system to move waste heat away from the components producing it, high temperatures will linger near machinery. These extreme operating conditions can damage the equipment, so by preventing them, heat exchangers preserve machine health.

Equipment maintenance accounts for 23.9% of total manufacturing costs on average. Thus, reducing the need for repairs can significantly improve your bottom line. Heat exchangers serve a crucial role in that goal by improving the conditions in which your equipment operates.

Without excessive heat, machines won’t wear down as quickly and cooling components like fans won’t have to work as hard. As a result, they stay within ideal operating parameters for longer, improving their performance and preventing breakdowns. Repairs, replacements and their related costs will all fall accordingly.

Real-Time and Ongoing Insights

Digital heat exchangers provide insightful data into their operations and those of the equipment they protect. In a digital system, every action creates a recordable data point. By gathering and analyzing that information, you can ensure you’re using your equipment efficiently.

In some systems, this data analysis enables real-time actions. IoT-connected heat exchangers can alert you when conditions are outside normal parameters and may indicate the need for maintenance. Technicians can then fix the issue before breakdowns occur to maintain productivity.

Even without real-time IoT insights, heat exchanger data can be useful for uncovering long-term trends. Peaks and valleys in energy consumption will reveal which systems or workflows are most efficient, informing future changes to capitalize on this opportunity. That way, facilities can become as sustainable and cost-effective as possible.

Unlock Better Thermal Management in Factories

All heat exchangers are valuable tools for improving thermal management in factories. If you want to experience these benefits to their fullest, though, you must turn to digital solutions. Digital heat exchangers amplify the advantages of conventional ones while providing unique benefits like data analysis and real-time remote accessibility.

As cost-efficiency and sustainability become more important, these competitive edges will become necessities. Manufacturers must start to understand these benefits and how to capitalize on them today to succeed in the future.

Emily Newton
Emily Newton
Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized, an online magazine celebrating advances in science and technology.

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