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Plant compliance will become an essential in future

By John Ackermann

Understanding SANS 10147:2014 (Ed. 5.00) for Refrigerating Systems and Air-Conditioning Plants.

Ensuring compliance with industry standards is critical for plant owners and operators in South Africa. In particular, adherence to SANS 10147:2014 (Ed. 5.00) is essential for refrigerating systems and plants associated with air-conditioning systems. This article highlights the importance of compliance with this code and the implications it has on plant safety, environmental concerns and long-term costs.

Originally introduced as a standard, SABS 0147, industry regarded compliance with it as a matter of good engineering practice and safety. However, the shift to SANS 10147 emphasised the need for legal adherence. Large corporations, such as chemical plants, mining houses and breweries, along with international companies, have been proactive in complying. Compliance not only ensures safety but also covers environmental issues, such as controlling leakages of substances regulated by the Montreal Protocol.

SANS 10147 plays a vital role in maintaining plant safety and safeguarding the well-being of workers. Additionally, it addresses environmental concerns by aligning with evolving regulations. The Montreal Protocol, initially focused on substances like HCFCs and CFCs, has expanded its scope to include HFCs. Compliance with SANS 10147 ensures that plants are designed to minimise environmental impact and prevent leaks of harmful refrigerants. It helps increase the lifespan of the plant and reduce lifecycle costs, promoting sustainable practices.

Insurance companies prioritise risk assessment and compliance when evaluating plant coverage. Companies conscious of safety and committed to meeting standards stand a better chance of obtaining insurance coverage. Insurers carefully assess whether plants meet the standard requirements, and failure to comply can result in challenges when seeking compensation for accidents or incidents. Moreover, non-compliant plants may face difficulties obtaining coverage or may be subject to increased premiums.

Impact on power consumption and efficiency

When plants are designed and commissioned in line with the standard, they are more likely to operate at optimal efficiency levels. This adherence to the standard can result in reduced power consumption and lower emissions, aligning with sustainable practices and minimising operational costs.

Proper installation and commissioning are key factors in achieving optimal plant performance. It is not uncommon for plants to experience diminished performance after a year or two of operation, often due to inadequate conditioning during the initial stages. This lack of compliance with design specifications can impact energy consumption, costs and the plant’s ability to fulfil its intended functions.

Refrigerants play a vital role in plant operations, but their environmental impact cannot be ignored. The use of natural refrigerants offers advantages, but safety measures and adherence to standards cannot be compromised. Furthermore, with the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, there is a shift towards lower global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants. Chemical manufacturers are actively developing refrigerants with reduced GWP to comply with these requirements. However, it is essential to consider the availability and longevity of these refrigerants as plants transition to new options.

Assessing refrigerant inventory and planning for the future

To address the challenges posed by refrigerant transitions, plant owners must conduct an assessment of their installed refrigerant inventory. Understanding the quantity and age of refrigerants in the system is crucial for planning future actions. If a refrigerant becomes obsolete or unavailable, it could lead to costly conversions or even total plant shutdowns. Plant owners can develop proactive strategies to safeguard their operations and minimise disruptions by assessing the age of the plant and evaluating its commercial life expectancy.

Plants serve critical functions in various industries, such as food production, healthcare facilities and manufacturing. A plant’s failure or downtime due to refrigerant-related issues can have severe consequences. It is essential to recognise that these plants must remain operational without interruption. The assessment of refrigerant inventory, the age of the plant, and the development of contingency plans ensure that essential services can continue uninterrupted, even in the face of refrigerant challenges.

Industrial plants, which often have a lifespan of around 30 years, are significant investments and their efficient operation is paramount. However, if a plant fails to reach its intended lifespan, it can lead to frustration and financial implications.

Commercial plants, such as those found in supermarkets, have a shorter lifespan, typically around 10 years. These plants are subject to changing consumer preferences and evolving shopping habits. Supermarkets constantly adapt their layouts to attract customers and provide a unique shopping experience. Refrigeration trends also play a role, with the introduction of environmentally friendly refrigerants like CO2 and the use of display cases with doors, which enhance energy efficiency and product visibility.

Moreover, the increasing focus on health consciousness, particularly in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, has driven a demand for nourishing and safe food products. Consumers want to ensure the products they purchase are fresh and will contribute towards a healthy lifestyle. This has prompted frequent changes in plant equipment and layout to meet these evolving demands.

New refrigerants are gaining attention for their environmental benefits and are being utilised in various applications, including large-scale chillers. However, it is important to note that these refrigerants are often proprietary, specific to certain manufacturers. Consequently, it is essential for industry professionals to stay informed about the latest refrigerant developments.

To ensure plant compliance, adherence to standards is vital. Standards such as the 10147 provide guidelines for minimum plant requirements. It is imperative for plant owners and operators to familiarise themselves with these standards and stay updated on revisions and new editions.

Moving forward, the future of plant compliance will require proactive measures, such as conducting regular assessments of installed refrigeration technology, understanding the quantity of refrigerants present in systems and planning for contingencies. It is crucial to anticipate challenges related to refrigerant availability, viability, and potential conversion or replacement requirements.

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About John Ackermann

John Ackermann

John Ackermann

John Ackermann published the first Cold Link newspaper in September 1987 as a trade newspaper for the refrigeration industry, and continues as a consultant to Cold Link Africa to this day. He was the founding president of Southern African Refrigerated Distribution Association (SARDA). He owns and manages Jack Agencies in Cape Town, which imports and distributes components for ammonia/industrial refrigeration systems.