"Full Steam Ahead"
Facilities Maintenance Operations (FMO) is finding great success across the University with its new Ultrasonic Steam Trap Survey service. While this program is saving many schools and departments thousands of dollars in energy costs, it's also giving many FMO employees the opportunity to learn a skill that's greatly in demand.
"We're very pleased to be able to offer this service to our customers and we're especially happy to have been able to provide our employees with the opportunity to learn valuable new skills," says Tony Ragucci, Associate Director for Maintenance Services. Nine FMO employees each underwent 40 hours of classroom and field training before passing a rigorous final examination on the way to becoming factory-certified in the use of the diagnostic testing equipment.
A steam trap is a device that allows condensed water and air to escape while keeping the steam moving through the distribution system. When a trap malfunctions or fails, steam also escapes. The more steam that's lost, the less efficiently the building can be heated. In the past, traps were either replaced on a periodic interval or identified as being faulty only when leakage was so great as to become obvious to a visual inspection. Instead, the new program uses sophisticated ultrasonic equipment to "listen" to the operation of the trap mechanisms. These precise measurements allow a skilled technician to determine the need for potential repairs or replacement. And since 80% of the buildings are heated by steam, there are thousands of these steam traps located throughout the campus. By taking advantage of this new service, building managers can not only learn which traps may be failing, but also the projected financial impact due to the steam loss. A single leaking steam trap can potentially cost thousands of dollars in wasted energy each year. FMO completes the financial analysis by providing building managers with estimated costs to repair or replace failed traps. "The great benefit of this program really comes down to the fact that we are able to give customers very precise estimates of just how much money they can expect to save by repairing or replacing failing traps", explained Tony. "When you look at the potential energy savings compared to the cost of the survey it is pretty plain to see that it's one of the best investments a building manager can make."
Tony also said this is just one of many new and highly technical services FMO now offers. "We've been developing an entire series of technical maintenance programs, including: Equipment Vibration Analysis, Fluid Flow Testing and Calibration, Boiler Combustion Gas Testing, and HVAC Air Flow Testing. Clearly, FMO is becoming a more technical maintenance organization that can provide one stop shopping for a wide array of specialized services." Tony also recognizes that without a skilled workforce and dedicated area maintenance supervisors to implement these programs success would not be possible…so he thanks all of the FMO employees who are working so hard to make it all happen.