A reactive approach is the most popular method that most manufacturing businesses use to save money short-term; a proactive approach is forward-looking and prepares the business for ultimate equipment failure and solving errors before they can affect production downtime or cash flow.
There are many reasons to schedule regular maintenance. The plate heat exchanger must be allowed to maximize its efficiency as it initially was designed for either heating or cooling at specified pressure drops. Unscheduled production stops are expensive and irritating. As heating will cause the most stress on a plate heat exchanger, it is not essentially true that heating will require more or less maintenance than a cooling system. Moreover, if it is necessary to restore a unit to the original as-built design parameters or redesign based on new criteria, maintenance could be needed.
It does not take a process heating professional to recognize when maintenance is required on a plate heat exchanger. Failures can be noticed easily by anyone through visible leaks from gaskets to the atmosphere or cross-contamination between fluids through cracks in the plates in a regular check of the equipment. Visual checks tell when fouling or plugging occurs on the plate surfaces or when gaskets fail due to temperature excursions or compression set.
Providing maintenance at the point where such noticeable faults take place is a far-too-common practice among industries that use plate heat exchangers. Relying on an orderly check alone for leaks and damage is reactive in nature and can limit the effectiveness of a maintenance strategy. The owner of a plate heat exchanger need not wait for these visible signs of poor condition and failure before scheduling maintenance for a unit.
When pressure drop rises and exceeds original design or when loss of heat transfer happens and the unit does not cool or heat, as designed or specified, maintenance may be required. Monitoring equipment in the form of pressure and temperature gauges used to detect wear and stress on the unit can help to plan maintenance on all affected units. Investment in this type of monitoring equipment may be restricted because of budgetary constraints or not be considered in an effort to cut cost.