Mechanized Cleaning Solutions for Flash Tanks

Theme: Asset Optimization & Predictive maintenance

Expected Pilot Duration - 6 Months

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Challenge Summary

To enhance safety and efficiency, the alumina refinery seeks a mechanized cleaning solution that eliminates human entry, reduces turnaround time, and improves asset performance.

Challenge Scenario

In an alumina refinery, regular shutdowns of digestion trains every 4-5 months are vital for maintaining asset performance. However, the manual cleaning of flash tanks using jack hammers during these turnarounds poses safety risks and requires significant labor. To address these challenges, the refinery seeks a solution that eliminates human entry by employing machinery or crawlers for cleaning.

The primary task during the flash tank turnaround is removing hard scale residues composed mainly of silica, alumina, and iron, with thicknesses ranging from 40mm to 120mm. The current turnaround time is 2 days, involving five workers equipped with pneumatic jack hammers, entering confined spaces with the aid of temporary structures.

The desired solution aims to reduce cleaning time and improve safety. It must consider space constraints, limited entry points to the vessel, scaling hardness, and ease of installation for adaptability across all digestions. Potential savings of approximately 4.5 KT/Annum of Hydrate Volume could be achieved with a five-day reduction in turnaround time.

The refinery envisions an automated approach to flash tank cleaning that enhances operational efficiency, minimizes labor requirements, and ensures a safer working environment. By implementing an advanced and machinery-based cleaning system, the refinery seeks to optimize turnaround processes, improve asset performance, and protect employees from hazardous confined space entry.

Profile of the end users

Head - RED Area

Responsible for overseeing the performance and maintenance of assets, including digestion trains and flash tanks.

Solution Requirements

Safety: No manpower intervention inside one confined space will result in enhanced safety of worker.

TAT Reduction: Increment in 3D operation by 0.5 days/TAT will result in 4.5 KT/A hydrate volume enhancement.

Set-up time: The additional time required for the set up (Testing for Human entry, Scaffolding , constraints due to human capability) will be reduced or eliminated.

Mechanized Cleaning: The solution should enable the cleaning of flash tanks without the need for human entry into the vessel. It should provide a safe and efficient method for removing hard scale residues composed of silica, alumina, and iron from the tank's internal surface.

Portable Setup: The solution should be designed as a mobile system that can be easily moved around the refinery site. This portability will allow the same setup to be used for cleaning flash tanks in different digestion trains, ensuring consistency and ease of deployment.

Improved Turnaround Time (TAT): TThe machine/crawler used for cleaning should be capable of completing the cleaning process within a time frame of less than 2 days per set of flash vessels. This will contribute to reducing the overall turnaround time and improving operational efficiency.

Quick Setup Time: The machinery/crawler used for cleaning should have a low setup time, enabling efficient deployment and reducing downtime during the tank cleaning process.

Remote Monitoring and Operation: The solution should include features for remote monitoring and operation, allowing the system to be controlled and supervised from a central location. This will enhance operational control and provide real-time visibility into the cleaning process.

Safety: Solution deployment shall abide by general industrial safety standards and Vedanta’s site safety standards.

Operability: The technician/ engineer should be able to operate the machine remotely ( non-physical interaction with cleaning hands or vessels).

Visibility: The Person operating the machine shall be able to visualise the execution of jobs while cleaning is under progress, to carry out adjustments and decisions.

Expected Outcomes

1. Operational KPIs/Metrics:
Baseline KPI
(Unit of Measurement)
Baseline #
(Baseline Period)
Expected Timeline to achieve 100% Target
TAT of Flash Vessel (Days) 2 Days (FY22) <1.5 Days 6 Months
2. Qualified Outcomes :
KPI Target State
Reduction in Confined space entry for flash vessel(TAT) Zero

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