Hexion Facility Quits Wasting Water, Cold Turkey
A wake up call from Mother Nature
Five years ago, Morganton, North Carolina, experienced a severe drought and citywide water saving sanctions were put in place. Things were bad enough that, had the drought gone on much longer, the Hexion plant there—a melamine laminating resin plant— would have been denied water. It would have had to shut down. Luckily, the drought abated but management (Site Leader Jarl Renn and Six Sigma Blackbelt, Craig Pryzgoda) were left wondering how they might prevent such an occurrence in the future.
At the time, the plant was cooled by a single pass of water purchased from the city. Once used, the water would be discharged into a drainage ditch to dissipate heat before trickling into a nearby stream. The Morganton team surveyed other Hexion plant managers and found that a Hexion plant in Missoula, Montana, had a cooling tower that was not in use. They had the tower shipped to Morganton via the same shipper that transports their melamine resin.
A matter of fine-tuning
Once the tower arrived, the team only took about three months to get the tower working. According to Renn, the mechanical hookup, overseen by maintenance superintendent Danny Staton, was relatively easy. Unlike the old setup, the new cooling tower is a closed system. Very little water is actually consumed—rather, it is re-circulated.
“To be energy-conscious, we have installed the most efficient pumps available,” Pryzgoda said. The state-of-the-art, computer-controlled motors only operate on demand, at variable speeds determined by flow, pressure and temperature settings.
“The hard part was getting the settings right,” Renn explained. “But now, thanks to our IT guy, Rick Holmes, the system works really well.”