A Bad Formula Creates a Solidly Tricky Situation

Client – Global Polymer & Intermediates Manufacturer
Issue – Product Batch Reactor Sets Up Like Glass
Solution – ERC Midwest Spins a Safe and Efficient Solution

A global Polymer and Intermediates manufacturer had a big problem and called on ERC Midwest for guidance. Its main product-producing reactor was out of commission due to a formulation error that caused the product to heat up and then subsequently cool into a polymerized solid state, resembling glass that encapsulated the reactors mixing blades and heat coils. In other words, the client’s biggest revenue generating piece of equipment was out of commission.

Within 3 hours, ERC was on site to consult with the client and develop a strategy. This wasn’t the first time this kind of thing had occurred and the normal course of action had been to use a 20k water blaster to essentially dig a hole through the solidified product until the hole was big enough to use confined space entry to continue the water blasting process inside the tank. While this course of action had been effective, it also came with a level of danger and took a lot of time, both of which were unappealing to the client and ERC.

We both agreed that a new way to approach this problem made sense to try, even though the client’s contact was skeptical, given his familiarity with the “old” way approach.

A 3D spinner head is lowered into the reactor tank, and connected via the high pressure water line, to the high powered water blaster (mounted on the trailer).

Rather than using a water blasting gun and placing men inside the reactor, ERC Midwest instead employed the water blaster in conjunction with a specialized 3-D spinner – along with specialized knowledge – with the thought that this new method would perform the cleaning project faster and with significantly less safety risk. The initial results were very positive. When the client’s contact did his initial inspection, he was pleased and let us know that if we finished this project faster this way, he would look like a Hero. That was music to our ears and a challenge that, as Guides, we were proud to accept.

As the 3d Spinner breaks up the solidified polymer debris, the vacuum hose removes the debris from the reactor tank to a series of vacuum boxes outside.
The wastewater and broken debris polymer flow into this series of vacuum boxes, connected to a high-powered vacuum truck.

While the cleaning process took several days, in the end the reactor was cleaned and returned to service 4 shifts faster than had ever been accomplished before, meaning the client was making high dollar revenue producing product 4 days faster than had been expected. In addition, only 1 shift of dangerous, confined space entry was needed to do a final polish clean on the reactor.

in the end the reactor was cleaned and returned to service 4 shifts faster than had ever been accomplished before.

ERC Midwest’s team executed the cleaning process, transported and treated the wastewater at our centralized wastewater treatment facility and disposed of the non-hazardous solids removed from the reactor.

The project finished under Budget, under Time AND with an enhanced level of Safety.

We were proud to guide our client to a successful outcome!

Another complex waste issue solved. Happy Client! In fact, they graded us with an A!

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