TECO's CLEARbatch is Another Example of Total Value Engineering and Continuous Improvement

It might sound too good to be true: A batch plant that has a lower upfront capital cost, lower maintenance, and less operating cost, all while delivering well mixed, homogenous batch reliably to your furnace. As most glassmakers will attest, optimised quality batch means the furnace melts more consistently, enabling your furnace to operate at peak performance. These batch plants are production proven over the years but with continuous improvement principles applied, they have become the ideal choice for delivering superior returns on investment.

Such batch plants are generically called ‘compact’ or ‘vertical’ batch plants, and are an excellent example of how successful glass producers are rediscovering value by focusing on total lifecycle cost (or Total Cost of Ownership). The main defining feature of compact batch plants is that they rely more on gravity versus mechanical conveyance, which is typical of ‘horizontal’ or ‘inline’ batch plants. Interestingly, compact batch plants are more prevalent in North America while in-line batch plants are more typical in Europe and Asia. While the compact batch plant concept is not new to the glass industry, TECO’s CLEARbatch (Compact, Low cost, Efficient, Accurate, Reliable) is a next generation design consistent with TECO’s legacy of total value engineering and continuous improvement.

As there are elements of customisation in any batch plant design (for example, compact batch plants that use concepts more commonly found in-line batch plants and vice versa) direct comparisons can be fraught with caveats and special considerations. Nevertheless, the intent of this article is to compare some of the more salient differences between compact and in-line batch plants with the aim of rediscovering the number of alternatives available to capital delivery decision makers in search of solutions to lower the total lifecycle cost.

The batch plant above is a typical medium to high capacity batch plant for soda lime or similar glass chemistries. It is what is referred to as a compact style batch plant, where raw materials are elevated and stored in silos located above the weighing and mixing process systems. All raw material storage silos are designed to emulate mass flow of each material to minimise particle segregation within the individual raw materials. By utilising a compact style batch plant, with raw material storage elevated, material can flow through the weighing and mixing systems using gravity to minimise the use of mechanical equipment. This concept minimises the upfront capital costs, ongoing operational and maintenance costs, and the potential of abrasive wear within the equipment, which can contribute to contamination in the mixed batch delivered to the furnace.

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