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The Ultimate Guide to Removable Insulation (Covers, Jackets & Custom Blankets)

Rockwool or mineral wool along with perlite and calcium silicate have been commonly used as conventional industrial insulation materials. These materials perform well when newly installed with good workmanship, however they have limitations in the long run which leads to high maintenance cost and Corrosion Under Insulation (CUI). Removable insulation covers on the other hand are able to overcome these limitations and address the key industrial insulation problems.

This blog shall serve as a comprehensive guide to removable insulation covers for plant owners and engineers who face problems with conventional fixed type of insulation materials that include rockwool, perlite and calcium silicate. The blog briefly discusses fixed insulation and its limitations before going into in-depth evaluation of removable insulation covers and how they bring value to the end-user.

Method of Installation for Fixed Insulation

Standard method of installing industrial insulation materials is to affix the insulation material to hot equipment or piping surface and then use metallic cladding such as Aluminium or Stainless Steel to protect the insulation material from damage due to mechanical abuse, personnel walking or extreme weather conditions. This traditional method of insulation is known as fixed insulation and normally will require a crew of 4 to 6 people which include insulators to affix the insulation material, fabricators to pre-fabricate the metallic cladding and tinsmiths to install the metalling cladding and seals.

Limitations of Conventional Insulation

These materials have been a go-to choice in the past because of the economical material cost, which makes it a good CAPEX option. However, there are other critical factors that are usually ignored during the selection of insulation materials and need to be considered for them to perform in the long run. Factors such as maintenance cost for removal and installation, new material cost after each inspection, plant owner’s resources and asset integrity due to corrosion under insulation (CUI) are some of the concerns of plant owners with rockwool, perlite and calcium silicate.

For detailed comparison of conventional with removable insulation cover, visit our Blog: Conventional vs Removable Insulation.

Introduction to Removable Insulation Covers

Removable Insulation or Removable Covers on the other hand are a good insulation solution to conventional insulation. Removable insulation covers are basically customized to temperature requirements and tailored to fit specific shapes and sizes. The concept is similar to our clothing which is easy to wear, easy to remove and re-usable.

Why is Removable Insulation Better?

Removable insulation covers also provide thermal insulation and prevent insulation from mechanical and environmental damage. This is achieved by putting together a system of insulation material, high temperature fabric, weather resistant fabric and fasteners. The insulation material provides the thermal insulation, the fabrics encapsulate the insulation material and the fasteners hold the full system in place on equipment, piping and valves.

Removable insulation jacket

Advantages of Removable Insulation

The main advantages of Removable Insulation are:

  • Low Maintenance Cost: Doesn’t require insulation contractor to remove and install each time
  • Re-usable: Same insulation material can be re-used after inspection and maintenance, unlike conventional insulation which is usually disposed after each inspection
  • Time and Resource Saving: Extremely efficient to install with minimum resources. Typically, a 4 to 6 inch valve cover will be installed by 1 pax in less than 5 mins compared to a minimum 4 pax crew working for 30 mins for conventional insulation.
  • Asset Integrity: Cases of wet insulation are eliminated which protects the assets, moreover the assets can be frequently inspected now to deal with CUI at a very early stage
  • Energy Savings: From equipment which is at times left bare due to frequent inspections

Removable insulation covers have been around for a while now and are known by different names such as Insulation mattress, Insulation Jackets, Insulation Covers and Pillows. They have the same fabrication concept and can be customized in a variety of combinations as per the requirement.

Disadvantages of Removable Insulation

The disadvantage of removable insulation is that there is no one size that fits all. Therefore, it requires some planning and pre-ordering in advance. There are only a few manufacturers who offer removable insulation covers as an off the shelf ready stock product for standard sizes, for any size out of that range will require a fabrication lead time.

Fabrication Process for Removable Insulation Covers

The materials used to fabricate removable insulation covers can be categorized in Insulation Materials, Fabrics and Fasteners, each have their own function and are selected based on the conditions. The process of fabricating removable insulation covers involves:

  • Site measurements: Are obtained from drawings and physical measurements at site. All obstructions and other limitations are taken into account at this stage.
  • Design engineering: Includes material selection, part labelling and 3D design of the removable insulation cover for customer review and approval.
  • Cutting of fabrics and insulation materials: The selected materials are cut as per cutting plans extracted from the 3D drawing
  • Pre-stitching and stuffing: Once materials are cut to shape they are pre-stitched and stuffed with insulation as per desired thickness
  • Tagging and final stitching: Each part is tagged with a SS plate and has a unique identification code. After tagging the final stitching ensures that the insulation materials are fully encapsulated and are not exposed.
  • Installation of fasteners: Fasteners such as hooks, velcro, straps and D-rings are installed to hold the insulation in place
  • QA/QC: Is done at every stage of fabrication process and recorded to ensure product quality and dimensions. A QA/QC sheet is signed off at the end of each consignment.

Getting Started with Insulation Jackets

Often plant owners face difficulty in getting started with insulation jackets because it is an unconventional method and even though they realise the benefit they are not sure on where to start and how to justify the use of removable insulation covers. To switch from a conventional insulation method usually the operators have to go through many stages and propose a Material of Change (MOC) request. This can be very tedious in big organisations and take a few rounds of presentations and trials.

Based on our experience a good strategy to switch from conventional insulation should include the following steps, we have developed this strategy after working closely with clients on a number of projects and all our clients appreciate this as they benefit in the long run.

A good strategy to get started with removable insulation in your plant is:

1. Identify the right equipment for removable insulation, usually the following conditions are ideal for removable insulation covers and plant owners can easily justify switching the insulation material from rockwool:

  • Equipment that frequently undergo inspection and maintenance are ideal for insulation jackets because it reduces insulation maintenance cost. For example, critical valves that are inspected every year.
  • When timing is critical during TA, with insulation covers removal and installation is very fast, so it allows critical time to be saved when plant is shutdown. For example, catalyst piping, elbows and flanges that need to be stripped and insulated in a short duration during turnaround (TA).
  • Industrial insulation that needs to be replaced frequently due to wear and tear, insulation covers are more robust and can be made with heavy duty fabrics to reduce insulation wear and tear. For example, rotating equipment such as pumps, compressors and turbines.
  • Surfaces that are exposed after plant start-up due to metal expansion also require flexible type of insulation that can move with pipe movement. For example, furnace tube penetration at top and bottom headers.
  • Where temperature maintenance is critical and equipment needs a steady rate of heating and cooling also benefit from removable insulation. For example, reactors and turbines.
  • Online insulation repair where equipment needs to insulated while the plant is running and surface is hot. For example, furnace tubes with damaged internal lining.

2. Request KLAY EnerSol for a budgetary quote and a technical proposal.

3. Evaluate and get approvals from relevant personnel. KLAY EnerSol can support on Cost-Benefit Analysis and Return on Investment (ROI) calculations for evaluation.

4. Initiate procurement process and PO issuance.

5. Obtain detailed engineering design by KLAY EnerSol team, our engineers will provide detailed design engineering which will include generating 3D drawings for the insulation cover. These drawings will be submitted for fabrication approval and future reference for re-ordering.

6. Fabrication process at KLAY EnerSol Workshop.

7. Execution at site includes On-site installation & On-site modification (if required) by KLAY EnerSol crew. Alternatively in-house contractors can be used for installation of removable covers.

8. Project close-out

For details on how to get started with removable insulation covers (I-Cover) please Contact us.

Conclusion

We believe industrial insulation industry has evolved and plant operators and asset owners prefer value engineering over low CAPEX options. There is also conscious effort to optimize energy cost and protect assets in the long term. Therefore, high value insulation materials such are removable insulation covers are being widely accepted in the industry.

End users appreciate the value of removable insulation covers which includes reduction in maintenance cost, reduced risk of CUI and reduced energy losses. As a result many owners are constantly switching assets from fixed insulation to removable insulation.

We will be pleased to share our case studies and help if you need any further assistance with removable insulation covers, please Contact Us.

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