5 troubleshooting tips for tubular heat exchangers

Beverage Dairy Heat transfer Prepared food

5 troubleshooting tips for tubular heat exchangers

Like all equipment, tubular heat exchangers can encounter problems during their lifetime. Leaks can occur, but what is most critical is if your end product becomes contaminated. We examine some typical problems, and what you can do to avoid them.

The last thing you want is a problem with a heat exchanger that holds up operations or affects product quality. Proper maintenance and cleaning can prevent many typical problems.

“Respect the recommended procedures!” is the best advice for customers from Jimmy Moons, Cluster Product Manager for Heat Transfer in Cluster Europe and Central Asia for Tetra Pak. He sometimes observes how service engineers at the customer carry out the services themselves and make critical mistakes, such as fitting the wrong gasket. And sometimes services are not carried out on time or shortcuts are introduced for the recommended cleaning-in-place procedures. “Shortcuts can jeopardize food quality,” he says.

Sometimes he sees tubular heat exchangers used for applications they were not designed for. “Whenever you change the recipe or product, it is always a good idea to seek our advice to hear if this is possible,” Moons recommends.

Based on his experience, he has identified five typical problems with installed tubular heat exchangers – and has advice on how to avoid them.

1. Leakages due to poor service. Tubular heat exchangers typically have a service interval of 6,000 running hours, or two years. The service should be carried out regularly at this interval by a qualified service engineer. Using trained service engineers helps avoid mistakes like incorrectly replacing old gaskets, which can lead to leakages.

2. Leakages due to incorrect gaskets. A Tetra Pak tubular heat exchanger has a large number of gaskets or O-rings. Different types are used for different places, but they may look almost identical. Some are made to resist high temperatures and some are not. It is important to use original gaskets with the right rubber quality and marked with a product label and number for easy identification. Then follow the instructions carefully. The right gasket has to be placed in the right section of the unit for a heat exchanger to function properly without leakage.

3. Leakages due to corrosion. Though this problem is fairly uncommon, it does happen, and when it does it can be very serious. For most food and beverage applications without salt, a heat exchanger made of high-grade 316 stainless steel is sufficient. But suppose you decide later to use the same heat exchanger for processing products with certain concentrations of salt. The salty solution can attack this form of stainless steel, especially in higher concentrations and at high temperatures. The result can be disastrous if a hole forms and incoming product on the shell side becomes mixed with outgoing product on the tube side. Always inform the manufacturer if you are planning to process salty solutions such as sport drinks, salty types of yoghurt drinks or sauces containing salts. In that case, an alloy of stainless steel containing a higher content of molybdenum (SMO) is recommended.

4. Contamination due to poor cleaning. Proper cleaning according to the recommendations ensures the sterility of heat exchangers. If you have a cleaning detergent and cleaning regime that works well, don’t change it! Just by changing the cleaning agent or cutting the cleaning time, you may be able to save money – but the cleaning could become less efficient, resulting in the build-up of residues. That means unwanted bacteria can multiply and that you are not sterilizing the equipment properly. Likewise, you can run into problems if the cleaning is not performed at regular intervals. Therefore to avoid problems, cleaning of the heat exchanger should always be performed according to the manufacturer’s recommended programme for cleaning-in-place. Poor cleaning can jeopardize food quality.

5. Pressure drop is too high. There can be a number of reasons for an increase in the pressure drop. Perhaps one ingredient, such as a starch derivative, has been replaced by starch from another supplier, and the viscosity of the product has changed. Ask the manufacturer for advice when you change the product recipe and they should be able to upgrade or modify the heat exchanger to handle a more viscous product. Whenever selecting a suitable tubular heat exchanger, it is important for the manufacturer to know the exact physical properties of the product. Tetra Pak can often do specific tests in its labs to arrive at the exact viscosity properties of a customer’s product before designing a heat exchanger to handle it. In this way, the flow rate can be maintained without unexpected increases in pressure drop.


Related reading:

Separators and sustainability: how the right equipment can reduce the dairy industry’s climate impact
The science of separation
A brief history of separation
Separate wheys: the role of separators in today’s consumer trends
Why cold milk separation is hot again
Watch Your Speed – Tetra Pak® Homogenizer 250
It’s not you, it’s me – Tetra Pak® Homogenizer 250
4 things to look for in a homogenizer
Devils and details – the technologies you need for great spreadable cheese
Spreading knowledge: everything you need to know about mayonnaise production
How to control the cost of mayonnaise and cold emulsion production
The great mayonnaise controversy
3 global food trends and the challenges they pose for mayonnaise producers
4 tips to help you choose the right high shear mixer
High shear mixing reduces the cost of mayonnaise production
How to achieve high-quality mayonnaise
New mixer paves way for geographical and portfolio expansion
How a regional beauty producer saved $70,500 on energy costs
A short history of mixing – from mortar and pestle to microns
The heat exchanger budget dilemma: why project and operational managers disagree
Product-to-product tubular heat exchangers: surprisingly versatile
New heat exchanger welding technique meets 3-A Standard
Quantum leap: the secret to optimum heat exchanger configuration
Buying and owning a Tetra Pak® Tubular Heat Exchanger is child’s play
The digital future of dairies: automation and its effects
Four health trends and how your homogenizer can help you capitalize on them
Common quality issues homogenizers solve
A day in the life of a super-efficient dairy separator
What on Earth do separators have to do with space travel?
Infographic: faster, greener skin care cream manufacturing
How airtight separators help solve the coconut challenge
Why standard steel won’t suffice for dairy separators
Do you need help to navigate the mayonnaise maze?
Why two-stage homogenization is best for tomato products
Fine-tune your homogenizer to boost quality of tomato products
The magic inside our tubular heat exchangers
Cook and grind: from rock-hard beans to paste in 15 minutes
How to choose the right mixing and blending process
Simulation and its role in improving your product quality
How to streamline production for formulated UHT dairy products
2 common powder mixing challenges – and how to solve them
Mixing: where ingredients become products
Reduce total cost of ownership for recombined milk processing by 30%
Yoghurt is booming – here is the best way to mix it
4 steps to perfect blending – with optimal yield and minimal losses
5 questions that hold the secret to the perfect product
How to scale up sauce production
Finished syrup production: success is sweet
How to dissolve sugar safely, economically and reliably
Continuous benefits: 4 reasons to consider in-line blending
Cunning innovation makes a stir in the soft-drink world
Beverages with bite: how to process drinks with particles
How to design the optimal heat exchanger setup for your needs
Minimize your food safety risks with floating protection system
Viscous products and heat transfer: 5 things to think about
Corrosion: how to prevent an everyday risk becoming a problem
Infographic – A brief history of heating food
5 troubleshooting tips for tubular heat exchangers
How to make better soup – with mathematics
Infographic – Food heat transfer basics
Lower your operating costs with preventive maintenance
How to choose the right heat exchanger
Case closed: the magic inside airtight separators
Reduce your pressure – reduce your energy costs
How to ensure separation enhances value in whey production
How a Bactofuge unit restored one dairy’s market share
Clarification: 5 things you need to know
Bacto basics: how to achieve top-quality dairy products
3 tips for keeping your separator clean
Film: the basics of separation in 1 minute
4 important questions about NIZO
Condition monitoring: everything’s under control
The importance of centrifugal separation for product quality
Why an airtight separator is best for product quality
How to achieve high-quality tea through separation
The basic workings of milk homogenization
Homogenizing lactic acid drinks: 4 things to know
The joy of soy: homogenization challenges and solutions
Wanted: a quick lab method for assessing RNGS shelf-life stability
Homogenization: the secret to longer life
Homogenization: what you need to know
9 ways homogenization improves beverage quality
The ketchup effect
How a dairy solved the problem of excessive creaming
Five tips for avoiding common homogenization mistakes
Why a tiny gap makes a big difference for homogenization
How to choose the right piston for your application
How a dairy giant cut CIP energy costs by up to 10%
3 things you need to know about the compressed air for your separator
Video: Best value homogenization in the long run
Discover the benefits of cold milk separation
Homogenizer guide: what to consider for minimum TCO
Good quality water improves separator lifetime and performance: 5 important facts
The secret to large homogenizer cost savings
The cream of the crop: how the separator sparked a dairy revolution
Five reasons to choose an airtight separator
7 things to know about separators
Homogenizer total cost of ownership: what you need to know
How to produce more – without increasing your input
Low noise separators – hearing is believing
Homogenizer buying guide – 6 things to know
Why Tetra Pak Homogenizers give you best value in the long run
Get ten years’ peace of mind with unique warranty
How a dairy saved €19,500 in annual energy costs