Back to basics: Industrial insulation

Compared to insulation in building technology, industrial insulation is in a completely different league. Both the disadvantages of not insulating and the benefits that can be achieved by insulating are many times greater.

This article was made in cooperation with Armacell.

If there was no insulation in industry…

Let’s start with a little imagery exercise:

You come to work at the factory in the morning. The hot equipment and pipes emit so much heat that you’re sweating like you’re on a beach vacation even before you’ve even started working. However, the wet patches in your armpits are already a familiar thing. Even more disturbing is the noise coming from the equipment, flowing from one wall of the factory hall to another. It will continue all day and echo in your head even after the work day.

And that’s not all. In fact, you are the manager of the factory and you know that even during this day, enormous amounts of energy are wasted for no reason. The pressure on your shoulders is huge due to both rising energy prices and stricter environmental requirements. In addition, the risk of an accident haunts you. It is always present when working with hot temperatures and noisy environments. What will happen today?

This would be the case in industry if there was no insulation at all.

Fortunately, nowadays the situation is rarely this bad. Even so, in many industrial sites, the motivation for insulation is still only to meet the mandatory requirements and to keep the conditions at a sufficiently good level.

Cost effectiveness under the microscope!

The principles of industrial insulation and the reasons for insulating are basically the same as in insulation in building technology. However, industrial insulation differs from insulation in building technology because the range of temperatures is considerably wider. Some processes require really high temperatures, while others go way below freezing.

Maintaining high temperatures requires a large amount of energy. Like common sense tells us, in that case the heat losses are also high, unless the insulation has been taken care of properly. In industry, insulation is essential for energy efficiency and cost efficiency.

A sustainable development company Motiva calculated how much heat loss a 100 mm diameter pipe causes for every meter:

  • When the pipe temperature is below 150 ℃, the heat loss is 6.1 MWh/year (€180).
  • When the temperature is 350–500 ℃, the heat loss is already tenfold, 60 MWh/year (€1,800).

In the calculations, the operating hours are 8,000 h/a and the energy price is €30/MWh.

In this example, it is only a one-meter-long pipe, and the numbers easily multiply to completely different spheres, when you calculate the heat loss of, for example, tens or hundreds of meters of pipelines.

Good technical insulation in industry

  1. reduces energy and operating costs
  2. maintains the required temperatures and thus ensures process stability
  3. prevents condensation and contributes to the prevention of corrosion
  4. reduces the thermal stresses of the objects
  5. reduces sound emissions
  6. increases work and health safety
  7. improves work comfort.

In addition to the insulation, a cladding and sometimes also support structures for the cladding are needed

When using an insulating mat, the cladding is supported with base structures, if necessary, so that the insulation does not sag and thus weaken the insulating ability. The base structure is installed before the insulation is installed. Fastening spikes can be used to fasten the insulation, and they are also installed before installing the insulation.

After the insulation layer is installed, the claddings are installed to protect the insulation. They can be made of many different materials, either from scratch on the job site or using industrially produced parts. Ready-made parts naturally make work much more efficient.

The three stages of performing insulation work in industrial insulation:

  • Installation of possible substructures and insulation fixing spikes
  • Insulation installation
  • Installation of the cladding.

However, would it be nicer like this:

An insulation project has just been completed at your factory, and it went surprisingly smoothly with a product supplier and contractor specializing in industrial insulation. Both heat insulation and sound insulation were taken care of at once.

You dared to give the project the green light, because you received accurate calculations in advance about the payback period of investing in insulation and how much insulation will bring in annual savings after that. So it’s not just about convenience, but definitely a rational decision. In just a few years, the entire investment would be paid for and generate annual savings and peace of mind. 

That’s something to think about – see you again in the next part of the article series!

Check out Armacell’s ArmaSound products, which combine sound and thermal insulation.

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