The phrase “everything old is new again” can be applied to repurposing, especially when it comes to costly mechanical service equipment.

Time to Repurpose

When manufacturing companies update their plants, they usually replace old heat exchangers with new, more efficient models, even if the existing ones still work. But because heat exchangers typically cost $15,000-$60,000, it makes sense (and cents) to repurpose them.

Repurposing Heat Exchangers

One plant’s existing heat exchangers were initially used to heat oil. As such, cold oil goes in the process on one side while hot oil comes out the other. Steam is used to heat it further via a liquid-to-liquid transfer.

With the advice of the mechanical contractors at TMS, after the installation of a new one, the old exchanger was reused farther down the line to further increase the heating of the oil and boost the plant’s efficiency—and bottom line. Because manufacturing companies spend a lot of time and money on this process, they want to make sure they get the most out of their investment.

With the new arrangement, all the heat exchangers in the process get the plant 10-15 degrees that it wasn’t getting before. Although it’s not how the old heat exchanger was originally meant to work, repurposing it has greatly increased the plant’s thermal efficiency.

Repurposing Tanks

When a plant replaces expensive equipment but cannot repurpose it themselves, it can sell the machinery at a discounted price to another company rather than scrap it. In these cases, a mechanical services contractor may suggest a plant manager pick up, say, a 10-year-old $80,000 nitrogen tank for $50,000.

In fact, tanks are usually repurposed continually until they’re worthless. However, a pressure vessel should be either brand new or, if older, be able to pass sonogram testing to ensure it can withstand pressure. If it can’t, it’s not a pressure vessel anymore—it’s a bomb.

Repurposing Benefits

In addition to being cost-effective, repurposing equipment is environmentally efficient. Although most machinery is recyclable after it’s been cut up and processed, reusing it is typically far more energy efficient—and of course either alternative is preferable to having equipment sit in a landfill.

If you have equipment you’re ready to replace or are not using, contact a mechanical services company to see if they can help you repurpose it. TMS has accredited mechanical contractors ready to answer your repurposing questions. To learn more, visit TMS at