Making PHE maintenance a priority


22 May 2024

Production, process, and plant managers have been urged to rethink their approach to heat exchanger maintenance following updated insight from a new report. 

In particular, high-energy users are being warned that running key equipment to failure will result in additional costs in the form of equipment repair and poor efficiency levels. 

To provide practical guidance, global engineering company Alfa Laval has launched a white paper, Taking the Heat, which aims to make proactive maintenance of plate heat exchangers (PHEs) a priority for manufacturers.

According to the report, poor maintenance of PHEs plays a major role in increased global carbon emission levels. Although viewed as ‘one piece of a larger puzzle’, without proper servicing and maintenance, the risks of production line failure, low levels of output and unsightly balance sheets are dramatically increased for businesses.

An academic report from 2013 found that around 15% of all factory maintenance costs are credited to heat exchangers, with half of that figure due to fouling.[1]  A report from OneServe also found that machine downtime is costing manufacturers in excess of £180 billion each year.[2] Experts at Alfa Laval say taking a ground-up approach to PHE maintenance could drastically lower the chance of line failure and downtime.

Content continues after advertisements

PHEs are also commonly specified years ahead of becoming fully operational within a plant, making Alfa Laval’s case for energy-hunting and lean manufacturing even more pertinent. Energy-hunting uses calculations to estimate energy savings and aims to find new ways of reusing waste energy by changing the cleaning and maintenance program or updating configurations.

Rachel Bridges, Managing Director at Alfa Laval said: “Now is the time for renewed focus on effective maintenance strategies, not only to make the most of installed assets, but also to correct the course as commercial resilience is stretched to its limit. We project there are thousands of PHEs in operation that are not working efficiently which could be unnecessarily draining businesses. It is now time to make maintenance a priority for PHEs, not a reactive response to failure.

“The current situation makes it critical that businesses manage the issues that remain in their control,” Rachel continues. “We hope this new report reinforces the importance of establishing a proactive and considered maintenance strategy and that PHEs are acknowledged as a significant part of a complex picture.”

To download the full report, CLICK HERE

[1] Fouling In Heat Exchangers: A Costly Problem | IMPO (
[2] Machine downtime costs UK manufacturers £180bn a year (