The Problem

A major plastic bottle manufacturer in Ohio approached Relatherm Heat Transfer Fluids with a major problem – they had frequent shutdowns caused by the formation of carbonaceous sludge in their blow mold. The manufacturer was losing 3 hours of production on each of their 14 lines every month because the equipment had to be brought offline for cleaning. The production loss totaled 42 hours every month – a significant loss in revenue. The heat transfer fluid in use would typically turn dark and show a rapid increase in viscosity after a few weeks.

The Solution

The solution proposed was in three parts – fluid testing, system cleaning and new thermal fluid Recommendation.

Relatherm Heat Transfer Fluids obtained used oil samples from the manufacturer and performed standard laboratory tests to establish pre-cleaning baseline parameters and to determine the best cleaning product and protocol for this scenario. Due to the high Total Acid Number/Viscosity values, system size and the need to reduce downtime, we recommended Relaclean LC System Cleaner. This is a concentrate cleaner designed for large systems and for scenarios where downtime is expensive. The manufacturer added 10%v/v of the system volume into each line and ran the cleaner/heat transfer oil blend for three hours. Afterwards, Relatherm Heat Transfer Fluids obtained a post-cleaning sample for laboratory testing. The results showed a higher Total Acid Number and fluid viscosity, indicating that the cleaner has stripped the systems of the carbon varnish. A visual inspection of the blow mold and borescope observation of associated lines after the cleaner-oil blend was drained also revealed a satisfactory result. Relaclean LC got the system cleaning job done!

Afterwards, Relatherm Heat Transfer Fluid recommended and supplied Relatherm FG-2 Food Grade Heat Transfer Fluid based on the maximum operating temperature of the blow molding machine under consideration as well as the Dual Stage Anti-Oxidation technology in the thermal fluid product. The intent was to mitigate sludge formation and delay the need for cleaning so that production can be optimized.

The Outcome

Relatherm Heat Transfer Fluids checked back with the plastic bottle manufacturer 6 months after Relatherm FG-2 was added into the system. The manufacturer reported that their run times had increased dramatically since the cleaning and Relatherm FG-2 was introduced. They have had no need for a system cleanout or an oil change. ‘Everything seems to be working fine now. I have not had to shut down the system in a long time’, the Maintenance Manager said. Downtime was reduced significantly as a result of the Extended Life Additive Technology utilized in our thermal fluid products and the fast-acting effect of the Relaclean LC system cleaner.