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How expensive is your “free” furnace audit?

PaneraTech’s Digital Furnace Management (DFM) customers receive regular SmartAudit® services in their schedule of inspections. So, what is the value of a SmartAudit® when there are plenty of companies that will perform an audit for free? Unfortunately, “free” furnace audits can often be the most expensive kind. Let’s examine important factors to consider when choosing an auditor.

The goal of the audit provider

What is the goal of your audit provider? What is the source of their income? How are they incentivized? These are all important questions to ask. At PaneraTech, we are incentivized by extending the life of the asset and reducing the cost of repairs. Our performance is judged by our ability to produce ROI for our customers. We help manufacturers make more glass while operating reliably. We do not perform any furnace repairs, so we are an unbiased evaluator.

Every furnace enrolled in Digital Furnace Management is assigned an experienced Asset Manager whose goals are based on the customer’s KPI’s. Therefore, our goals are aligned with your goals.

Furnace Operations Audit: The “what” vs. the “why” behind the damage

Does your audit provider include a furnace operations audit? If the goal is to reduce costs, this is essential. Much of the damage found in furnace audits could have been prevented by improving operational decisions. A proactive review of current operations can reduce the number of repairs needed over the furnace’s life.

Because PaneraTech’s goals are aligned with yours, we are concerned about much more than what needs repaired. We want to minimize repairs and correct operational problems. Is the batch being run in a way that accelerates wear on the sidewalls? Are other operational decisions causing unnecessary damage? How can you do things differently to prevent further issues?

These are the types of recommendations that are given in a SmartAudit® report. How does it help you to know that you have an area that needs repaired if you do not have any insight into how to prevent it from happening again?

The qualifications of the auditor

Many audits are done by hot work technicians who are good at repair work but have no experience in furnace operations.  Evaluating how operations are affecting the condition of the refractory is not part of their regular job duties. For many audit providers, requesting this type of information is asking for too much based on the skill set of the auditor.

PaneraTech auditors have a strong background in furnace management and maintenance. They are required to have at least 15 years’ experience in the glass industry that includes a working knowledge of furnace operations. Our auditors have familiarity with all types of glass melting furnace designs and refractory applications. They have experience with furnace start-ups and shut-downs, hot and cold audits, and they can define refractory maintenance scope.

The usefulness of the report

What did your last audit report look like? Was it interactive? Did you have a detailed representation of your furnace, or a generic drawing? Were the images relevant? Did you get the report in a timely manner, or did you have to chase it down? How much context about the furnace history was available for you to evaluate?

PaneraTech delivers a detailed, interactive audit report that identifies the exact location and scope of damage in a digital model of your furnace. Each observation links to relevant images. The furnace is also assigned a “health index” number that indicates the overall condition of the furnace and priority for action.

Each report opens with important data that helps you put the evaluations in the context of furnace operations. We call this the Furnace Passport. The Furnace Passport includes the date of startup and projected rebuild date, and any history on repairs and materials. Operational data about glass pull, temperature, cullet, glass color, boosting, and bubbling is all available at a glance. You will never have to dig through files or send internal emails to get the information that you need to review the audit report.

One more thing: We deliver the report within 2 weeks.

What information are you missing?

How did your last furnace audit compare to a SmartAudit® by PaneraTech? Have you counted the hidden cost? If you did not receive the information needed to manage your furnace efficiently, reduce repairs, and optimize furnace life, that audit could cost millions of dollars.