Alloy Dewatering Presses: A Personal Account
- Paul Rothenberger, Vice President of Alloy Hardfacing and Engineering
My experience with dewatering presses really goes back to my early years working for Alloy. In the early 1990’s I was fresh out of college and full of ambition. Bill Aulik (owner at the time) and Mark Aulik (general manager then and CEO now) wanted to try something different in our annual sales meetings. So about a month or two prior to the annual sales meeting, they asked each sales person and one of our engineers to come up with one of our products and give a sales/training seminar on that project.
I chose the Alloy Dewater Press as the topic I would discuss and give my presentation on. I was the youngest sales person at Alloy and really wanted to impress Bill and Mark along with my older more experienced sales associates.
During the presentation, I focused on the incredible payback or return on investment (ROI) of the dewatering press with many examples of presses that would recover the investment in under six months and some cases less than three months. I gave an example of the largest poultry plant in California that purchased a dewatering press in 1985 with a three month purchase plan in which they could return the press for non-performance. The manager called us and said that we mislead him. The payback was not the three months we were claiming. Instead, by his calculations, the press was paid for in less than three months.
My basic message to the Alloy sales team was that the press removes half the total weight and two thirds of the water mechanically instead of thermally. The cost to run a motor is fractional compared to the cost of generating steam to drive off the water in a hydrolyzing and drying process. If the customer transports feathers to the rendering plant then trucking savings could also be achieved and the ROI is even better. I ended the presentation by telling the sales team that we should be selling lots of presses and the ROI is so good they should be selling themselves. I was so proud of myself that day and felt I gave a great presentation. Bill Aulik, the owner, asked me why we had only sold three presses in our history if the press was that great. At the time we had the press in California previously mentioned, one in Temperanceville, Virginia and a third in Seguin, Texas. He then proceeded to tell me that the press was going to be my personal project and that I should get out there and start selling them if they were so easy to sell. Well, I did not feel as great about that presentation at that moment and wish I had not been so cocky in my presentation.
The math and return on investment calculations I gave to the group that day remain the same today and here is an example of a 10,000 LB/HR dewatering press.
10,000 lbs./hour of wet feathers at 75% moisture, so 7,500 lbs. of water and 2,500 lbs. of solids.
Water removed in the press is 5,000 lbs. So total weight is 5,000 lbs after the press and half of what the wet weight is. The water reduction is two thirds removed (5000/7500).
In thermal dewatering (i.e. cookers and dryers) it takes 1.5 Lbs of steam to remove 1 lb. of water. So without the dewatering press it would take 7500 lbs. of steam to remove the 5,000 pounds that was mechanically removed by a 15 HP motor.
A boiler is only 80% efficient so this also increases the savings.
The final piece of math required before calculating savings is that there are 1,000 BTU in each pound of steam. We need to convert to BTU because customers either use natural gas or bunker fuel in some foreign countries and both natural gas and bunker C fuel are rated in BTU’s
Water removed per hour = 5,000 LBS
Steam saved per hour = 7,500 LBS
Btu/HR saved = 7,500 LBS * 1,000 BTU/LB = 7,500,000 BTU per hour
Boiler efficiency correction = 7,500,000/.80 = 9,375,000 BTU/HR saved
16 hours per day = 9,375,000 x 16 = 150,000,000 BTU saved per day
260 days per year = 150,000,000 btu/day * 260 day/yr = 39,000,000,000 BTU saved per year
Gas cost in the US is about $3.50 per 1,000,000 BTU so annual thermal savings is as follows
39,000,000,000/1,000,000 BTU per MCF = 39,000 MCF saved
39,000 * $3.5 per MCF = $136,500 saved annualy.
The savings is much greater on plants that use Bunker C as it is far more costly than natural gas.
For processing plants that haul feathers to a renderer there is transport savings as well. These really need to be calculated on a case by case basis. But let us assume that it costs $400 per load for this example. The press removed 5,000 LB/HR of water for 16 hours so 80,000 pounds of water were removed. This is two truck loads per day. So in this example there is another $800 per day saved on transport.
2 loads per day @ $400 per load * 260 day per year = $208,000 in transport savings.
FYI the cost to run the 15 HP motor per year is only $1,900.00
Arkansas Early 1990’s:
So armed with this math and with my dewatering press story I hit the road. I now inherited the dewatering press line and I made some mighty bold claims during my sales presentation to the group.
The biggest account I could concentrate on was in the state of Arkansas and I tried to sell many presses all at once at the corporate level. Unfortunately, the client told me that I would need to go to each plant and determine how to put them in and figure out what changes would be required in the offal rooms to make room for our press. Each press would have its own return on investment and would need to stand on its own merit. Each project was submitted to corporate individually and would require the necessary set of signatures, etc. before a purchase order could be issued. So I spent a year or more in Arkansas and surrounding states looking at offal rooms and working with complex managers, and plant engineers to determine overall budgets and installation procedures. In the end we sold many presses and have over 100 sold to this one client along with many others.
I have been able to travel to many countries and see many unique cultures by doing dewatering press projects. The press is only one of many product lines we have and the majority of my time is spent on other products and projects. But the dewatering presses hold a spot dear to me and close to my heart. I was right in the end, it is a great product and the presses do sell themselves with the great ROI. Who doesn’t want to save a few hundred thousand dollars a year?