B.C. companies discover how leak tag kits limit wasted energy
Spot it, tag it, fix it – and save
Last spring, we started our leak tag kit program with the goal of helping your industrial business catch and repair costly air, oil or steam leaks. What started as a small, pilot project has since become a full-fledged program with repeat customers.
In one year, BC Hydro has distributed more than 100 leak tag kits to 27 businesses in B.C., and more than half of the leak tag kits have gone to small industrial businesses without a dedicated energy manager.
New Westminster's Pacific Particulate Materials (PPM) Ltd. is one company that has been using the leak tag kits successfully. Carlo Enage, materials engineer at PPM, administers the company's leak tag kit program and knows firsthand how beneficial the kits can be to the business' bottom line.
"Before we learned about BC Hydro's leak tag kits, we weren't actively managing our leaks," he says. "We always had leak issues, but we didn't know how much they were costing us. It was Ida [Ida Keung is a regional energy manager at BC Hydro] who told us about BC Hydro's leak tag kit program. One afternoon she handed me a leaflet, which basically showed the cost of an unrepaired leak. It was substantial. We've been using the leak tags ever since."
Plan carefully and rally everyone to support the effort
Employees at Pacific Particulate Materials tag seven to nine leaks a month with three to five of them being air, coolant or oil leaks. Most are repaired within 1-3 days, says Enage.
To encourage staff to look and listen for leaks, Enage draws tags regularly from the leak tag board box, rewarding the lucky winner with a choice of a $25 gift card or movie passes. Shift leaders also talk about finding and fixing leaks during almost every shift change, a move that helps keep tagging leaks top of mind.
Enage says another good decision was the idea to install leak tag boards in high-foot traffic areas, a recommendation made by Keung. "We wanted tagging and reporting leaks to be as easy as possible," explains Enage. "We picked two obvious spots for our leak tag boards so that everyone in the plant sees the boards every day. You can't miss them. Each one is a short walking distance from a workstation, the maintenance shop or the office."
Key to the program's success at Pacific Particulate Materials was establishing responsibility for managing the leak tag board and fixing leaks, something the company is now doing very well.
How leak tags work
The concept of leak tag kits is quite simple. Using a centralized leak tag board and a set of uniquely numbered leak tags, any employee can identify, mark and report leaks when they notice them. The leak tags are attached near the leak with a zip tie, and a tear-off portion of the tag is returned back to the board to be picked up by the individual (or team) responsible for repairs.
A simple spreadsheet can be created to track leaks reported, prioritize repairs, and estimate energy savings. Each kit includes a leak tag board, leak tags, zip ties, a user manual with instructions on assembly and use, plus educational posters and stickers.
"The leak tag boards have been a great way to report leaks and other maintenance related issues that are usually missed," says Enage. "We have every intention of continuing to use them. In fact, our staff has been so proactive that we're running out of tags. I need to call Ida to ask for another batch."
Engaging employees to fix air, oil and steam leaks can save thousands of dollars per year. To learn more about our leak tag kit program contact your BC Hydro key account manager or a regional energy manager.