Rental Boilers Fill Process Steam Gaps During Crucial Production Periods

Whether you need to do maintenance or are having trouble with a permanently installed boiler at your plant, or you’re finding your regular equipment just can’t keep up with an increase in demand, a rental boiler can help get your facility past the issue without disrupting business.

Boilers come in many shapes and sizes, and they can be used for a variety of purposes. Whether for utility, institutional, or industrial steam applications, there is usually a rental unit that can be brought in to meet a facility’s needs.

“Rental boiler systems provide an ideal solution for meeting a temporary steam supply requirement. This can be due to the interruption of normal boiler operation caused by a system failure, the need to meet a peak or seasonal demand, the desire to initiate operations before a permanent steam plant is in operation, or to provide an alternate steam supply during scheduled maintenance periods,” Tim McBride, rental sales manager for Nationwide Boiler Inc., told POWER.

Fremont, California–based Nationwide Boiler is one of several rental boiler suppliers (Figure 1). Among its competitors are Thomasville, Georgia–based Cleaver-Brooks; Wheeling, Illinois–headquartered Indeck Power Equipment Co.; Collinsville, Oklahoma–headquartered Victory Energy; and others. All of the companies listed here are capable of delivering equipment to nearly anywhere in the world.

1. The 70,000 lb/hr rental boiler shown here is one of two units Nationwide Boiler delivered to a long-time customer in Idaho to support a scheduled steam outage and turnaround maintenance. Without the rental boilers, production would have been halted at the facility, costing the owner hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost production. Courtesy: Nationwide Boiler

Why a Rental?

Ned Kaled, director of Victory Energy’s Aftermarket Business, offered POWER some examples of why customers come to him looking for a rental boiler. “One, they are planning to receive a new unit, and they want to carry out the demolition process on the older unit without impacting their production,” he said. Victory Energy has supported biofuel, medical, refining, paper, and food processing facilities, among others, with those kinds of needs.

Kaled said another reason might be when a facility has a spike in steam demand and wants to evaluate if the additional steam demand will be required on an ongoing basis. “They provision a rental unit to allow them time to carry out the analysis,” he said.

A third reason is when a facility needs to perform work on installed equipment. “If they’re doing their annual maintenance and would like to make sure that while the unit they have is down, and going through inspections that are mandated by the regulatory entities and the insurance companies, a rental is a very good system to back up their demand on steam,” said Kaled.

Victory Energy designs, manufactures, and supplies trailer-mounted boiler systems ranging in size from 40,000 lb/hr to 150,000 lb/hr with operating pressures from 100 psi to 750 psi. The units are mounted on customized, highway-legal trailers, making delivery and setup a less troublesome task.

“Our mobile boilers can be dispatched directly to a job site, quickly and safely. We provide 24-hour phone service and 24-hour boiler-technician dispatch. Upon arrival, there are no cranes or rigging required; no need for special handling to safely load or unload boilers at either the job site or the storage yard,” Victory Energy says. “Because our mobile boiler systems are engineered and manufactured from the ground up, we essentially ensure the delivered package is self-contained, with single point connections to an electrical power source, fuel and water supplies, steam header, and even blowdown/drains that are required for operation.”

McBride said Nationwide Boiler offers rental boilers that supply 1,000 lb/hr up to 200,000 lb/hr in a single package, with options for both saturated and superheat steam supply. With more than 100 boilers in their fleet, multiple boilers can be combined to meet steam requirements of more than 500,000 lb/hr (Figure 2). “The majority of our users are industrial production facilities such as oil refineries, chemical facilities, food processing plants, and pulp and paper plants. The loss of production drives the economics of renting a boiler,” he said.

2. Nationwide Boiler’s shop team in Texas spent weeks preparing multiple 75,000 lb/hr trailer-mounted boilers, including the one shown here, and associated equipment for a big project at a local electric company. The equipment will provide temporary steam during repairs to the utility’s existing 250,000 lb/hr boiler. Courtesy: Nationwide Boiler


Lead times vary depending on the urgency of a customer’s situation. It can take a day or two in emergency cases to months when a steam outage or maintenance period is scheduled well in advance. “Generally, the larger the boiler, the longer the shipping time, mainly due to highway permitting requirements,” McBride said. “Our largest boilers (200,000 lb/hr) are delivered by rail, which can take up to two months for scheduling and delivery. We’ve also used the Antonov AN-124 giant cargo plane [Figure 3] for rental boiler delivery around the world when they needed it quickly.”

3. One of Nationwide’s 70,000 lb/hr rental boilers is shown here being loaded onto an Antonov AN-124 cargo aircraft for shipment to a refinery in Australia. Courtesy: Nationwide Boiler

Kaled said the market for rental boilers has been booming. Victory Energy has numerous rental units in its fleet, but Kaled said they were at 100% utilization in early September 2022. “We’re going through a very-high-demand period for the rentals,” Kaled said. “And so, when it comes to lead time, we can accommodate customers that depend on Victory. As the manufacturer, we have produced additional rental units to deploy in the fleet and to grow our assets, so we can support the unplanned demands of our customers.”

Victory Energy has been able to slash lead times by 30% to 40% compared to industry averages, according to Kaled, because it is vertically integrated and manages its supply chain well. “Our leadership—and particularly our president and CEO—is laser focused on making sure that we control our manufacturing needs,” Kaled said. “We have been able to reduce the lead time very significantly.”

Concerning delivery, Kaled said Victory Energy’s logistics department is very experienced and capable. “We plan and execute all the logistics for our customers, whenever they ask us to handle any particular part of the task,” he said. There can be a variety of rules and regulations when moving equipment through different states, so not only having experts in charge, but also one’s own trucks and trailers to support boiler deliveries, can really pay dividends.

“Our logistics team is very knowledgeable and knows exactly how to get the asset to the customer in the safest and the soonest time possible,” Kaled said. “I mean, this is our daily life. That’s exactly what we do—make sure that we are well-coordinated with the customer and orchestrating the entire delivery process.”

Early Planning Helps

Yet, the farther ahead a facility can plan to fill temporary steam needs, the better. “The best time to plan for installing a temporary steam plant is before the need actually arises,” said McBride. “Most of the issues we typically overcome are related to the installation and utilities connections. We did a study several years ago and 75% of the time to get a rental boiler up and running was not due to the delivery of the unit but the time for tie-in requirements to the plant such as running steam lines, electrical stations, and fuel supply.”

McBride said Nationwide Boiler’s customers typically handle the installation of rental boiler equipment, so it’s important that they understand what they’re renting. “We provide complete engineering drawing packages that list measurements and connection sizes so that they have this information ahead of time,” McBride explained. “The commissioning of a rental boiler is no different than your permanent boiler. Units need to be fully checked for safe and proper operation, and combustion tuning done including emissions testing (for permitting requirements). It’s usually a two- to five-day process in most cases.”

Many rental boiler suppliers also have the capability to provide mobile water treatment systems designed to operate with their boilers. Victory Energy and Nationwide, for example, offer optional systems that can include deaerators, water softeners, boiler feedwater pumps, and a chemical treatment system, all pre-piped and wired within a standard 53-foot over-the-road enclosed trailer.

Perhaps the best advice, however, is to do plenty of research before committing to a boiler rental. McBride concluded: “It’s important for customers to do their homework to ensure that they are renting from a reputable company that maintains a fleet of purpose-built rental boiler equipment. They should also be aware of all customer responsibilities, which typically includes the installation and disassembly of rental equipment, acquisition of air and operating permits, and proper water treatment throughout the duration of the rental to avoid damage and ensure efficient operation. Customers are also expected to carry insurance that covers the full value of rental boiler equipment. Lastly, rental boilers are really not plug and play, there’s a lot more to installing and operating a boiler than say, a generator. We like to make sure our customers are not surprised by what’s involved with renting a boiler, because nobody likes surprises, especially when it involves more time and money.”

Aaron Larson is POWER’s executive editor.

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