Pre-Engineered Thermal Fluid Systems vs. Custom Engineered Thermal Fluid Systems – How to Decide What You Need

Pre-Engineered Thermal Fluid Systems vs. Custom Engineered Thermal Fluid Systems – How to Decide What You Need 

Depending on the needs of a particular application, either a pre-engineered thermal fluid system or a custom-engineered thermal fluid system may be ideal. In this blog post, we’ll cover the differences between these two types of systems to help you determine which is best for your application. Both feature unique benefits, which is why it’s important to understand their differences when deciding which to use for your project.

Pros and Cons to Each Heating System

When selecting a thermal fluid system is critical, it’s important to:

  • Define the application’s unique performance requirements
  • Thoroughly assess the installation requirements and any specific facility needs
  • Compare different thermal system suppliers and learn about their products and how they approach projects for their customers
  • Determine how to properly install and operate the system in your facility

Keep in mind that any mistake made in these areas may negatively impact your project. Whether you fail to assess the different heater designs or don’t take the time to compare suppliers, these and other mistakes are difficult to correct once you start installing your system. Fortunately, Sigma Thermal is here to provide plenty of guidance to ensure you make the right decisions regarding your thermal fluid system. 

One key decision you’ll need to make during system selection is whether to use a pre-engineered system, a custom-engineered system, or a combination of the two. To help you make this critical decision, the following are some of the pros and cons of each type of system.

Pre-Engineered Thermal Fluid Systems

The main advantages of pre-engineered thermal fluid systems include:

  • Reduced capital cost due to standard bill of materials
  • Faster delivery times because no engineering is required
  • Fully defined dimensions, drawings, and performance prior to purchase
  • Simplified projects and reduced site or plant engineering expenses due to the lack of drawings that require review, revisions, or approval

Custom Engineered Thermal Fluid Systems 

On the other hand, custom-engineered systems are often a better choice for more complex installations or processes.. You may want to implement one of these systems if you plan to provide guidance on or specify certain factors such as:

Process Considerations

For custom engineered thermal fluid systems, you should provide information regarding the following process considerations:

  • System flow rates
  • Fuels, including biogas, waste gas, liquid fuels, off-spec fuels, variable fuel compositions, or dirty fuels
  • Strict requirements for emissions
  • Heat transfer fluids such as silicone-based fluids, molten salt, or ultra high-temp synthetic oils

Review and Approval of Drawings

In some cases, you may want to directly influence:

  • Connection location and orientation
  • Mechanical specifics such as configuration, materials, and paint
  • Certain system components if your company has required specific instruments, valves, pumps, or other buy-out equipment.
  • Factory interconnection and skid mounting for various components, such as mounting an expansion tank, pump skid, heater, and drain tank on one skid frame
  • Custom secondary loop skids for auxiliaries such as indirect steam generators, temperature control units, control valves, and process coolers

A Hybrid Approach – Mixing and Matching Pre-Engineered and Custom-Engineered Components

At Sigma Thermal, we offer a modular approach to pre-engineered thermal fluid systems, which facilitates the combination of both pre-engineered and custom-engineered systems. Using this hybrid approach, you can use pre-engineered components for areas that don’t require customization. At the same time, you can customize the specific areas over which you want more control. If, for example, you can use a pre-engineered heater and pump skid design, but you have a large system volume and need a large custom expansion and/or drain tank, you could take a hybrid approach to the system design.

Using a hybrid approach to system selection, you can save more time and cost while simplifying your systems. Additionally, you’ll be able to easily adapt systems for specific project requirements. 

Heating Systems from Sigma Thermal

The experienced professionals at Sigma Thermal specialize in pre-engineered and custom-engineered thermal fluid heating systems. Our equipment allows for optimal installation, operation, and fulfillment. If you require pre-engineered thermal fluid systems, we offer both our HC2 gas-fired heaters and SHOTS electric heaters. We can also work with you to design a completely custom solution if you want to specify certain components and design elements.

For additional information about our thermal fluid systems, contact us today with any questions or concerns. We can also help you find the ideal solution when you request a quote from us.


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