In the food and beverage industry, the moment a product leaves its production line the clock is ticking down to when that product will no longer be viable for sale or use. To combat this, Modified Atmospheric Packaging (MAP) techniques have been used for several years, helping maintain product freshness and increasing shelf life. Nitrogen is the most cost effective, efficient and widely used industry solution to a company’s packaging needs; whether it is for production of cheeses, coffee, dried snack foods or fresh and ready to eat (RTE) foods. Nitrogen also helps to decrease chances of contamination or spoiling, keeping products on the market longer and ultimately increasing the reach of distribution.
The vast majority of manufacturers purchase their nitrogen gas through bulk delivery. However there is a better, more sustainable option, which is to become self-sufficient and produce your own nitrogen gas with an on-site nitrogen generator. This not only eliminates the on-going costs associated with bulk delivery and storage, but is also significantly safer.
The disadvantages of bulk gas supply
If a business is not already producing its own nitrogen, its gas can be supplied via cylinders, dewars or bulk liquid tanks. Beyond the extra costs of having these supplies delivered compared with on-site nitrogen gas generation, each of these approaches have their own additional costs and safety considerations.
High pressure cylinders are the most expensive form of bulk gas supply and there are many risks associated with their usage.
1. Safety: High pressure cylinders are incredibly dangerous if they are knocked over or mishandled and must be supervised when they are moved to or from storage. Even when empty, the cylinders are very heavy and can cause injuries if they fall. Furthermore, changing high pressure lines can be hazardous if not done correctly and turning them on when lines are not properly secured can have explosive results.
2. Wastage: It is physically impossible to get every cubic foot of gas out of a cylinder due to progressively falling pressures and the accumulation of impurities. Each time a business returns “empty” cylinders to a gas company, they are effectively giving around 10% of the gas back.
3. Product Damage/Loss: If operators are not monitoring gas supply levels and forget to switch tanks in the middle of a run or even keep running without gas then products can be damaged, sometimes beyond repair. This is a rather large liability and often requires additional monitoring systems. Failure to monitor gas supply levels can result in massive costs.
4. Rental: Many gas companies also charge for rental of cylinders or tanks. Businesses should be aware that sometimes an invoice from a gas supplier can have many unexpected charges on it as costs such as cylinder rental have not been foreseen.
5. Logistics: If a business operates in a remote area or out-with the gas supplier’s main route, they may be affected by the issues created by untimely supply such as delayed production or having to turn down new business altogether.
Another common solution to bulk nitrogen supply is to have liquid delivered directly to a facility. This is usually stored in dewars, large stainless steel tanks with a volume of liquid nitrogen in them. They share all of the above highlighted issues with gas cylinders but also have one particularly unique concern: off-gassing. Off-gassing is a problem common to all types of gaseous liquid storage as liquid nitrogen is constantly being converted to gas so leaks out from the dewars. Therefore, if a company is not constantly using its supply, it is slowly being wasted.
Whilst companies don’t have to worry as much about operator liability or workplace safety, bulk storage tanks have their own set of hidden costs to be aware of.
1. Off-Gassing: Just like dewars, off-gassing is also a major problem with tanks.
2. Installation/Rental Costs: Bulk tanks are large and have to be installed outside the facility, requiring a fair amount of square footage. In addition to installation costs there will be monthly payments for equipment rental and upkeep. Finally, depending on the extent of a company’s needs, there will be bulk delivery charges.
3. Long Contracts: Bulk suppliers will often tie businesses into multi-year contracts, limiting the company’s ability to find better deals.
Changing your supply
With no bulk tanks, dewars or cylinders to maintain, refill, reorder or return and none of the associated administration, it easy to understand why more and more companies are choosing an on-site gas generator to meet their gas requirements. Ultimately the main justification for switching from bulk supply to on-site nitrogen generation is return on investment. With a one-off purchase of an on-site nitrogen generator a company has an uninterrupted and consistent supply of nitrogen at the purity they require.
Interested in switching from bulk supply to on-site nitrogen generation? Our i-Flow 6000 series on-site nitrogen generators are a cost effective nitrogen solution which can be expanded to meet growing demands.
On-site nitrogen generation is a cost effective alternative to bulk gas supply.
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Majority of industries buy nitrogen gas supplies via nitrogen cylinder packs, others meet their needs through liquid nitrogen dewars, micro-bulk tanks or bulk liquid nitrogen delivery. There is a better, more sustainable & safer option. Reduce the cost of nitrogen gas to your organisation & become self-sufficient. Find out how much you can save with a Peak industrial nitrogen generator system.