An operations research and simulation-based study on improving the efficiency of a slurry drying tower

26 Mar 2014

This paper relates to a company that produces washing powders. The focus is on improving the efficiency of gas usage (per unit of powder produced) in the furnace that produces hot air. This hot air is an integral part of washing powder production: it dries the viscous slurry and transforms it into the base powder used in all washing powders. The cost of gas is the factory’s largest expense. This paper attempts to increase the productivity and profitability of the operations by applying operations research using MATLAB and the non-linear optimiser called SNOPT (sparse non-linear optimiser). Using these techniques, a proposed solution that aims to balance the amount of open space between spraying slurry, as well as the overlap of spraying slurry within the furnace, is obtained. This is achieved by optimising the positioning of the top layer of 24 lances. The placement of the bottom layer of lances is done by positioning them in the areas of biggest overlap. These improvements result in a positive impact on the amount of gas burnt within the furnace to dry slurry to powder.