Progress means questioning what you do. Is there something you can do better? Is there perhaps something you can do in a completely different way? That is the only way to keep improving. This questioning is central to how we approach our work. It also applies to the smaller things – like this newsletter. We have developed a new concept: from now on, each newsletter will feature a general theme, starting this time around with spare parts and service solutions. The next newsletter will focus on BREF, the one after than on the digital transformation. Another new development is the special section on our website where you can read the entire content of the newsletter online.

We hope you find it an enjoyable read.
The Hitachi Zosen Inova Germany team

P.S.: We would be happy to receive your feedback on the newsletter – please feel free to send it to

Storage and spare parts solutions: there is no single standard that covers all needs

Our goal is not to turn jobs around quickly. We want to offer our customers a full “chute to stack” package of plant services over the long term. This is the only way to maintain maximum plant performance and economy.
People always say that plant construction is a conservative, slow-moving business. It is, and with good reason. We all know how important reliability and safety are in plant operation. Every day of downtime costs money. This is why many maintenance and revision concepts tend to be traditional and cautious. However, we prefer to say that we can normally achieve significantly longer component lives and availability. We have already switched a number of our customers from a one-year revision interval to one and a half years, in some cases even longer.

People often ask what concept we have that lets us do this. We tell them that we need to get away from the idea that it is possible to create a standard solution that works for every plant. Each plant is different: there are different designs, constructions, fuels, components, spare parts and operating procedures. Our approach starts with listening to our customers’ views and understanding what they want from their plant. There are always critical components that can put a whole plant out of action. These are usually boilers and flue gas treatment systems. It is important to identify these and the components that are downstream of them. If the boiler is no longer a limiting factor, what is? We investigate whether limiting components can be swapped out for alternatives, whether other materials can be used or perhaps better cladding for more protection. We only use high-quality spare parts with the longest possible lives. Our own production is entirely based in Europe and relies on long-standing partners and comprehensive quality control. If we continue a little further down the path of questioning, it is relatively easy to make a component last much longer and thus cut costs significantly. Putting the customer at the centre of our considerations at every stage of the process also helps us to overcome other challenges. Our aim is always to deliver a bespoke package, not an off-the-shelf solution. The services we provide are geared to the customer’s needs and expectations, whether that means taking full control of inventory management or prefabricating and storing critical spare parts with a guaranteed delivery time. Measures such as predictive maintenance, which minimises risks and increases operating stability, also help to make components last longer.

What is more, depending on our share of plant servicing and spare parts production, we naturally also assume the risk associated with extending component lives and increasing availability. You can also find further information on our services here.

Technical evolution is always a question of learning

Small component, big potential for cutting costs. It used to be standard practice to remove, lubricate and refit each seal manually in every revision, but these days a quick inspection is enough.
The term “piston rod seal” may sound about as exciting as a farmer’s dustpan, but it describes a component of a thermal waste treatment plant that offered huge potential for cost savings. By revising the component, we have succeeded in unlocking this potential. As is often the case, it all started with talking to our customers.

Just as their name suggests, piston rod seals seal the grate trough off from the environment and ensure that no ash particles can escape from the process. They also absorb the radial movement of the grate piston rod during operation to prevent excessive mechanical stress. Piston rod seals need to be checked, lubricated and refitted on a regular basis to ensure that they continue to function reliably. This is very time-consuming. Our development team came up with a solution that speeds the process up considerably – by as much as 30 hours a year for an R-series grate with three rows and five zones per row, i.e. 15 grate elements. Instead of needing to check and then refit every single seal, the maintenance engineer can now simply look at a special mark on the seal and see instantly whether it has to be serviced or replaced. There is no need to lubricate either as the seal is now fitted with a graphite gasket. The icing on the cake is that the new seal performs even better and is easier to fit than the previous version. More information can be found in the product fact sheet. The piston rod seal is an excellent example of how we continually seek out improvements for your benefit, even when it comes to the smaller components.

People at HZI: Lorenz Mäußler – a trailblazer at the heart of the company

Lorenz Mäußler, Director Global Spare Parts at HZI, with the new HZI DuoBlock
Lorenz Mäußler really wanted to go into plant construction after he graduated in mechanical engineering with a focus on process technology at RWTH Aachen University, so he took a job with a big-name chemical and pharmaceutical company planning and building large-scale production facilities. He was so fascinated by his work with plant constructors that he decided he would like to work for a company that specialises in plant construction and put himself right at the heart of that company, and that is why, two years later, he moved on. Lorenz joined Hitachi Zosen Inova in 2013 as a systems engineer and technical project manager in Balance of Plants (BOP), an area that was to see sweeping changes as the market shifted increasingly from lot projects towards EPC projects. Internal interface management, overarching process technology concepts and plant operation issues became more and more important. Lorenz had found his calling: creating structures from the ground up, building his own team, identifying and acting on aspects with room for improvement – in short, designing and constructing the “full works”. He eventually took charge of BOP. Seeking to enhance his business expertise, he began an MBA course in 2018 with support from HZI. He had only just completed the course when a new challenge arose in servicing at HZI’s spare parts business, which was about to undergo a reorganisation and had become much more complex following the integration of HZI’s new subsidiary ESTI. The portfolio comprising several thousand items had to be harmonised, but product development also needed to move forward and find new concepts and solutions for our customers. Since the foundations for the successful operation and servicing of a plant are laid in the project phase, it was clear that someone with lots of project experience was needed.

Today, Lorenz oversees a very broad product portfolio that includes grate components covering virtually every form of combustion technology as well as non-cast parts such as valves, pumps, instruments and much more. When he talks about HZI, you can hear how proud he is not only of HZI’s reputation in the marketplace as a major EPC player, but also of its “small” service and revision business. He proudly pulls a high-visibility vest from a recent construction site visit out of his pocket. “It’s a source of pride that this is no longer bright yellow. You can see that it’s had a lot of use. Service is a people business. I spend a lot of time on construction sites talking to our people during revisions and sharing ideas with customers, and I really enjoy it. It’s only when we view the customer’s plant as a complete system and understand where bottlenecks can occur that we can offer solutions that will bring long-term benefits for the customer.” That is Lorenz’s goal for his new team: to provide “chute to stack” solutions for complete systems so that plants can operate to their full potential. Asked about his general view of the industry, which is very much under fire in some respects, he simply laughs and says that he has even discussed it with his children. As long as there are types of waste that are very difficult or impossible to recycle, he explains, there is no alternative: “It’s our job to keep this key technology running as efficiently as possible for as long as it’s needed to protect the environment from the worse impact of landfill.”
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