Five ways you can reduce operational risk and increase plant safety with high temperature asset inspection and monitoring
BLOG | Will Vickers, Product Manager, Ionix.
Unplanned shutdowns, loss of containment and injury will all impact your ability to hit emissions, production and safety targets. When it comes to protecting high-temperature, critical assets, we can all work to reduce risks by implementing effective changes across our asset integrity programs and plant operations:
- Reduce exposure of personnel to the hazards
High temperatures, and the potential for explosive environments, are unavoidable hazards in the processing of hydrocarbon products. However we can work to avoid exposure of personnel to these hazards. Asset integrity programs can look to complement manual inspection by the installation of fixed sensors designed for continuous use at high temperature and in explosive environments. Data from fixed sensors allows you to focus the activities of your inspection teams and minimise their exposure to hazardous environments.
For those assets in hazardous locations which need to be inspected manually, it is extremely desirable to reduce the time of exposure to the absolute minimum . The latest high temperature NDT probes enable quicker collection of measurements at high temperature , during normal operation, without duty cycling and significantly less requirement for re-calibration.
- Provide the best equipment to work in the hazardous environment
Ultrasonic Testing (UT) probes and fixed sensors can be sourced from specialist suppliers who are experts in extreme environment technology to ensure that the measurements you collect are robust and reliable, and the data that you feed into your RBI and remaining life calculations are accurate. This will assist well-managed processes and maintenance programs to achieve their goals of preventing loss of containment and unplanned shutdowns.
High temperature UT probes can also enable on-stream measurements from hot assets ensuring you can run and manage RBI plans without waiting for shutdowns to perform high priority inspections.
- Monitor the hazards
We can’t completely remove the hazards, but we can significantly reduce the risks they pose by the careful use of continuous monitoring . Fixed UT sensors enable monitoring of critical assets which are either showing increased wall loss rates or have been flagged as being susceptible. Monitoring ensures that any progression or change in the status of the asset can be detected quickly, ensuring no unexpected failures.
In addition to fixed point monitoring, the potential to achieve close to 100% inspection coverage of critical assets can be realised with high temperature UT probes and scanners, thus ensuring even non-uniform corrosion can be detected and tracked..
- Increase the quality and frequency of monitoring where needed
You can gain even greater knowledge and intelligence of your assets by increasing the frequency and quality of the data collected, enabling problems to be detected quickly and risk mitigating steps to be implemented proactively. Automated UT monitoring systems connected to fixed probes allows for near real-time assessment of the current and changing status of your assets. This on-stream, high precision data can ensure the safe running of running of plants and minimise the chance of failure and loss of containment.
- Share information
The key to plant-wide risk reduction is the sharing of safety critical information outside of the traditional silos. Automated monitoring systems enable the integration of live asset integrity data to your DCS, plant optimisation software and process historians, to ensure data is easily shared and accessible to operational teams working within the plant fence, as well as integrity teams working outside of the business network.
It is important that safety critical incidents are acted upon and automated alarms, generated by the UT sensors, are integrated into your plant monitoring systems in order to “close the loop” and ensure safety-critical risks are identified and managed.
Ionix Advanced Technologies is the leading manufacturer of extreme environment and tailored ultrasonic probes, and an expert in asset integrity solutions Our unique in-house multi-discipline team includes: piezoceramic & sensor design-and-manufacture, system design and integration and training capabilities.
Our extreme environment HotSense™ ultrasonic platform enables manual inspection and continuous online monitoring across a temperature range of -55 to 550 °C. We enable on-stream high temperature asset inspections and plant monitoring and digitalisation.