Fun Fact Friday: What Are API Certifications and Why Are They Important?

Fun Fact Friday: What Are API Certifications and Why Are They Important?

The American Petroleum Institute, or API for short, is a national trade association which represents all facets of the natural gas and oil industry. By providing standards, recommendations, and certifications, the API helps regulate the practices used in the industry and in the maintenance of the corresponding equipment. The certifications offered by the API are useful for verifying the knowledge and experience of both inspection personnel and technical personnel, ensuring that these professionals are aware of and performing in accordance with industry inspection codes. Included among these certifications are:

• API 1169 – Pipeline Construction Inspector
• API 510 – Pressure Vessel Inspector
• API 570 – Piping Inspector
• API 571 – Corrosion and Materials
• API 577 – Welding Inspection and Metallurgy
• API 580 – Risk Based Inspection
• API 653 – Aboveground Storage Tank Inspector
• API 936 – Refractory Personnel
• API QUPA – Qualification of UT Examiners (Phased Array)
• API QUSE – Qualification of UT Examiners (Sizing)
• API QUSEPA – Qualification of UT Examiners (Crack Sizing)
• API QUTE – Qualification of UT Examiners (Detection)
• API QUTETM – Qualification of UT Examiners (Thickness Measurement)
• API SIEE – Source Inspector – Electrical Equipment
• API SIFE – Source Inspector – Fixed Equipment
• API SIRE – Source Inspector – Rotating Equipment
• API TES – Tank Entry Supervisor

Choosing certified inspectors for your facilities and equipment can be vastly beneficial to ensuring a higher quality of inspection and to avoiding inaccurate evaluations and the consequences that could result. If an unqualified worker attempts to evaluate equipment, the resulting inaccuracy could cause significant financial harm or cause safety hazards for workers. API certifications hold employees to a high degree of knowledge and skill, as is to be expected from a widely respected trade association, allowing facility managers to rest assured that their facilities are being inspected by certified individuals able to provide a high standard of quality in their evaluations.

Encorus Group has several inspectors in our Mechanical Integrity Group with various API certifications, including API 510, API 570, and API 653.

If you have a need for API Inspections, please contact Director of Mechanical Integrity Services Keith Taylor at (716) 592-3980, ext. 143, or at ktaylor@encorus.com. For more information about our Mechanical Integrity Group, please visit https://www.encorus.com/mechanical-integrity-inspection/.

Fun Fact Friday: Non-Destructive Testing Methods for Steel Pipes

Fun Fact Friday: Non-Destructive Testing Methods for Steel Pipes

Non-destructive testing (NDT), also known as non-destructive examination (NDE), is an extremely useful tool for completing inspections without damaging the equipment being inspected. The purpose of these tests is to detect the location, size, shape, and development trend of internal or external defects. One of the types of equipment that benefits greatly from this kind of testing is steel pipe.

Depending on the variety of steel pipe, a variety of different NDT methods can prove useful.

Ultrasonic testing is one of the most popular methods for testing steel pipe. In this method of testing, ultra-high frequency sound is introduced into the part being inspected. If the sound hits any flaws or discontinuities, some of the sound will be reflected at a unique rate. By knowing the speed of the sound through the part and the time required for the sound to return to the sending unit, the flaw or discontinuity can be located.

Radiography, both film and computerized digital, is another popular testing method. Radiographic tests are performed by placing a test object between a source of penetrating radiation and a recording medium such as silver bromide film.

Magnetic Particle Testing is another method of testing, this method is performed by using one or more magnetic fields to locate discontinuities in the surface or near-surface of ferromagnetic materials. The magnetic fields used for testing can be applied by either permanent magnets or electromagnets, and are usually used in conjunction with very fine colored ferromagnetic particles, which are visibly drawn into discontinuities by the magnetic forces acting upon them.

Liquid Penetrant Testing, another popular method of testing, involves the application of a very low viscosity liquid to the surface of the part being tested. Due to the low viscosity of the fluid, it easily penetrates flaws and discontinuities in the pipe, and when the excess penetrant is removed and the penetrant trapped in the imperfections flows back out, and indication has been created that marks the location of the flaw or discontinuity.

Visual testing is frequently used as a method of evaluating imperfections. This method of testing can be performed using unenhanced vision, but also may be performed with the aid of optical instruments such as magnifying glasses, mirrors, boroscopes, charge-coupled devices, and/or computer-assisted viewing systems. Many forms of damage to steel pipes can be detected via visual testing inspections. This form of testing is also used in conjunction with most other forms of testing, as a visual evaluation occurs as a side effect of performing other tests.

If you need non-destructive testing services for steel pipe or other equipment, Encorus can provide the solutions you need. Contact our Director of NDE, Jim Handzlik, at 716.592.3980 ext. 148 or jhandzlik@encorus.com.

Fun Fact Friday: Fitness for Service Evaluations

A Fitness for Service, or FFS, evaluation is a standard evaluation used by the oil, gas, and chemical processing industries to determine the condition of in-service equipment. The standard defines flaw acceptance limits and allows engineers to distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable flaws, helping reduce the amount of dangerous and unnecessary repairs.
Fitness for Service evaluations are critical to asset integrity management and can provide insight into the current state of equipment as well as remaining future life. Often, equipment has small flaws, but is still able to provide service, in which case repairing or replacing it would be unnecessary and expensive. For example, unnecessary welding repairs are risky to maintenance employees, and often cause more harm than good, making it critical to determine if such repairs are truly necessary. This can be accomplished through an FFS assessment.
An FFS evaluation is usually performed in increasingly thorough levels, from 1 to 3 as referenced by the API 579-1/ASME FFS-1 standard. This standard was developed and published jointly by the American Petroleum Institute (API), a trade organization which represents the oil and natural gas industry, and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), a not-for-profit organization that organizes collaboration across engineering disciplines to help the global engineering community, to describe viable FFS assessment techniques.
FFS evaluations can be useful in detecting welding defects, corrosion, general and local thinning, dents, gouges, pitting, brittle fracture, blisters, laminations, shell distortion, creep damage, flaws from overheating or fire damage, and more. An FFS evaluation usually assesses the integrity of the component and its current state of damage, and estimates the remaining life of the equipment.
Knowing more about the condition of your equipment can be a critical part of any business operation. Without monitoring your assets, you open yourself to the liability of asset failure which can resulting in financial losses or even dangers to workers, the public, or the environment.
Encorus Group is experienced in many fields of inspection, including Fitness for Service evaluations. If you believe you may be in need of these services, contact Keith Taylor, our Director of Mechanical Integrity, at 716.592.3980, ext. 143 or ktaylor@encorus.com.

Fun Fact Friday: Pressure Vessels and Their Uses

Fun Fact Friday: Pressure Vessels and Their Uses

A pressure vessel is a specially designed container which holds liquids, vapors, or gases at substantially high pressures. These vessels are often used in the petroleum refining and chemical processing industries, but can also be used in the private sector. The term pressure vessel applies to anything subjected to a notable amount of pressure, and includes everything from massive industrial chemical storage tanks, to home hot water tanks, and individual diving cylinders such as scuba tanks, among other things. Some pressure vessels are exposed to external heat sources, either directly or indirectly, and are known as fired pressure vessels. Those not exposed to external heat are known as unfired pressure vessels. However, no matter the size, type, or use, safety regulation is a critical feature in the production and maintenance of a pressure vessel.

Pressure vessels are usually subjected to pressures of at least 15 psig, and often significantly higher, with many vessels exceeding 1000 psig.
Because of this, the vessels must be designed to withstand intense internal pressure without failure, as failure could result in fatal or otherwise costly accidents, including poison gas leaks, fires, suffocations, and even shrapnel-generating explosions. Additionally, failure can cause massive loss of product and affect profits and a company’s ability to operate. In order to better withstand high pressure, coded pressure vessels are often spherical or cylindrical in nature with rounded edges to avoid focusing pressure at any one point. Many vessels are made of steel, and depending on the conditions in the area the vessel will be operating, some are made of composite materials or polymers.

Most pressure vessels are designed to include safety features. Smaller vessels are often created with a “yield before break” design, which allows them to bend or flex before any crack forms or grows in size. Larger vessels are often created with a “leak before burst” which allows for a crack in the vessel to grow and allow the contained substance to escape slowly rather than in one violent, explosive failure. While ideally neither of these situations would occur, having a plan in place to mitigate damages in cases when they cannot be completely prevented is an invaluable safety tool.

Pressure vessels must be constructed and inspected in accordance with any applicable regulatory codes and standards. For the industrial sector, The American Society of Mechanical Engineers, ASME, publishes and maintains an International Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code that establishes acceptable margins of safety for this equipment. The ASME Section VIII documents explain in detail the guidelines recommended for ensuring safety. Another important code for ensuring the safety of pressure vessels is API 510, which is a code for the inspection, rating, repair, and alteration of in-service pressure vessels.

Encorus Group offers both design and inspection of pressure vessels. Contact Dana Pezzimenti, PE, for matters pertaining to pressure design at 716.592.3980, ext. 128 or dpezzimenti@encorus.com. If you have inspection needs for a pressure vessel, contact Keith Taylor, Encorus’s Director of Mechanical Integrity, at 716.592.3980, ext. 143 or ktaylor@encorus.com.

A special thank you goes out to our summer intern, Mara Gilmartin, for contributing this article.

Fun Fact Friday: The Importance of Risk-Based Inspections

Fun Fact Friday: The Importance of Risk-Based Inspections

Inspections are a key part of any commercial facility, and an important part of maintenance for many personal properties as well. It’s important to ensure that equipment, safety measures, and other important aspects of a structure are in adequate condition to continue to serve their intended purposes. Risk-based inspections are a useful form of evaluation that provide a property or facility owner with insight into the probability and consequences of failure associated with each piece of equipment.

Risk-based inspections are included in the category of business practices known as optimal maintenance, which are procedures designed to maintain systems in ways which maximize a company’s profits and minimize its costs. Risk-based inspections and other optimal maintenance procedures are useful in operating a business as efficiently as possible. Many procedures for risk-based inspection are based on the American Petroleum Institute’s recommended practices, and are performed via nondestructive testing.

A risk-based inspection usually involves 2 key components: a probability of failure analysis and a consequence of failure analysis. Each of these serves a unique role in developing a plan to maximize efficiency.
Probability of Failure (PoF) is the likelihood of a piece of equipment to break at a given time. This information can be important in determining the risk posed by the condition of the equipment and in deciding what inspection intervals to set in order to best monitor the condition of the equipment as time progresses. PoF is calculated using a generic failure frequency based on industry averages, a management system factor based on how well management and labor force are trained to handle both daily activities and emergency procedures, and the overall damage factor, which is the combination of all of the various damage possessed by the equipment at the time of evaluation.

Consequence of Failure evaluations are another part of risk-based inspections, and give the critical aspect of determining the significance of damage that could potentially occur if a piece of equipment were to fail. The evaluation acknowledges all important possibilities, including potential safety hazards, economic damages, and environmental damages. This allows engineers to understand how dangerous a piece of equipment could be when nearing the end of its lifespan.

A major benefit of a risk-based inspection is that it categorizes each piece of equipment by its risks and risk drivers, and is able to better prioritize further inspections and safety measures. Knowing how and when equipment may fail allows employees and management to make safe and educated decisions about how to continue operating equipment at all times, but especially when equipment is approaching the end of its usable lifespan.

If you are in need of a risk-based inspection for your business’s assets, contact Keith Taylor, Director of Mechanical Integrity with Encorus Group, at (716) 592-3980 ext 143 or ktaylor@encorus.com.

Special thanks to our summer intern Mara Gilmartin for this article.

Understanding Firewalls vs. Fire Barriers

Understanding Firewalls vs. Fire Barriers

Firewalls and fire barriers are both designed to prevent a fire from spreading, but these often-confused structures are actually quite different. Ideally, firewalls and fire barriers are used together to make a structure as safe as possible. These are the key factors in understanding the use of firewalls and fire barriers in construction.

The Facts About Firewalls

Firewalls are strong walls built to resist fire for up to four hours, remaining erect even if other parts of the building collapse. These exterior walls are thicker than standard walls and stretch from the foundation up to the roof. Structures subdivided with a firewall between them are considered separate buildings.

Firewalls must be constructed with materials that meet the fire-resistance building standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). Long, high firewalls may be supported with pilasters or buttresses. A standard firewall is made from concrete or masonry and does not have windows, doors, or other openings. Expansion joints allow the material to expand to withstand the fire’s heat.

Firewalls do more than just contain the blaze. They must also withstand force from other structures or items that collapse within the building, such as inventory or storage.

Exploring Fire Barriers

Unlike exterior firewalls, fire barriers are walls built within a structure. They can either extend from the floor to the roof or from one floor to the ceiling of the floor above. These subdividers can cover hidden spaces and are supported by floors, columns, roofs, and other interior structures. Fire barriers can resist fire for up to three hours as long as the supporting structures have the same level of fire resistance.

This design can allow occupants to safely evacuate the building while containing the fire to the smallest possible area. This can protect the building both from fire and smoke damage, as well as water damage from sprinklers. A one-way fire barrier withstands flames from one side only. Two can be placed together to block fire from both sides.

At Encorus Group, we specialize in designing fire protection systems for medical, industrial, and nuclear facilities. Get in touch today or call 716.592.3980 to learn more about our services.