Fun Fact Friday: Computed Radiography vs Traditional Radiography

Fun Fact Friday: Computed Radiography vs Traditional Radiography

Radiography is one of the several methods of Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) offered by the skilled technicians at Encorus. There are two different methods of conducting a radiography test: computed radiography and traditional radiography. Computed radiography is the more modern of the two processes, and has several advantages over traditional radiography. To understand how computed radiography is better than traditional radiography, it is important to know how radiography works.

Radiographic testing (RT), commonly known as radiography, is a method of non-destructive examination which uses either x-rays or gamma rays to see inside the component or specimen, creating a hard copy image of the item. RT is used to inspect welds, machined parts, pipes, vessels and tanks, concrete, plate metal, and ceramics. Much like a medical x-ray or x-ray security screening at the airport, RT can reveal irregularities or defects within the object being examined without damaging it. A trained radiographer can locate a defect as well as identify its type, size and location based on subtle variations in the film density. Both computed and traditional radiography use X-rays and gamma rays; however, there are several differences in the procedures that follow.

According to DÜRR NDT, “in computed radiography, when imaging plates are exposed to X-rays, or gamma rays, the energy of the incoming radiation is stored in a special phosphor layer. A specialized machine known as a scanner is then used to read out the latent image from the plate by stimulating it with a very finely focused laser beam. When stimulated, the plate emits blue light with intensity proportional to the amount of radiation received during the exposure. The light is then detected by a highly sensitive analog device known as a photomultiplier (PMT) and converted to a digital signal using an analog-to-digital converter (ADC). The generated digital X-ray image can then be viewed on a computer monitor and evaluated. After an image plate is read, it is erased by a high-intensity light source and can immediately be re-used. Imaging plates can typically be used 1000 times or more depending on the application”.

The main advantages of computed radiography are that the imaging plates are reusable, no darkroom or chemicals are needed, the time required for exposure and processing of the image is reduced, digital information can be easily exchanged and archived, it presents a safer working environment for operators, and it is more environmentally friendly.

The computed radiography process is faster and more efficient, and presents a more environmentally friendly work atmosphere. Overall, computed radiography is the superior option when compared to traditional radiography. It offers a safer and more effective method to determining if a piece of material should be repaired or closely monitored. If you require computed radiography services or other NDE testing, please contact Jeremy Lake at (716) 592-3980 ext. 133, or jlake@encorus.com.

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.

Encorus Fall Family Picnic 2019

Here at Encorus, we take company culture seriously!  This year marked our 7th annual Fall Family Picnic, where employees and their families are invited to share a meal, play some games, have some fun, and get to know each other outside of work.  We wanted to share some photos with you!

Fun Fact Friday: Qualifications and Importance of Certified Welding Inspectors

Fun Fact Friday: Qualifications and Importance of Certified Welding Inspectors

A certified welding inspector must have a combination of qualifying education and work experience, with documentation to support. According to the American Welding Society, to become a Certified Welding Inspector (CWI), an individual must have both adequate education and sufficient experience. Various levels of education are interchangeable with some years of experience, but by requiring a combination, the certification process ensures that a welder has the knowledge and capability to provide services without fail.

An individual meeting the education and experience criteria is able to apply for and take a Certified Welding Inspector exam. The application must be mailed at least six weeks before taking the exam, and many candidates choose to complete welding inspector training courses to help them prepare for and pass the exam. The exam itself is divided into 3 parts: fundamental knowledge, practical evaluation, and codebook navigation.

The fundamental knowledge section of the exam includes information on various welding processes, heat control & metallurgy, weld examination, welding performance, terminology, relevant welding and non-destructive examination (NDE) symbols, NDE methods, documentation, safety, destructive testing, cutting, brazing and soldering. Succeeding in this section of the exam proves that a welding inspector has the necessary levels of knowledge.

The exam also includes a practical evaluation section, where a welding inspector must demonstrate skill in procedure and welding, mechanical testing and determining properties, welding inspection and determining flaws, non-destructive examination, and utilization of drawings and specifications.

The third and final section of the exam, codebook navigation and applications, is exactly as it sounds. In this section a potential welding inspector must prove their ability to navigate various code books and apply the various codes as required by a project. This skill is critical to ensuring that welding inspections will be completed in compliance with regulations and will be able to adequately ensure the safety of people in the vicinity of the equipment having been welded.

Additionally, anyone seeking a certification must pass a vision test, to ensure they are able to adequately visually inspect welds.

Becoming a Certified Welding Inspector is a complex and challenging process, but this ensures that welding inspection services are provided to a high standard of quality.

If you have a need for Certified Welding Inspections, please contact Jeremy Lake at (716) 592-3980, ext. 133, or at jlake@encorus.com. For more information about our Testing and Inspection Group, please visit https://www.encorus.com/civil-materials-testing/.

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: The Importance of Professional Guidance Through the Environmental Permitting Process

Fun Fact Friday: The Importance of Professional Guidance Through the Environmental Permitting Process

Many levels of government have their own sets of environmental regulations and permit requirements applicable to business owners, land developers, and more. On a federal level, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) operates to regulate environmental interactions across the country. On a state level, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) operates to preserve the environment in our state.

Compliance with environmental regulations is a critical component of operation in any industry. Not only are they often required in order for a business to legally operate, but in addition, many existing regulations serve to protect a business’s reputation and the health and safety of its workers. Additionally, in today’s society, where environmental responsibility is becoming a consumer consideration, being found in violation of regulations can be detrimental to business efforts as a result of consumer boycotts and slander.

The US EPA and the NYS DEC have three major State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) general permits required for activities associated stormwater discharges.

In the case of many industrial activities, a Multi-Sector General Permit for Stormwater Discharges Associated with Industrial Activities (MSGP) is required to address stormwater runoff. In order to obtain this permit, a facility must have Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPPs) and monitor their activities as required per their industry to submit for annual reports to the DEC. Most SWPPPs are written documents describing the pollution prevention practices and activities to be implemented on the site for each major phase of the planned activity.

SWPPPs are also required to obtain a General Permit for Stormwater Discharges from Construction Activities. This permit is required for the undertaking of any construction activities which will disturb one of more acres of soil.

In urban areas a federal regulation known as Stormwater Phase II requires permits for stormwater discharges from Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s). Any individual or corporation seeking a permit is required to have an adequately developed Stormwater Management Program (SWMP) and submit annual reports to the DEC.

Additionally, a State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) is required in order for a government agency to approve permits or propose projects when environmental impacts are possible. This review is important in legally protecting the agency undertaking the project, as failure to comply with SEQR requirements allows citizens or groups who are able to demonstrate that they may be harmed by the failure to take legal action against the agency.

Most environmental permits have complex and dynamic processes both to fill the necessary requirements and to provide adequate documentation and verification to the appropriate government agency. These processes can be confusing and lengthy if undertaken without suitable knowledge, which can threaten a business’s ability to perform and earn revenue. This makes expert knowledge critical in successfully acquiring permits to get a facility up and running in a timely manner and allow businesses to operate efficiently, safely, and without hassle.

Encorus Group has a strong team of environmental professionals, including engineers, geologists, and technicians who are well versed in navigating various permitting and approval processes, creating SPCC and SWPPP plans, organizing SEQR and NEPA reviews, and completing designs and evaluations for Petroleum Bulk Storage and Chemical Bulk Storage Tanks. These individuals are highly capable and experienced at fulfilling environmental regulation requirements.

If you need environmental compliance or permitting assistance, contact Environmental Engineer Mary Padasak at (716) 592-3980 ext 144 or mpadasak@encorus.com.

Welcome Ashley Slisz!

Welcome Ashley Slisz!

Encorus would like to welcome our new Office Assistant, Ashley Slisz! Ashley has over five years of office experience, and when she is not at work, she enjoys spending time with family and friends and working on DIY projects. She is a Springville native who spends most of her time outdoors with her three adventurous pups. Welcome, Ashley!

Fun Fact Friday: The Importance of Floor Flatness and Levelness Testing

Fun Fact Friday: The Importance of Floor Flatness and Levelness Testing

Floor Flatness and Floor Levelness can be critical to the safety of people and equipment, especially in areas with high foot and equipment traffic. Imagine walking on a rough, uneven sidewalk. You might stub your toe, scuff your shoes, or trip and fall. The same is true on a larger scale for concrete floors in industrial structures. When personnel are working on rough, uneven floors, workers might hurt themselves, equipment takes on unnecessary wear, and dangerous accidents become far more likely.

Warehouses are one example where the quality of flooring can have a significant effect on safety and productivity. Having flat, level floors allows lift trucks to operate at higher maximum speeds, reduces potential for damage to stock, and creates a smoother environment to reduce wear on lift trucks and similar equipment. Well-made floors also help reduce health and safety risks such as driver fatigue or tilting equipment, resulting in falling machinery or products.

Both Floor Flatness, denoted by an FF number, and Floor Levelness, denoted by an FL number, are evaluated through regulated procedures, and compared to standard allowances to determine if variations are at an acceptable level.

Floor Flatness is the measure of how bumpy or smooth the finished surface of a floor is. The flatness is a statistical measurement of how wavy or bumpy a concrete floor is. Individual measurements are taken at points every twelve inches along a line, and the differences between each adjacent point are calculated, along with the mean and standard deviations of the differences. A bumpy or uneven floor can result in injury to personnel, anything from a stubbed toe to a dangerous fall. It can also result in damage to equipment or damage to product from jarring motions created by the uneven floor. For these reasons it is critically important to ensure that floor flatness is at an acceptable level.

Floor Levelness is the measure of the inclination of the floor compared to its design inclination. The levelness is measured by using the difference in elevation between two points far apart. It is critical to ensure that floors are level within reasonable variation, especially in situations involving tall equipment and narrow aisles. Even a slight variation in floor levelness could result in tall equipment losing its balance or colliding with shelves in a narrow aisle, potentially causing harm to personnel or damage to products and equipment.

There are detailed standard procedures for these evaluations to help ensure the safety of personnel, equipment, and products. These testing procedures can help prevent hefty lawsuits or expenses due to equipment and product loss.

Encorus Group offers high quality testing services for floors, as well as many other aspects of construction and industry. If your construction site has floors that require flatness and levelness testing, contact Jeremy Lake at (716) 592-3980 ext. 133, or jlake@encorus.com.

Thanks to our summer intern Mara for providing this article!

Fun Fact Friday: Environmental Site Assessments

Fun Fact Friday: Environmental Site Assessments

Phase I and Phase II Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) are procedures which have been developed by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) to evaluate environmental issues at a real estate site. These assessments are usually performed when land is changing ownership or usage, but are also occasionally performed for an existing property owner who wants to know the toxic history of the property, or if a regulatory agency suspects toxic conditions on the site.

Environmental Site Assessments are usually performed as part of due diligence requirements. These requirements are regular parts of corporate law. Additionally, these assessments help protect potential property owners. The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) holds land owners, lessors, and lenders to be responsible for resolving environmental issues, even if the hazards were the result of activities from a previous property owner. This makes an ESA critical in ensuring that a potential new property does not provide an unexpected risk of liability for decontamination.

A Phase I ESA is a quick, simple, noninvasive report used for the identification of potential or existing environmental contamination liabilities for real estate properties. This assessment is completed by reviewing records, completing a surface-level site inspection, and interviewing owners, occupants, neighbors, and local government officials. The goal of a Phase I ESA is to determine the likelihood that any Recognized Environmental Concerns (RECs) are present, which may then be further investigated through a Phase II ESA. The RECs could be contamination from activities which took place on site or contamination from adjacent properties. Essentially, the Phase I ESA is intended to determine the history of the property and ensure that there are no obvious concerns.

The Phase II ESA is a more invasive assessment which requires collection and testing of soil, groundwater samples, and/or building materials. While the Phase I ESA is more purposed to determine presence or absence of environmental concerns, the purpose of a Phase II ESA is to determine the scale and details of the discrepancies found by the Phase I investigation. This phase of investigation can take a significant amount of time to allow for sampling and testing, as well as any monitoring activities deemed necessary by the Phase I results.

While a Phase II investigation is not always required, performing a Phase II ESA is a good practice, especially for those considering purchasing real estate. Without a Phase II ESA, it is possible that environmental hazards on the property could go unnoticed, and the cost of dealing with removing those hazards often greatly outweighs the cost of the Phase II ESA. This makes the examination extremely helpful in allowing potential real estate buyers to fully understand the liabilities of the property before they make their purchasing decision.

Environmental Site Assessments are unique in their ability to allow property owners and buyers to make more knowledgeable decisions. These activities can prevent massive liabilities for buyers and allow property owners to catch potential problems before they cause massive damage or become harder to resolve.

Encorus Group provides a variety of environmental services, including Phase I and Phase II ESAs. If you need Environmental Site Assessment services, contact Encorus’s Geologist, Andrew Kucserik, at 716.592.3980 ext. 149. or akucserik@encorus.com.