Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Steam System Integrity...

Ultrasound instruments are very useful tools for investigating steam system integrity.  For many years these instruments have been utilized to inspect steam traps and valves as well as locate steam and vacuum leaks throughout the system.  However, just checking a component without knowledge of the system will only produce marginal results.  A successful inspection program involving investment of time and money within a facility must include knowledge of the system, a planned approach, buy-in from management and communication with all involved.

Inspectors who work around steam are challenged by a complexity of issues ranging from how the steam is produced to how it is transferred and used.  There are considerations for steam pressures and temperatures, condensate return, drainage and steam quality to name a few.  System inefficiencies effect proper heat transfer, can cause corrosion, water hammer, destroy product quality and can be a source of severe injury.  Steam waste affects the bottom line.

For any survey to be effective it is important to plan ahead.  Review the entire system, how it currently operates versus how it was intended to operate.  What about the sub-systems, pumps, types of traps, valves, boiler pressures, heat transfer rates?  

If you are using ultrasound, consider who will be performing the inspection.  Are they trained, do they have sufficient knowledge of the system to understand how to use their ultrasound instrument, the process conditions during the survey, the types of traps and how they are supposed to operate?

There are many training opportunities out there to help.  Training courses and consultants are easily researched on the web. We have a lot of useful resources on our website and education offerings as well. We hope you'll check them out:

Alan Bandes


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