The key to running a successful PMI programme is adjusting for the specific challenges of the industry. In the oil and gas industry, harsh conditions and the resulting risks of damage are big challenges for inspection equipment. Furthermore, due to the scale of a typical plant, traceability and short measurement times - without compromising on reliability - are also critical for success.
In the oil and gas industry, pipes, solder, welds, connectors and screws all have to be made of the correct alloy for their application. Due to high temperatures, high pressures, mechanical stresses and corrosive substances, use of the wrong type of alloy in one component can jeopardise the safety of an entire pipeline or vessel. In a comprehensive PMI programme, all these components are tested before operation and as part of in-service inspections or when needed - for example, in the case of a missing certificate.
With the use of XRF technology, this type of alloy identification can be carried out in seconds. XRF spectra reveals the relative abundances of metals, which are then automatically checked against a preloaded library of alloys and grades. This approach enables fast decision making and saves time on PMI inspections.
The sensitivity of XRF analysers also makes them well suited for detecting trace elements. This feature enables XRF analysers to be used in other applications, such as corrosion inspection. For example, the presence of trace elements such as chromium, nickel and copper in carbon steel can indicate corrosion in hydrofluoric alkylation units, or carbon steel with low content can exhibit accelerated and non-uniform corrosion due to the known sulfidation corrosion process.
A key challenge in the inspection of large plants and structures - such as long pipelines - is the traceability of measurements. Even when measurement results are generated quickly, collating the data into detailed reports can make PMI inspections laborious and time-consuming. The number of measurements involved also increases the risk of human errors in report generation.
Advanced XRF analysers are equipped with GPS, wireless connectivity, Bluetooth and cloud storage to simplify the creation of inspection reports and improve measurement traceability. The combination of GPS and timestamping of all measurements saves time on reporting and reduces the risk of errors, and easy internet access enables automated data sharing and archiving.
The working conditions on industrial plants are often tough for inspection equipment. Damage due to water, dust, drops or shocks is highly likely when unsuitable equipment is used. Also, due to the layout of a plant, it is often necessary to inspect in hard-to-access locations.
Designed for portability and damage resistance, XRF analysers are well equipped to handle the harsh conditions of oil and gas plants. The devices are lightweight and can be carried in one hand, or stored in a holster and worn on a belt. Additional features such IP ratings, a design made to pass a drop test, detector shutter protection and cooling fans make XRF analysers highly suitable for in-service testing.
Olympus's Vanta XRF analysers fulfill the requirements for a reliable, efficient PMI programme in oil and gas plants. The analyser's drop-tested, rugged design and IP64/65 rating improve the return on investment by reducing the risk of damage. These features, combined with fast results that are both accurate and repeatable, underline its suitability for a PMI programme that helps to avoid part failures and ensure plant safety and profitability.