Ultrasonics Testing onboard HQS “Wellington” Historic Ship, London

The Honourable Company of Master Mariners (HCMM) invited Coltraco Ultrasonics aboard their headquarters, the historic HQS “Wellington”, alongside Victoria Embankment, London in July 2019. 

HCMM are “a London Livery Company with membership open to British and Commonwealth Master Mariners from the Merchant and Royal Navies.” CEO of Coltraco Ultrasonics, Carl Stephen Patrick Hunter, is also a member.

Built in 1933, the HQS Wellington is the last surviving member of the Grimsby class of sloops, which served valiantly during the Second World War. The Wellington Trust ensure the preservation of this historic ship. The engineering team from the Trust invited members of the Coltraco team to test metal thickness and corrosion onboard using the Portagauge® 3 portable single echo ultrasonic thickness gauge - manufactured by Coltraco Ultrasonics in the UK. 

Testing of the Portagauge® 3 and its sister product the Portagauge® 4 triple echo multigauge led to sound results helping to prove the ship’s worthiness for years to come.

After testing HCMM and Coltraco Ultrasonics teams discussed topics including encouraging a safety culture at sea, women in maritime and Coltraco’s CEO’s vision for eradicating modern slavery at sea. In line with the UK Government’s Maritime 2050 Strategy focussing on improving safety at sea, Coltraco Ultrasonics’ technology is designed to deliver the Safeship®: improving safety for vessel, crew and assets. The core range targets the two main causes of vessel loss sinking (by watertight integrity testing) and fire (by fire suppression system testing). 

As seen in the photos, the team were able to test a range of their award-winning FLEETSAFE® package of innovative marine safety tools; suitable for crew use as they are easy to use, accurate and reliable. 

  1. Contents verification of fixed gaseous fire suppression systems (CO2, NOVEC™ 1230 and FM-200™, etc) via Portalevel® MAX Marine
  2. Convert liquid level to weight or mass of suppressant agent via Portasteele® CALCULATOR
  3. Test watertight integrity of watertight doors, hatch covers and MCT's via Portascanner® WATERTIGHT
  4. Inspect metal thickness and corrosion  of cylinders + pipework via Portagauge® 3 and Portagauge® 4
  5. Check for bearing wear and tear in rotating machinery via Portamonitor®

Coltraco Ultrasonics would like to thank the Honourable Company of Master Mariners for inviting the team onboard.

NOTES:

COLTRACO ULTRASONICS
British Ultrasonics Technology Manufacturers since 1987. Winners of the Queen’s Award for International Trade 2019, Coltraco Ultrasonics’ marine technology is exported globally: to 117 countries and in service 17% of the world’s commercial fleet thanks to being better, faster and cheaper than alternative methods. See more here.

HONOURABLE COMPANY OF MASTER MARINERS
Learn more about the HCMM here

Keywords: #safetyatsea #safetyculture #maritimesafety #womeninmaritime #maritime2050 #internationaltrade #exportingisGREAT #TheQueensAward @dft @tradegovuk @maritimeUK @hcmm @coltracoUK

Improving safety for people, cargo and vessels at sea: Coltraco Ultrasonic’s mission

Coltraco Ultrasonics are a British Ultrasonic Technology Manufacturer with 30 years of experience in shipping.

Sinking is the number one cause of loss of ships at sea and fire is the number two. Combatting these areas through inspecting watertight integrity of the holds, doors and MCTs and inspecting the ships’ fixed fire suppression system, Coltraco Ultrasonics can help you to deliver the Safeship®.

Coltraco designed the FLEETSAFE ® a package of innovative safety tools to combat the above and comply with regulations

  1. Contents verification of fixed gaseous fire suppression systems (CO2, NOVEC™ 1230 and FM-200™, etc) via Portalevel® MAX Marine
  2. Convert liquid level to weight or mass of suppressant agent via Portasteele® CALCULATOR
  3. Test watertight integrity of watertight doors, hatch covers and MCT's via Portascanner® WATERTIGHT
  4. Inspect metal thickness and corrosion  of cylinders + pipework via Portagauge® 3 and Portagauge® 4
  5. Check for bearing wear and tear in rotating machinery via Portamonitor®

Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call +442076298475 for pricing or further information about any of the products.

Saving shipping companies time, risk and money: an accurate, reliable and easy to use package, from Coltraco Ultrasonics, for any crew members to use.

With this package the hatch-covers, doors, MCTs, compartments, pipework, hulls, bulkheads, rotating machinery, pumps, sprinkler systems and gaseous extinguishing installations are protected. The package is based on integrity, from design, through to life-time support, and is accurate, reliable and easy to use for any crew members.

Our mission is to improve safety for your people, cargo and vessels at sea. We support you locally through our Strategic Partner and a network of distributors worldwide. We aim to support you with better, faster and cheaper solutions for watertight integrity and fire safety compared to traditional methods, whilst allowing you to comply with regulations.

The top 17% of the world’s fleet use our technology – we welcome you to also. We are proud to have the most prestigious award in the UK: “the Queen’s Award for International Trade” amongst awards for Safety at Sea and Innovation.

TAGS: ultrasonic liquid level indicator, hatch cover tester, hatch cover sonic tester, watertight integrity tester, bearing indicator, thickness gauge, CO2 system, corrosion, ultrasonic thickness gauge, NDT, safety engineering, marine, shipping

Meeting minimum fire standards is not enough

Technology must solve industry problems. Not only to become a successful business in terms of profitability but in terms of sustainability and genuinely offering service to the industry in order to reduce risk, improve safety and hopefully have a small part in saving lives. We have provided a smart solution to quick and easy assurance of compartmentation using ultrasound to detect signal leaking through any apertures within the barriers.

Ultrasonic room integrity testers provide interpretation of the fire resistance of the desired locations, labelling them either airtight or giving an indication of the overall leakage of the room. The advantages of being able to accurately detect the exact leak locations and size are self-evident when considered alongside the resistance to collapse and transfer of excessive heat. In a case where there is too much leakage in a room, the ultrasonic room integrity tester is an unrivalled ideal for the rapid and accurate identification of these sites so that they can be sealed. It is lightweight, fast and easy to use, allowing leak site detection to increase its operational efficiency and speed to a degree that has never been seen thus far in the Fire Industry.

The technology exists right now to solve this problem.  

In 2019 with the continuing developments in technology there is an expectation that safety should be all encompassing. We cannot let this expectation continue to be a fantasy.

Case Study: Oxygen Reduction System - Data Centre, England 2018

Oxygen Reduction System and Need for Monitoring: Oxygen Reduction system works by taking Nitrogen from the air outdoors and pumping this into the room consistently in order to suppress oxygen levels, down to the level where combustion can no longer occur. To ensure the system works safely and efficiently, room integrity is of utmost important for two reasons: (1) A properly sealed room will contain the Nitrogen for a longer period of time, therefore putting less work on the air compressor in order to save energy. (2) If Nitrogen starts to leak from the Server Room, there are safety concerns over where this Nitrogen would leak to as it has the potential to harm occupants in other rooms if the Nitrogen leaks into their room and the oxygen levels were unmonitored.

Testing of the Server Room: The Server Room had an area of about 91 metres square. Several areas were tested with an ultrasonic room integrity tester where leakage was probable and the readings were noted on the drawings. These were the doors, vents, cable penetrations and also sections of the wall where gaps were visible.

Results: The ultrasonic room integrity tester identified the main source of leaks for the room, the doors, where full readings were clearly detected. Multiple air vents in the room were also improperly sealed and some leakage was found into the external room. Cable penetrations leading to the area outside the Server Room were also found to be leaking. 

Conclusions: Once the required maintenance was conducted and assuming no changes were made to the room, it is safe to assume that the room retains its integrity, thus comply and exceed current ISO 14520 regulations requiring periodic inspections of room integrity whereby visual inspection is usually specified and is not sufficient. The most suitable way to address periodic inspections is through the use of ultrasound.

Keywords: Ultrasonic monitoring and measuring device, room integrity tester, ultrasonic room integrity tester, room integrity testing sensor, room integrity testing devic

Competitive Advantages of the Portamonitor®

Appropriate monitoring matters because false diagnosis can result in undue downtime, wasted time, money and resources.

1.1. When to use?

Portamonitor® can be used for pre-service (proof) testing as well as in-service (re-qualification) testing and condition monitoring.

1.2. Benefits of distress® readings

Distress® provides an instant indication of the health of the bearings. It measures the transient activity, such as impacts, friction and surface deformation caused by micro-pitting and fractures. Algorithms inside the Portamonitor® sort this data for comparison against acceptable limits categorised by a number.

1.3. Display

The display on the Portamonitor® will show a numeric value indicating the level of distress, for instance: 5-10 indicates the system in “OK”. Between the value of 10-15 indicates the system is “SUSPECT”, and requires further monitoring, whereas >15 indicates a “POOR” system and requires attention.

1.4. Low Cost & Money Saving

The Portamonitor® is low cost and is very easy to use and train crew and easy to integrate into scheduled maintenance. Using this regularly extends the lifetime of key pumps, bearings and gearboxes saving significant amounts of money over the lifetime of the vessel, extending the time between machinery replacement and ensuring failures do not occur at critical times

2. FAQs

2.1. What types of bearings are commonly measured by the Portamonitor®?

2.1.1. All rolling element bearings, examples such as: ball bearings & roller bearings

2.1.2. All hydrostatic and hydrodynamic bearings, examples such as: plain bearing (journal bearing, linear bearing, thrust bearing) & trankpin bearing

2.2. What rotation speeds can be measured by the Portamonitor®?

2.2.1. As low as 45 rpm to as high as 8,000 rpm.

Keywords: Ultrasonic monitoring and measuring equipment, ultrasonic measuring devices, ultrasonic bearing indicator, ultrasonic bearing indicating device, ultrasonic bearing sensor, ultrasonic bearing equipment

Water ingress on board ships can be devastating, to crew, vessel and cargo.

Fire-extinguisher-blog

The Swedish P&I Club have recently stressed that proper weathertightness is a key factor in keeping cargo dry and crew safe. To ensure that the hatch covers are weathertight the sealing system needs to be in a good condition. 

The North of England P&I Club state that defective hatch cover maintenance is an “expensive problem with a low-cost solution”.

Leaky hatch covers account for 4.56% of the total payouts (of claims between 5,000 and 3,000,000(USD))

What are hatch covers?

A watertight hatch cover is designed to prevent the passage of water in either direction under a head of water for which the surrounding structure is designed.  Many mariners may think hatches are robust, monolithic structures, thereby failing to appreciate the small tolerances on panel alignment and gasket compression. It is better to think of hatches as complex, finely-made structures, to be handled with care.

How are we failing to protect the crew by maintaining hatch covers?

Wrongly applied and poorly maintained cargo hatch covers and sealing systems increase the risk of cargo becoming damaged by water. The most common wet cargo problems include leaking cross joints, and compression bars, rubber gaskets, hatch coamings, drain channels and cleats in poor condition.

The importance of continually maintaining seal integrity must take a more prominent position in ship maintenance scheduling as demanded by regulations:

SOLAS Reg II-1/11.1  it states that hatches and watertight seals must be regularly tested: “Where a hose test is not practicable [sic] it may be replaced by [sic] an ultrasonic leak test or an equivalent test. In any case a thorough inspection of the watertight bulkheads shall be carried out.”

How have hatch covers been tested traditionally?

Chalk testing is used traditionally for visual inspection of the compression integrity of doors and hatches on vessels that hold the potential for flooding. Chalk is applied evenly around the knife edge, coaming compression bars or panel cross seams of doorways. The door/hatch is then closed and sealed. Once re-opened the rubber gasket which pushes against the knife edge is visually inspected for the chalk line. Any breaks in the chalk line indicate a lack of compression in that area. It must be noted that chalk testing is NOT a leak test, but only provides an indication of potential compression issues

The International Association of Classification Societies states that a chalk test must be followed by a hose test. The hose test is used in conjunction to determine the weather tightness of doors and hatch covers. The spray from a nozzle of 12mm diameter is sprayed from a distance of 1 to 1.5 meters with a water jet pressure of 0.5 ms-1 This test should help identify any leakage from the hatch joints, although the exact location of the leakage sight cannot be pinpointed.

Why are these methods no longer recommended by P&I clubs?

 Various drawback come with chalk and hose testing, for instance;

  • The hold is required to be empty as cargo can be damaged by water. This is not always possible and certainly poses more issues once the ship is laden with goods. 
  • The test requires drains to be opened posing a genuine pollution risk. 
  • Two people are required to carry out the test effectively. 
  • Cannot be performed in sub-zero conditions.
  • Water pressure and distance can affect results.
  • Time-consuming.

Both of these tests are time-consuming and sometimes completely impractical. Some circumstances have been highlighted that prevent this test from being conducted such as the hose test if dry cargo is within the hold being tested but these tests conducted at port or in dry dock will never reproduce conditions when the ship is at sea and therefore cannot expect to achieve the same standard. Claims resulting from water damage due to leaking hatch covers still contribute a huge part of the overall loss figures on dry cargo ships. This method is neither accurate nor time effective.

What is the alternative?

Ultrasound.

The Swedish P & I club recommend using Ultrasound. As stated in their 2018 report “A much more effective method is to use an ultrasonic device, which is designed for this purpose and can pinpoint the area which is leaking, and if the compression of the gasket is sufficient. The advantages of using this type of equipment are evident, since ultrasonic tests can be carried out during any stage of the loading without risking cargo damage. The test can also be completed in sub-zero temperatures. The ultrasonic test should be carried out as per the class requirements.” 

Ultrasonic testing is a dramatically more sensitive, accurate and reliable method for testing cargo hatch covers, bulkheads and doors for watertight integrity on all vessels. A multi-directional ultrasound emitter is placed in a hold. The opening being tested is then sealed and the receiver switched on ready to receive any leakage of ultrasound via a set of headphones. An increased reading of ultrasound signal signifies an issue with the integrity of the door/hatch. Further, and closer inspection will allow identification of any specific leakage sight along with the severity. This test will take approximately 10 minutes and requires only one operator. 

Which is the best ultrasonic test kit for hatch cover testing?

Owners, managers, marine surveyors, third party servicing companies and other mariners have pledged their support for the Portascanner® WATERTIGHT for years.

For 3 simple reasons: “it is faster, better, cheaper” than any competitor. But don’t take Coltraco Ultrasonics’ word for it, here are 3 customer testimonials:

We did some transit inspection work on one of our customers vessel using the Portascanner and we are very pleased with your instrument. We are looking forward extending our service offer using it.” – Techsol Marine, Canada

“The fleet was equipped with a unit per Bulk Carrier and the units are and working well, providing the confidence that there will be no problems with water damage claims.” Ship Management Company

“Our PORTASCANNER WATERTIGHT unit performed well during the entire period of use, proved rugged and we feel sure that if it had not required returning for mandatory calibration and certification, the unit would have performed well for many more years to come.” Captain J.F. Holmes, Botrans

The Portascanner® WATERTIGHT is:

  • Faster: designed for ease of use from poorly educated crew up to chief engineer – no need for extensive and expensive training courses, simply read the operating instructions in the kit and away you go
  • Better: most mathematically accurate to 0.06 (+/-0.02mm) to identify leak integrity quickly and easily allowing prompt maintenance if required
  • Cheaper: never beaten on price guarantee from Coltraco Ultrasonics who are used to serving the world’s leading fleets for 30 years

 

The Portascanner® generator is the most efficient of all on the market. Unlike the old “Hedgehog Generator”, the Portascanner® generator has excellent battery life, is light and small, has magnetic mount, is highly sensitive and uses smart pinpoint technology to direct ultrasound to the seals during testing.

Coltraco Ultrasonics’ mission delivering Safeship® solutions to improve safety of life, assets and vessels at sea. They do  by manufacturing high quality British instrumentation, supplied to over 100 countries worldwide, since 1987. Coltraco Ultrasonics focus on benefitting the crew; designing innovative ultrasonic solutions which the crew will be happy to use by being easy to operate, quick, accurate and a better method to traditional techniques. Thus increasing the likelihood of tests being regularly conducted, in line with regulations and even going above and beyond for more frequent testing. By so doing, the crew will be creating a safer ship.

Discover more about Coltraco Ultrasonics’ commitment to customer care and safety on www.coltraco.com.

Keywords: Hatch cover testing, watertight compartment testing, cable transit area watertight testing, multiple cable transit area testing device, ultrasonic thickness gage, ultrasonic hatch cover testing, ultrasonic hatch cover testing device, hatch cover testing sensor

Boost Your Efficiency and Cut Your Costs in Food Processing with Ultrasonic Technology

The need for efficiency in the supply of the food manufacturing industry is integral to meet the ever-increasing market demands. Global population rise is placing more pressure on our food supplies. In the UK alone the expected rise in population to 70 million is leading the food manufacturing industry to grow: 140,000 new recruits expected by 2024. With food & drink contributing to £28.2 billion to the UK’s economy the biggest manufacturing sector in the country, the demand for high quality products has resulted in an industry demand for high quality production and management systems. Food processing companies are now calling for scientifically and mathematically accurate, ergonomic, innovative, technology which is designed to improve maintenance and safety management systems, exemplified by the case studies below.

A leading food processing factory in Slovakia, which processes fresh fruit, vegetables and meat is one of these companies:

CASE STUDY – Food Processing Factory in Slovakia, Apple Puree

The factory was faced with a problem in production of apple puree, to be used in baby and toddler food and juice products. The apple puree is stored in large steel tanks, at 4.5metre in height. However, they had no way to check the liquid level of apple puree inside the large tanks, which was affecting their efficiency.

Keen to find a solution, they reached out to Coltraco Ultrasonics. A site visit was conducted by Mr Lubomir Ernst, the Central & Eastern European Regional Director of Coltraco Ultrasonics. After a short trial he was able to assess that innovative and advanced portable ultrasonic liquid level indication technology was efficient in quickly and accurately gauging the liquid level of apple puree within the vessel.

The implementation of an ultrasonic liquid level indicator will allow the plant to run more efficiently and reduces risks by providing the staff with a means of accurately and non-invasively monitoring the contents within the apple puree tank. Ultrasonic technology is an effective and reliable technology for identifying a wide range of liquids in cylinders/tanks, saving time and cost whilst increasing efficiency and safety.

CASE STUDY – Food Processing Factory in UK, Mayonnaise

A food processing factory based in the South of the UK approached Coltraco Ultrasonics after having difficulty with their containment of mayonnaise.

The company produce coleslaw, packaged salads and pastas for the likes of McDonalds, Tesco, Morrisons and Lidl, producing over 130,000 pots of coleslaw a day. The company faced difficulty in monitoring the contents of its mayonnaise and Coltraco offered a solution to this problem. The mayonnaise used for the coleslaw is contained in 2.2. metres high, 5mm stainless steel cylinders. However, the monitoring method that the factory used to check usage and remaining contents was through employees manually using ladders to peer into the cylinder and make an assumption of how much was left. Three issues come with this method: potential contamination of the mayonnaise; inaccurate measuring methods; health and safety risk to the operator.

The Food Standards Agency and the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) supplies strict stringent regulations about contamination. There could be a high risk if there was contamination, for example from allergens and pathogens. This is a principle as required by EU Food Hygiene Rules. It was this issue that the food production company wanted to mitigate and wanted to apply our technology to help adhere to their HACCP to mitigate any food safety problems.

After a site visit was conducted by Coltraco Engineers, a liquid level indicator was supplied to the company. This technology efficiently, quickly and accurately gauges the liquid level of the mayonnaise within the vessel using non-intrusive, clean, ultrasonic technology which emits no radiation. The implementation of the liquid level indicator allows the plant to run more efficiently and reduces risks by providing staff with a means of accurately and non-invasively monitoring the contents within the mayonnaise tank - negating the need for physical inspection using ladders.

Furthering to the needs of the food processing factory, the trial and implementation of this unit suggested that Coltraco Ultrasonics could develop a fixed monitoring system for this vessel type and others like it, in order to non-invasively, continuously monitor the contents of the condiments within the tank. This builds upon the technology that Coltraco has designed for fire safety. Coltraco Ultrasonics have now developed the first system worldwide that is capable of monitoring the liquid level of critical fire suppression cylinder systems on a constant basis. It gives a facility total visibility on the real-time status of all their critical fire systems. Using their innovation and ability to adapt technology to customer required situations, Coltraco are developing their technology to continuously monitor the contents within the tanks, so that the food processing company can be alerted when the contents drops below a set level, thus improving efficiency, with simple and easy use for their team.

Continued development of designing, manufacturing and supporting liquid level indication technology allows Coltraco Ultrasonics to work in 109 Countries and numerous market sectors and safety critical or high value asset environments. The development program was born out of the desire to fulfil customers’ needs with special applications, to assist with cost saving, time saving and risk reducing, making customers lives easier and better. With the pressures on the food industry, technology companies must provide innovative and personalised solutions to the demands that their customers have to face, so that their customers can be assured of business success and efficiency.

Keywords:Ultrasonic liquid level indicator, liquid level indicator, ultrasonic level indicator, liquid gas level indicator, ultrasonic leak detector, ultrasonic gas leak detector, ultrasonic level sensor, ultrasonic liquid level sensor, liquid level sensor, ultrasonic monitoring and measuring equipment

CEO Carl Hunter  and Head of Marketing & Communications Clare Hunter were invited to the Maritime Safety Week held at Trinity House, London on Monday 1st July 2019.

This is just the second year of Maritime Safety Week following the inaugural initiative last year and underpins the Maritime2050 Strategy launched in January 2019. Carl was a stakeholder who contributed to the Strategy. As of July 2019, Carl’s mission in shipping is to improve safety in 3 key areas: 1. Implementing the regulation for seafarers to carry personal oxygen and gas monitors in enclosed space entry 2. To improve training regarding the fixed fire suppression systems onboard, especially the risks of CO2 leakage and 3. The eradication of Modern Slavery at Sea.

This year the Maritime Safety Action Plan specifies the implementation method - click here to read the full details. Shipping Minister Nusrat Ghani MP delivered a speech outlining the necessity for this initiative in order to protect human life at sea, especially in the fishing sector. You can read Nusrat Ghani’s statement to Parliament about this here:.

Key stakeholders include HMG Minister for Shipping from Department for Transport, MaritimeUK, Trinity House, Maritime & Coastguard Authorities, Marine Accident Investigation Branch, General Lighthouse Authorities, Royal National Lifeboat Institution, UK Chamber of Shipping – specifically their Safety Culture Working Group which Coltraco’s Clare Hunter is an active member of – among other groups.

Keywords:#maritimesafetyweek #maritimesafetymatters #womeninmaritime #safetyculture #safetyoflifeatsea #exportingisGREAT

Commitment to Carbon-Free Fuelled Future – July 2019

We are proud that the UK champions clean energy. With brand new records of 16 days coal-free, the UK is leading the way in reducing carbon emissions.  The UK was one of the first countries to recognise and act on the economic and security threats of climate change. The Climate Change Act, passed in 2008, committed the UK to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050 when compared to 1990 levels, through a process of setting 5 year caps on greenhouse gas emissions termed ‘Carbon Budgets’. This approach has now been used as a model for action across the world, and is mirrored by the United Nations’ Paris Agreement.

At Coltraco Ultrasonics we too are committed to cutting our carbon emissions to ensure we can play a part in this need for change. We are proud to comply with ISO 14001 standards for the environmental management of systems. We recycle and use recycled products wherever possible. We intend to have minimal non-recyclable or biodegradable plastics in our packaging and in new materials such as bubble wrap and stationary to be eco-friendly. 

By operating in the wind sector we are pleased that we can help contribute to a carbon-free fuelled future. Coltraco are proud to be a part of the UK’s renewable energy sector via our work supporting leading wind turbine operator to improve their fire safety. As part of our commitment, we joined Renewable UK in 2018, the UK’s leading renewable energy trade association and are involved in Onshore wind, Offshore wind and Supply Chain Member Forums. Wind farms provided a record 17.1% of the UK's electricity last year (2018), with renewables now powering a third of demand. 

Our devices are also designed to be environmentally friendly. The Portascanner® WATERTIGHT is an ultrasonic watertight integrity tester. Traditional methods of testing via “hose testing” which consists of a nozzle of 12mm diameter is sprayed from a distance of 1 to 1.5 meters with a water jet pressure of 0.5  This is damaging to the environment due to the waste water used and the pollutants that run off, into the sea.  Traditional methods of testing cylinders were using a radioactive ultrasonic liquid level indicator. Although these are mostly banned, some countries do still legalise the use of the radioactive units. Our ultrasonic technology is non–damaging to the environment and to the people using them.

Keywords:#cleangrowth #coalfreefortnight #renewables #renewablenergy #offshorewind #onshorewind #renewable #windenergy #climatechange @beisgovuk @RenewableUK

How have hatch covers been tested traditionally?

Chalk testing is used traditionally for visual inspection of the compression integrity of doors and hatches on vessels that hold the potential for flooding. Chalk is applied evenly around the knife edge, coaming compression bars or panel cross seams of doorways. The door/hatch is then closed and sealed. Once re-opened the rubber gasket which pushes against the knife edge is visually inspected for the chalk line. Any breaks in the chalk line indicate a lack of compression in that area. It must be noted that chalk testing is NOT a leak test, but only provides an indication of potential compression issues

The International Association of Classification Societies states that a chalk test must be followed by a hose test. The hose test is used in conjunction to determine the weather tightness of doors and hatch covers testing. The spray from a nozzle of 12mm diameter is sprayed from a distance of 1 to 1.5 meters with a water jet pressure of 0.5 This test should help identify any leakage from the hatch joints, although the exact location of the leakage sight cannot be pinpointed.

Why are these methods no longer recommended by P&I clubs?

 Various drawback come with chalk and hose testing, for instance;

  • The hold is required to be empty as cargo can be damaged by water. This is not always possible and certainly poses more issues once the ship is laden with goods. 
  • The test requires drains to be opened posing a genuine pollution risk. 
  • Two people are required to carry out the test effectively. 
  • Cannot be performed in sub-zero conditions.
  • Water pressure and distance can affect results.
  • Time-consuming.

 

Both of these tests are time-consuming and sometimes completely impractical. Some circumstances have been highlighted that prevent this test from being conducted such as the hose test if dry cargo is within the hold being tested but these tests conducted at port or in dry dock will never reproduce conditions when the ship is at sea and therefore cannot expect to achieve the same standard. Claims resulting from water damage due to leaking hatch covers still contribute a huge part of the overall loss figures on dry cargo ships. This method is neither accurate nor time effective.

What is the alternative?

Ultrasound.

The Swedish P & I club recommend using Ultrasound. As stated in their 2018 report “A much more effective method is to use an ultrasonic device, which is designed for this purpose and can pinpoint the area which is leaking, and if the compression of the gasket is sufficient. The advantages of using this type of equipment are evident, since ultrasonic tests can be carried out during any stage of the loading without risking cargo damage. The test can also be completed in sub-zero temperatures. The ultrasonic test should be carried out as per the class requirements.” 

Ultrasonic testing is a dramatically more sensitive, accurate and reliable method for testing cargo hatch covers, bulkheads and doors for watertight integrity on all vessels. A multi-directional ultrasound emitter is placed in a hold. The opening being tested is then sealed and the receiver switched on ready to receive any leakage of ultrasound via a set of headphones. An increased reading of ultrasound signal signifies an issue with the integrity of the door/hatch. Further, and closer inspection will allow identification of any specific leakage sight along with the severity. This test will take approximately 10 minutes and requires only one operator. 

Which is the best ultrasonic test kit for hatch cover testing?

Owners, managers, marine surveyors, third party servicing companies and other mariners have pledged their support for the Portascanner® WATERTIGHT for years.
For 3 simple reasons: “it is faster, better, cheaper” than any competitor. But don’t take Coltraco Ultrasonics’ word for it, here are 3 customer testimonials:

We did some transit inspection work on one of our customers vessel using the Portascanner and we are very pleased with your instrument. We are looking forward extending our service offer using it.” – Techsol Marine, Canada

“The fleet was equipped with a unit per Bulk Carrier and the units are and working well, providing the confidence that there will be no problems with water damage claims.” Ship Management Company

“Our PORTASCANNER WATERTIGHT unit performed well during the entire period of use, proved rugged and we feel sure that if it had not required returning for mandatory calibration and certification, the unit would have performed well for many more years to come.” Captain J.F. Holmes, Botrans

The Portascanner® WATERTIGHT is:

  • Faster: designed for ease of use from poorly educated crew up to chief engineer – no need for extensive and expensive training courses, simply read the operating instructions in the kit and away you go
  • Better: most mathematically accurate to 0.06 (+/-0.02mm) to identify leak integrity quickly and easily allowing prompt maintenance if required
  • Cheaper: never beaten on price guarantee from Coltraco Ultrasonics who are used to serving the world’s leading fleets for 30 years

 

The Portascanner® generator is the most efficient of all on the market. Unlike the old “Hedgehog Generator”, the Portascanner® generator has excellent battery life, is light and small, has magnetic mount, is highly sensitive and uses smart pinpoint technology to direct ultrasound to the seals during testing.

 

Coltraco Ultrasonics’ mission delivering Safeship® solutions to improve safety of life, assets and vessels at sea. They do  by manufacturing high quality British instrumentation, supplied to over 100 countries worldwide, since 1987. Coltraco Ultrasonics focus on benefitting the crew; designing innovative ultrasonic solutions which the crew will be happy to use by being easy to operate, quick, accurate and a better method to traditional techniques. Thus increasing the likelihood of tests being regularly conducted, in line with regulations and even going above and beyond for more frequent testing. By so doing, the crew will be creating a safer ship.

Discover more about Coltraco Ultrasonics’ commitment to customer care and safety on www.coltraco.com.

Keywords: Watertight integrity testing, cable transit areas watertight testing, watertight compartment door testing, hatch cover testing, multiple cable transit areas testing device, ultrasonic hatch cover testing,  hatch cover tester, ultrasonic leak detector, hatch cover maintenance, hatch cover device, hatch cover maintenance equipment

3 Actions we should be taking right now to improve Safety Of Lives At Sea

We do business in ships. We do business in great waters. And we in London are in the world’s maritime centre.

Why are ships still lost at sea? Why is sinking the No 1 reason for it still? Why is fire the No 2 reason still? And why are hundreds of seafarers and maritime professionals still dying in peace time? Why are the worst operators in our global industry still employing people in a state of modern slavery on our worst ships?

We have regulations to prevent the risks of sinking, fire and slavery at sea. Yet it stills happens. Is the problem one of regulation or implementation? If it is the latter, might each of us ask whether now is not the time to exert our own leadership in our own industry?

Are we acting as leaders in our industry? Is Government leading us as the maritime nation we are? These are 3 key issues I contend the UK maritime industry could readily resolve today if we truly act as leaders, working closely with government. Government have launched the UK’s 30-year maritime strategy – Maritime 2050. And 4 of the 5 core values in it – apply to us here today:

  • That the UK maintains itself as “a premium brand uncompromising on safety”. 
  • Making a commitment to the rules-based system. 
  • Within the context of a Global UK. 
  • And a government-industry partnership. 

Let us examine how these 3 issues - which are aligned with Maritime 2050’s focus on safety – can be implemented:

1. In confined space entry the regulations state every ship must have aboard oxygen monitors and flammable & toxic gas monitors. 

  • So we have the kit on board to protect life at sea. We have written the procedures for their use, based on the fundamental underlying science, and their engineering and technical implications. 
  • So why are mariners losing their lives every year at sea when they enter a confined space and stay there? Dead. 
  • If the kit is aboard, and the procedures for their use are written. The only reason they die is in our industry’s failure in leadership - whether from Masters and Chief Engineers aboard the vessel. 
  • Or from their head office ashore.
  • That is the consequence of poor leadership.

2. The regulations require each ship to inspect its own gaseous fixed fire suppression system for CO2 leakage in order to protect against fire at sea.

  • The regulations are clear that every ship must “have the means for the crew to check the contents” of the CO2 system. It is clear why. No one ashore can check when the ship is at sea. Anything pressurised can leak. CO2 is at 720 psi. That is 45-50 bar of pressure. So it will leak and sometimes accidentally discharge.
  • The Master and Chief Engineer are trained of its location, what its effect on fire is. How to actuate it and to conduct a simple visual inspection of it. 
  • Yet few of them understand the science behind it or its physical characteristics. They understand it can asphyxiate. Yet we still have mariners dying at sea because of it. 
  • We know it is a liquid gas stored under pressure and that it vaporises on discharge and expands by volume. 
  • Yet we also know – because we supply the marine servicing companies the equipment to test for contents – that in Dubai they report that the average CO2 contents deficiency is 20%. 
  • So that leaves the ship below the threshold at which sufficient design concentration can be generated in the event of fire to put it out. Why? 
  • Because our worst ship owners do not want the CO2 & marine CO2 systems maintained. They want the certificate issued by the company to say that it was. For insurance purposes only. 
  • And in China we know that 80% of Chinese flagged vessels are deficient in their CO2 systems. And every year mariners die, ships are lost. To fire. 
  • I wonder whether you study the MCA accident investigation reports. The MCA have some of the best in the world. How many of the accident reports reference the contents of the CO2 system? 
  • All of these combine – not to a lack of regulations nor to the written procedures – but to a lack of leadership.
  • When I started in shipping 25 years ago the world fleet consisted of 40,000 ships. Operated by 8,000 ship owners. Over 5 years I visited nearly 3,000 of them. Today my company’s products are in service with 10,000 ships. Technology to improve fire safety. So nearly 20% of the world fleet are sufficiently concerned. They are the ones who lead.
  • The world fleet is now 55,000. So that leaves 35,000 vessels that have no concerns that their CO2 & marine CO2 systems– the very system that protects their ship from fire which is the No 2 reason for ships loss at sea – may have insufficient contents to extinguish a fire if it occurs. 
  • This failure of leadership is one of the reasons why every week we read of yet another ship with an uncontrollable fire.

3. In the way we crew our vessels, some of our worst operators think that the cheapest crew is best. 

  • And some think that they should be worse than that. To allow mariners to exist in the state of modern slavery that they do is the opposite of good leadership. 
  • Which is why in Maritime 2050 our government has committed to eradicate it in the next 10-15 years. 
  • I believe we will be the first nation on earth to do that combining our maritime with our fine naval traditions that abolished slavery in the 19th century and to eradicate its modern form today – that is an act of leadership. 
  • By our government. And all of us can play our part to inform, advise and command. To work with government. As a core UK value.
  • That is leadership.

Our peers had the wherewithal to identify these 3 problems of confined space entry, CO2 leakage and modern slavery, and generate the policies that led to the regulations at home in our MCA and globally at the IMO. To preserve safety of life at sea. By implementing the regulation through appropriate technology and leadership.
 
As a start, why not read Maritime 2050 and respond to the call of our government to play your part in a spirit of public service to help implement it?

CSPH

Extract taken from the Keynote Speech to the Lloyds Register Foundation
By Carl Stephen Patrick Hunter CEO Coltraco Ultrasonics
At Lloyds Register 71 Fenchurch Street EC3 on 22nd May 2019

Check Your Rotating Machinery

Portamonitor® is a pocket size condition indicator tool which employs powerful monitoring techniques to analyze the health state of rotating machinery especially with regards to the health and lubrication of bearings With its magnetic sensor head the Portamonitor® can be attached to machineries outer casing and takes readings over a short period to assess the condition of the moving parts within. An overall noise decibel (dB) level is returned along with a distress level after measurement that can then be quickly analyzed and compared to other readings in order to discover if preventative maintenance is required. Hardy and robust, the Portamonitor – ultrasonic bearing indicator can take 1000 readings between charges, which is done through a standard USB lead for easy charging anywhere.

Major Advantages with Ultrasonic Bearing Sensor

  • Ultrasonic Technology
  • Best Pricing
  • Three Years Warranty
  • Lifetime Support
  • 12 Hours Battery Life

Technical Specifications of Portamonitor – Ultrasonic Bearing Indicator

Following are the technical features Coltraco offers with ultrasonic bearing indicator:

Dimensions

  • Height: 62 mm (2.44 inches
  • Width: 98 mm (3.86 inches)
  • Depth: 34 mm (1.34 inches)
  • Weight: 225 grams (7.94 ounces)

Sensor

Resonant piezoelectric at 100kHz
Sensor Measurement

  • Distress®:

Fault indicating parameter
0 to 40
1 dst resolution

  • dB level® :

Logarithmically scaled mean signal level
0 to 80
1 dB resolution
Power Supply
NiMH rechargeable battery via micro USB port - Typically over 1000 measurements between charges (battery life approx 12 hours)
Display
LCD, 2 lines by 8 characters
Reading in progress: Flashing LED indicator (in addition to LCD display message)

  • Ok:

DST: 0-10

  • Suspect:

DST: 10-15

  • Poor:

DST: 15-40
Operating Temperature
0°C to 65° C (32°F to 149°F)
Warranty

  • Main Unit: 1 Years Warranty
  • Lifetime Customer Support

Package Contents

  • 1 Portamonitor unit
  • 1 USB Cable
  • 1 Protective Case
  • 1 Carrying Case
  • Operating Instructions

Coltraco’s Portasonic 2. FLO is the second generation of Portable Ultrasonic Flow Meter

After rigorous research and design, Coltraco are proud to release a more accurate, reliable and flexible
ultrasonic flow meter.

1. Accurate - the Portasonic 2.FL0 is accurate to +/-1% accuracy
2. Reliable - the Portasonic 2.FL0 is calibrated to ISO17025 standards
3. Flexible - the Portasonic 2.FL0 has 3 modes of operation, making it suitable to different
Environments

The Portasonic® 2.FL0 ultrasonic flow meter is used to measure flow rates of clean liquid in pipe. The
device comes with clamp on transducers for non-invasive measurement. The Portasonic® 2.FL0 utilizes
two transducers, one that acts as ultrasonic transmitters and the other a receivers. There are three
principles of operation; V-method, W-method or Z-method which refers to transducer positioning. The
software calculates the time it takes for the ultrasonic pulse to pass from the transmitter to the
receiver, which is dependent on the flow rate.

With no moving parts and an easy digital set up mean it’s a cost effective and time effective
maintenance solution. Reduction of maintenance time and cost is a driving factor within any business
operation with pipework installed. Accurate flow data provides the chance to make energy saving
measures by fine tuning the systems.

Portasonic® 2.FL0 can be used for spot checks, using an internal, rechargeable battery or for extended
continuous operation as a 4-20mA flow transmitter with AC power input. The ease of use and accuracy
of Portasonic® 2.FL0 allows for improved business continuity and safer buildings and industrial facilities
across a variety of industry verticals. With the ability to conduct spot checks at mandated intervals, full
integrity of pipework can be ensured.

Keywords: Ultrasonic flow meter, ultrasonic portable flow meter, portable ultrasonic flow meter, ultrasonic monitoring equipment, ultrasonic measuring devices, ultrasonic monitoring and measuring equipment

All you should know about Coltraco Ultrasonics!

Coltraco Ultrasonics strive towards creating innovative, reliable and effective equipment to provide a level of safety that goes beyond minimal compliance regulations for true safety – this is the Safeship® initiative at sea, and Safesite® initiative on land – supported by lifetime after sales customer care. We are proud to have the most prestigious award in the UK: “the Queen’s Award for International Trade” amongst awards for Safety at Sea and Innovation

We deliver the Safesite®:

We have a holistic approach to save time and cost - improving safety of life, asset and infrastructure. Operating in 109 countries since 1987, this leading British manufacturer of inspection tools and constant ultrasonic monitoring and measuring equipment:

  • Contents verification of fixed gaseous fire suppression systems (CO2, NOVEC™ 1230 and FM-200™, etc) via Portalevel® MAX
  • Convert liquid level to weight or mass of suppressant agent via Portasteele® CALCULATOR
  • Test compartmentation integrity in buildings and civil engineering structures to complement door fan testing, via Portascanner® 520
  • Inspect metal thickness and corrosion of cylinders + pipework via Portagauge® 3 + 4
  • Check for bearing wear and tear in rotating machinery via Portamonitor®

Coltraco Ultrasonics are proud exporters, exporting 89% to 109 countries: 40% to Asia, 10% to the Middle East, 15% to Europe, 17% to North America and the balance to South America and Africa. Our global network of Strategic Partners, ODA Service Centres and Distributors supports Coltraco Ultrasonics exporters. Exporting is at Coltraco’s core and a consequence of conducting fine science and manufacturing in the UK. Great science is based on the integrity of it, and that distinguishes how Coltraco compete.

Coltraco Ultrasonics operate in multiple market sectors: Shipping, Fire, Naval, Offshore, Power Generating, Electricity Distribution, Data Centres, Banks, Telecommunications, Marine Surveying, Rail, Mining, Pharmaceuticals and Food Processing and most recently in Renewable Wind Energy.

We are:
Faster:
Our ultrasonic technology is designed to be the simplest, most effective method to inspect quickly
Better:
We are committed to integrity throughout our company from design, manufacture, supply and after sales support to make sure we are world-leaders
Cheaper:
We offer cost effective solutions as well as offering a “never beaten on price guarantee”

Keywords: Ultrasonic monitoring and measuring equipment, ultrasonic liquid level indicator, watertight integrity testing, liquid level to mass conversion calculator, ultrasonic level sensor, ultrasonic room integrity tester, ultrasonic liquid level sensor, ultrasonic gas leak detector, liquid gas level indicator

Pledge your support to the Portascanner® Watertight – Hatch Cover Tester

Owners, managers, marine surveyors, third party servicing companies and other mariners have pledged their support for the Portascanner® WATERTIGHT for years. The Portascanner® WATERTIGHT is the portable Ultrasonic Watertight Integrity indicator – for testing watertight and weather-tight seals.

It is ideal for checking the hatch-covers, doors, cable transit areas, scuttles, flanges, shell doors, steering gear hatches etc. Designed primarily to enhance the ease and accuracy with which critical watertight, airtight or weather tight seals can be inspected for leak sites or areas of reduced compression in the seal.

The Portascanner® WATERTIGHT is:

  • Faster: designed for ease of use from poorly educated crew up to chief engineer – no need for extensive and expensive training courses, simply read the operating instructions in the kit and away you go
  • Better: most mathematically accurate to 0.06 (+/-0.02mm) to identify leak integrity quickly and easily allowing prompt maintenance if required
  • Cheaper: never beaten on price guarantee from Coltraco Ultrasonics who are used to serving the world’s leading fleets for 30 years.

 

It is faster, better and cheaper than any competitor. But don’t take Coltraco Ultrasonics’ word for it, here are 3 customer testimonials:

“We did some transit inspection work on one of our customers vessel using the Portascanner and we are very pleased with your instrument. We are looking forward extending our service offer using it.” – Techsol Marine, Canada

“The fleet was equipped with a unit per Bulk Carrier and the units are and working well, providing the confidence that there will be no problems with water damage claims.” Ship Management Company

“Our PORTASCANNER WATERTIGHT unit performed well during the entire period of use, proved rugged and we feel sure that if it had not required returning for mandatory calibration and certification, the unit would have performed well for many more years to come.” Captain J.F. Holmes, Botrans

Key Applications

Watertight Doors:
Watertight Doors on offshore Oil & Gas Rigs, Naval and Marine Vessels are regularly inspected & maintained to ensure the integrity of the Bulkheads and watertight barriers are secure with this ultrasonic hatch cover tester. If these areas are neglected, there can be drastic impacts on flood prevention in the event of a major incident, which is exactly what the Portascanner® helps to avoid.

Removing old fashioned and inaccurate chalk testing, the Portascanner Technology provides a very quick and accurate method to identify problem areas and fix the issues that exist within these seals.

Bulk Carrier Hatches:
The Portascanner® Watertight (watertight integrity tester) can used onboard bulk carriers for inspecting the Watertight or Weather tight hatches for leak sites. The magnetic generator can be positioned just inside the hold, on the hatch combing, removing the need to climb down to position the generator at the bottom of the hold on the tank top.

It is used by the crew for regular maintenance to dramatically reduce the risk of cargo damage from water ingress, and by Marine surveyors for carrying out P&I, Classification Society or Insurance surveys.

Multiple Cable Transits (MCTs):
Cable Transit Seals provide a key element in maintaining the integrity of bulkheads and watertight seals onboard Naval, Offshore Oil & Gas and Marine assets. As one of the most neglected areas onboard, having the means to quickly identify the exact location and severity of issues in MCTs can dramatically assist Contractors and Fleet Operators to enhance the flood, fire & smoke protection that a correctly installed MCT seal provides.

Keywords: Multiple cable transit areas testing device, ultrasonic hatch cover tester, watertight integrity tester, watertight compartment doors testing, hatch cover testing, ultrasonic monitoring and measuring equipment, ultrasonic hatch cover testing, ultrasonic leak detector, hatch cover tester, hatch cover maintenance, ultrasonic thickness gauge, hatch cover sensor, ultrasonic hatch cover device, ultrasonic hatch cover sensors

Obtain Weight of Cylinders in 60 Seconds with Portasteele® Calculator

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Identify the weight of cylinder contents by converting the liquid level height (taken by a Portalevel®) using this award winning Calculator application.

Type:

It’s a liquid level to weight conversion calculator app on a 7-inch hand-held ruggedised tablet.

Function:

Designed to convert the liquid level of CO2, FM-200™, Novec™1230, Halons into weight, for easy servicing and reporting of cylinders.

Save Money, Risk and Time:

1. Save Money

Add value to servicing and enhance safety management system thanks to the accurate and reliable datalogging capability, which enables the results to be recorded, downloaded and emailed as a CSV file

2. Save Risk

Traditional method of manually weighing fire suppression system cylinders is no longer necessary, by using Portalevel®  to find the level height and this app to convert into the fill weight.

3. Save Time

Together with Portalevel® this app on the 7” rugged tablet enables a competent user to test a cylinder to identify contents loss in under 60 seconds.

Three Core Benefits:

Make fire system servicing easier, faster and safer

1.First In The World:

The Portasteele® CALCULATOR is the first in the world to provide agent weight readings without physically weighing the fire suppression cylinders to comply with fire safety regulations.

2.Highly Accurate:

It takes into account the dimensions of practically any cylinder, the type of agent being measured and the ambient temperature therefore providing accurate results in a variety of conditions.

3.Save Cost Of Man Hours:

Decreasing the time to regularly and effectively test cylinder agent weights, when paired with a liquid level indicator, Portasteele® CALCULATOR will reduce the inconvenience and costly man hours required for testing.

Keywords: Portasteele® CALCULATOR, cylinder weight, fire suppression systems, liquid level, ultrasonic liquid level indicator, engineering safety

Coltraco Ultrasonic as a Leading Manufacturer of Safety Equipment

Coltraco Ultrasonics strive towards creating innovative, reliable and effective technology to provide a level of safety that goes beyond minimal compliance of regulations for true safety – this is the Safesite® initiative on land. This is supported by lifetime after sales customer care. Coltraco Ultrasonics are proud exporters, with 89% of export output going to 109 countries: 40% to Asia, 10% to the Middle East, 15% to Europe, 17% to North America and the balance to South America and Africa. At Coltraco’s core is exporting and is a consequence of the global appeal of its high-end science and technology R&D and manufacturing capability in the UK.

Coltraco Ultrasonics operate in multiple market sectors:

Shipping, Fire, Naval, Offshore, Power Generation, Electricity Distribution, Data Centres, Banks, Telecommunications, Marine Surveying, Rail, Mining, Pharmaceuticals and Food Processing and most recently in Renewable Wind Energy.

Coltraco Ultrasonic’s expertise is focused upon 3 core technology strands, which are “cheaper, faster and better” and their support:

Liquid level indication:

Specifically inspecting fire extinguishing systems, primarily pressurised liquefied gaseous ones as well as sprinklers, by a flagship UL and ABS approved Portalevel® MAX (ultrasonic liquid level indicator) range of products and our unique fixed monitoring system, Permalevel® and a whole range of other industrial liquids in cylinders and tanks.

Seal integrity:

Watertight integrity of marine structures such as hatch-covers, multiple cable transit areas, operational citadels and watertight compartment doors with ABS Type-approved Portascanner® Watertight (ultrasonic hatch cover tester) and compartmentation testing in buildings and civil engineering structures to supplement Door Fan Testing with Portascanner® 520.

Condition monitoring:

Through bearing monitoring, thickness gauging and flow monitoring, condition monitoring is established.

After Sales:

Support for the lifetime of customer equipment, recommended annual calibration at our authorised Organisational Delegated Authorities (ODA) service centres and optional Portacare® total care programme.

Keywords: Ultrasonic liquid level indicator, liquid level indicator, ultrasonic level indicator,  ultrasonic level sensor, ultrasonic liquid tester, liquid level tester, ultrasonic leak detector, hatch cover tester, ultrasonic hatch cover tester, ultrasonic gas leak detector, hatch cover maintenance, ultrasonic liquid level sensor

Why compartment testing is overlooked and undervalued?

Would you enter a building if you were told as you stepped in that in the event of a fire there was a chance that the extinguishing system wouldn’t put it out because the fire couldn’t be contained?

NO! People expect, and rightfully so, that in the event of a fire the extinguishing systems would be in full working order to do just that – extinguish.

Hot Numbers:

  • Every 7 seconds, a fire breaks out, worldwide
  • CO2 is stored at 49 Bar pressure, but Nitrogen-based systems up to 300 Bar – increasing risk of leakage or accidental discharge
  • Annual servicing of gaseous systems is not constant monitoring
  • Poorly maintained sprinkler systems leak; gaseous systems discharge
  • 700 fatalities caused by fire in the UK
  • £7bn is the cost of fire to the UK economy according to Gov UK: every day £3.4m in costs by business disruption caused by fire – £1.3bn p.a.
  • 44% of all insurance claims are caused by fire

What is compartmentation?

So going back to the importance of compartmentation. Very briefly, it is related to fire stopping in walls and floors, to reduce the spread of fire. Compartmentation often relates to room integrity testing to ensure that a room is sufficiently sealed, to hold in the gaseous extinguishing agent once its been actuated. Liquefied Gaseous systems are typically made up of CO2, FM200™ or

Novec™ 1230, and non-liquefied systems are typically Inergen™ or Nitrogen. Leak sites in the room could mean that the comparted area may not withhold the fire or gaseous extinguishing agent, which has been specifically designed for the space (called design concentration). The likelihood of the gaseous system effectively extinguishing the fire gets lower and lower as the protected area becomes larger than the size that the extinguishing system was designed for.

This is not a game of chance. The lives of people depend upon it. Enough is enough. The technology of ultrasonic hatch cover testing exists right now to support Door Fan Testing in providing a holistic and thorough integrity test of critical infrastructure. It is called Portascanner™ 520.

What is the opinion of leading researchers on compartmentation?

Leading researchers and scientists agree that the size of the compartments and their relation to fire resistance is key. As well as size, issues in the quality of compartmentation walls can come from maintenance, minor works and refurbishments. Contractors carrying out such tasks can occasionally destroy the compartmentation integrity of the wall, floor or ceilings if they were unaware that the area is a comparted space. This is emphasised in a review by the BRE

(Building Research Establishment) report from 2015, stating that: “The biggest issue with fire protection in concealed spaces is that of quality of construction. Poor workmanship, with inappropriate materials, resulting in the inadequate protection of concealed spaces, is the main reasons for fire (and smoke) spread via these routes.” Therefore, following maintenance it is “good practice” to ensure the fire resistance of walls, floors and ceilings and to safeguard again if necessary. Emphasised by the BRE is the important of compartmentation, because if it is not upheld, lives are put at stake, “The fire protection of concealed spaces is of prime importance because any deficiencies in installation and materials are not readily apparent and may quickly be covered over. Any inadequacies in such fire protection cannot be observed by the building users and, unlike other engineering provisions within the building, will not be apparent by its impact on everyday life.

Keywords: Hatch cover testing, ultrasonic hatch cover tester, hatch cover tester, hatch cover maintenance, hatch cover sensor, ultrasonic leak detector, watertight integrity tester, ultrasonic monitoring and measuring equipment

Who are Coltraco Ultrasonics?

Coltraco Ultrasonics is a British Ultrasonics technology manufacturer. Since 1987 we have designed and manufactured our range of ultrasonic products and systems in the UK. Our ultrasonic technology focusses on liquid level indication and seal integrity testing, supported by condition monitoring technology and after sales servicing.

Our mission is to be the global market leader in designing and manufacturing our Safesite® and Safeship® product range - in the monitoring of gaseous systems and watertight/compartment monitoring – across the marine and land domains - to develop mutually supporting systems, software and technical support 24/7, generate world-leading research and be faster, cheaper, better – globally - in our 109 countries overseas & into which 89% of our output is exported.

We export 89% to 109 countries: 40% to Asia, 10% to the Middle East, 15% to Europe, 17% to North America and the balance to South America and Africa. There is no product amongst our core technologies where we cannot be “cheaper, faster, better” Exporting is at our core and a consequence of conducting fine science and manufacturing in the UK. Great science is based on the integrity of it, and that distinguishes how we compete. We offer 20 years through-life technical support to all our ultrasonic monitoring and measuring equipment and systems, including trade in credits and upgrades.

What is Coltraco capable of?

Our core Safesite® and Safeship® technologies, which comprise the FLEETSAFE and FIRETEST packages are in the monitoring of:

  • Fire extinguishing systems, primarily pressurised liquefied gaseous ones as well as sprinklers, by our range ofPortalevel® ultrasonic liquid level indicator models suited to every application and budget and our unique fixed liquid level constant monitoring system Permalevel®.
  • Watertight integrity (ultrasonic hatch cover testing device) of marine structures such as hatch-covers, multiple cable transit areas and watertight compartment doors with ABS Type-approved Portascanner® Watertight ultrasonic hatch cover tester.
  • Compartmentation testing in buildings and civil engineering structures to supplement Door Fan Testing with Portascanner® 520 room integrity tester.
  • Condition monitoring through Portamonitor® bearing indicator, Portagauge® ultrasonic thickness gauge and Portasonic® 2.FL0 portable flow meter.

Where do Coltraco operate?

  • We operate in multiple market sectors: Shipping, Fire, Naval, Offshore, Power Generating, Electricity Distribution, Data Centres, Banks, Telecommunications, Marine Surveying, Rail, Mining, Pharmaceuticals and Food Processing and most recently in Renewable Wind Energy.
  • Supported by our global network of Strategic Partners, ODA Service Centres and Distributors,
  • Across 109 countries worldwide.

Keywords: Ultrasonic monitoring and measuring equipment, hatch cover testing, watertight integrity testing, watertight compartment doors testing , CO2 and marine CO2 systems, ultrasonic hatch cover testing, hatch cover tester

Portacare® Total Care Package was launched on July 19- 2018

Portacare® Total Care Package is the service package to complement all the Coltraco range. It is an enhanced after sales support maintenance package. Ideal for customers who are keen to ensure top quality customer care going above and beyond to ensure the accuracy and reliability of their Coltraco products.

  • Peace of mind
  • Transfer the risk back to us
  • Cap your costs
  • Tailored Care

Package includes:

1. CCC+:
All usual customers’ care commitments
2. Capped Costs:
Portacare total care package gives you fixed costs for 5 years
3. All Calibrations Covered:
All calibration costs within the first 5 years period (total of 4)
4. Free Replacements:
If obsolescence occurs, you receive a free like-for-like replacement
5. Priority Assistance:
Total Support, quickest TATs (Turn around time)
6. Free 1st Repair:
First level repair is for free
7. 10% Discount:
For any second product purchase
8. 25% discount:
On upgrades, repairs and spares
9. Exclusive Discounts:
Most favoured customer status

Choose Portacare® total care support for your Coltraco® products with fixed costs of maintenance for 5 years, exclusive discounts and priority assistance. 

Keywords: ultrasonic liquid level indicator, ultrasonic monitoring and measuring equipment, liquid level tester, total care support

How Industry 4.0 Can Help with Fire Safety Risks?

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High value and safety critical industries such as aluminum are not strangers to risk. Fire is one such risk. And yet the fi re safety is often neglected or misunderstood. Many in fire safety positions do not understand the physical properties of the fi re extinguishing systems in place, which are installed to put out fires once started. The gases contained in cylinders - the chemicals that put out the fire once the system has been activated – are also misunderstood. This article aims to close gaps in the knowledge about fire safety for those unaware about fixed fire extinguishing systems and to share innovative methods for inspection and continuous monitoring of these systems, which even the most experienced may not yet know.

Typically, aluminum does not burn but its melts at very high temperatures. The heat is conducted away so the temperature will rapidly increase elsewhere in the vicinity. The need for comprehensive fire safety measures, specifically the fixed fire extinguishing systems in Aluminum production and fabrication, in cast houses, foundries, recycling and reclamation plants. The super high temperatures, at which aluminum is handled especially at molten points, sow casting and charging. Fine aluminum particles are particularly prone to ignition.

Fixed gaseous extinguishing systems

These gases leak. It is not a widely promoted fact in the fi re safety industry, except by some experts, and by those who understand the physics behind pressurised gases. If the agent leaks, they may be insufficient gas to suppress a fire in the event they are activated. If there is no agent, the fire will continue to burn and may lead to catastrophe by loss of life, and certain business downtime. They are active and dynamic systems, which require ultrasonic monitoring and measuring equipment for constant monitoring to ensure safety of life, and increase resilience and business continuity. Thus, saving time and cost long-term by improved monitoring.

Constant Monitoring of Systems:

Aluminum plants are expensive to build and maintain. It generates significant heat. The value of them is very high but the value of their inability to sustain business continuity is likely to be higher than their physical assets. And yet Insurers are asked to underwrite them and the fire industry to deliver their protection at the cheapest price. Who today would consider installing an alarm system without monitoring its overall daily status - not only on its actuation - and then integrate the alarm system into the building management system, with central monitoring being essential? Who would build plant fitted with power generating auxiliary machinery, without installing emergency power systems or monitoring their condition states? These are basic engineering principles of building redundancy into one’s systems and subsequently monitoring one’s systems. There are clear advantages for the plant and insurers.

Conclusion:

Coltraco Ultrasonics is a British designer and manufacturer of ultrasonic solutions for improving safety. Coltraco aims to be the lead technical authority in the constant monitoring of liquefied and non-liquefied gaseous extinguishing systems contents during the life of the system once it is installed and commissioned. Coltraco achieve this through 30 years’ experience since inventing the first handheld ultrasonic liquid level indicator Portalevel® - today available in nine models including soon an Intrinsically Safe ATEX Zone 1 variant. Coltraco’s ability to establish the liquid contents of liquefied clean agents – through UL & ABS approved Portalevel™ MAX has led to the research and development into the innovative monitoring system Permalevel™ Multiplex. Once the liquid level is identified, Coltraco can establish the agent’s weight and mass – through Portasteele™ Calculator (the world’s first product capable of this). These Safesite® solutions enable the safety managers to pinpoint exactly when and if a leak in agent occurs – enabling rapid rectification of the issue by organising a refill of agent. Such effective, easy to use, accurate and reliable solutions can improve the facility’s fire safety measures.

Keywords: ultrasonic liquid level indicator, liquid level sensor, ultrasonic level indicator, novec 1230 fire suppressing system, CO2 & CO2 marine systems, liquid gas level indicator, ultrasonic leak detector, ultrasonic gas leak detector, liquid level to mass conversion calculator, continuous gas weight monitoring system

Case Study: Power Station Chooses 24/7 Fire System Monitoring – Permalevel® SINGLE POINT

A leading UK Gas-Fired Power Station has chosen to improve their fire safety. Coltraco’s Director of Sales and R&D Manager successfully installed the Permalevel® SINGLE POINT 24/7 fire system monitoring system.

Market Sector:

Gas-Fired Power

Application:

Fixed FM-200® liquefied gaseous fire suppression system

Traditional method:

Annual inspection using handheld tools or weighing

Innovative solution:

24/7 continuous monitoring systems

Product Overview:

The Permalevel® Single Point provides constant contents verification of fixed fire suppression systems, essential at a safety critical site such as a power station. At this power station, the Permalevel® Single point was installed on 2 x 60KG and 180KG FM-200® cylinders. Permalevel TM Single Point was originally developed for the UK Atomic Energy Sector and has now been in service for over 12 years as fixed 24/7-fire suppressant monitoring system. It is designed for up to 5 individual fire suppression cylinder-monitoring applications.

The PermalevelTM Single Point has different alarm capabilities to the Permalevel Multiplex and benefits from being a simpler system that operates on lesser cylinders. Permalevel Single Point provides truly continuous and non-invasive monitoring using ultrasonic technology. Immediate notifications are sounded in a variety of formats when there is a drop in the level of liquid suppression agent in the cylinder. The system is a simple and effective way to ensure the level within a container is continuously and constantly verified in real time therefore guaranteeing safety in case of fire.

Keywords: ultrasonic liquid level indicator, liquid level sensor, ultrasonic level indicator, novec 1230 fire suppressing system, CO2 & CO2 marine systems, liquid gas level indicator, ultrasonic leak detector, ultrasonic gas leak detector, ultrasonic monitoring and measuring equipment, liquid level tester

Permalevel™ Constant Monitoring of Gaseous Extinguishing System

Our new 24/7 constant monitoring system installation in Asia, Permalevel™ Multiplex. We generate global-leading science; design and engineering to constantly monitor the contents high pressure liquefied gaseous systems at mission critical infrastructure against the risk of accidental discharge or leakage. So that when the design concentration is requited, customers can be certain they have the system contents to deliver it.

Features of Permalevel Multiplex

Multiple Alarm Options: 

A Master Alarm output. The multiplex has an RS232/485 output allowing communication with a central monitoring system or PC.

Status of Each Channel Shown By LEDs: 

A set of green and red LED lights indicates the status of each cylinder.

Text/ Email Alerts: 

This system of ultrasonic liquid level indicator Provide an instantaneous and convenient form of data communication.

Uninterruptable Power Supply: 

Backup system provides power in the event of mains power failure.

Datalogging Ability: 

The software keeps logs of the system activity, errors and alarm trigger on a monthly basis.

Strong Magnets: 

Hold the sensors in place with additional space for adhesive or a strap to ensure sensors are not accidentally removed.

Sensors:

Each monitoring point has its own dedicated sensor, which is connected to the cylinder it is monitoring.

Remote Real-Time Monitoring Screen: 

Displays information about the current status of the cylinders, and when last contact was made.

Compatible With Multiple Cylinder Types: 

Each channel can be individually tuned; therefore each cylinder can be different from the last in size, weight, pressure and agent type.

Advantages of Permalevel Multiplex

  • Guaranteed Systems Operations:

No accidental discharge from cylinders minimises risk of fire to ensure business continuity 24/7 remote access to system status – enables the operator to monitor each cylinder point in real time.

  • Bespoke And Reliable Software: 

Designed to be user friendly so that the on-site maintenance team can quickly identify and rectify any issues.

  • Monitors A Wide Range Of Verifiable Agents:

For example, FM 200 fire suppression system, NOVEC 1230, CO2, Halon 1301, FE-13TM , FE-25TM , NAF S 125TM , NAF S 227TM , NAF-S-IIITM and CEA-410

  • Highly Accurate:

Our sensors are proven to measure the liquid level accurate to +/- 1.5mm

  • Immediate Notifications In A Variety Of Formats:

The system has a standard relay that triggers an alarm the minute the liquid level drops below the required level. If the alarm is triggered, the on-site maintenance team can quickly respond to the threat this poses.

  • Non-Invasive:

Uses ultrasonic technology, which does not require physical insertion into the cylinder and therefore does not weaken the structural integrity of the cylinder.

  • Retrofitting available:

To existing systems, which eliminate downtime, as the system doesn’t have to be disconnected/deactivated.

Keywords: ultrasonic liquid level indicator, liquid level sensor, ultrasonic level indicator, novec 1230 fire suppressing system, CO2 & CO2 marine systems, liquid gas level indicator, ultrasonic leak detector, ultrasonic gas leak detector, ultrasonic monitoring and measuring equipment, liquid level tester

Coltraco Recognises and Values the Feedback from Customer

We are pleased to share feedback from one of our customers:

“For the years I have worked with Gaseous Suppression systems, I have found it like many others. It is a frustration when thousands of dollars is spent on the installation of these systems, but the service Technician has a daunting task trying to determine weights and or liquid levels due to the lack of foresight of those installing the system to provide a safe means of gathering this required information.

This device (the Portalevel® MAX), appears to provide a fast and efficient way of carrying out this task preventing the possibility of an unsafe act or worse still an incorrect or false listing of weights and measures.”

What is the unit? 
The Portalevel® MAX ultrasonic liquid level indicator that is:

  • Better:

Most accurate unit on the market, +/- 1.5mm

  • Faster:

Combined with the MAX, the Portasteele® CALCULATOR is an advanced app, that converts the liquid level of C02, NOVEC™ 1230 and FM-200® into the agent weight/mass

  • Cheaper:

Testing safely and quickly (just 30 seconds per cylinder).

Overview of the product:

The Portalevel Max is an ultrasonic liquid level tester, designed to inspect cylinders in 30 seconds. Compared manually, weighing fire suppression cylinders, the Portalevel Max save you time, minimizes risk and labour. The ease to use, UL approved handheld unit allows you to test cylinders in site and accepted by the regulations of an alternative method.

Package Content:

  • Dry Sensor:

A standard sensor for all land based Portalevel units. The metal applicator is connected to the unit via 1 meter of ax cable and a BNC connector.

  • Portatherm:

An infrared thermometer comes as standard. Designed with portability in-mind, this device is intended for monitoring cylinders in warm climates.

  • Main Unit:

The main unit is protected an IP65 Enclosure and weighs just 500 grams. It has a LCD Numeric Display with LED Bar Graph and 4 touch button controls.

  • Ultrasonic Gel:

Ultrasonic Gel is a brilliant agent for increasing the surface contact of the Sensor. Coltraco sensors have also been designed to work with water.

  • Extension Rod (Optional):

The Multi-Banked Extension rod comes as standard with the all Portalevel® MAX Marinemodels. It is designed for testing the rows of CO2 cylinders 3-4 deep.

Keywords: ultrasonic liquid level indicator, liquid level sensor, ultrasonic level indicator, novec 1230 fire suppressing system, CO2 & CO2 marine systems, liquid gas level indicator, ultrasonic leak detector, ultrasonic gas leak detector, ultrasonic monitoring and measuring equipment, liquid level tester

Feedback – Portalevel® Mini Cuts Cost for USA Company

We are delighted and grateful for the feedback we have received this week from one our USA customers about their Portalevel® MINI:
“We are satisfied with the equipment and it’s operation, it has been well received by the techs and has cut costs for us and our customers.”

Coltraco’s Portalevel Mini:

The 7th Generation of Portalevel Range has been the single most successful model in Coltraco Ultrasonic’s history with many thousands of units supplied across the world. Through the constant evolution and refinement of our offering in regards to ultrasonic liquid level sensor, the Portalevel Mini was created to offer customers an even more compact and versatile unit to further enhance the ease with which fire suppressing systems can be tested. Offering totally hands free operation with the unit hanging around the operators’ neck, both hands are free to work with the trusted reliability offered by the 7th Generation.

Technical Specifications:

  • Dimensions:
  • Height: 98 mm (3.86 inches)
  • Width: 158 mm (6.22 inches)
  • Depth: 45.5 mm (1.80 inches)
  • Weight: 420 grams (14.82 ounces)
  • Accuracy:
  • +/-1.5mm (1/8 inch)
  • Verifiable Agents:
  • CO2, H20, FM-200™, NOVEC™1230, old Halons such as 1301 and 1211, FE-13™, FE-25™, FE-36™, HFC-225 & 2271
  • Sensor:
  • TX/RX Dry Sensor
  • 14 mm diameter head:
  • Contained within a magnetized sensor applicator;
  • Connected by BNC connectors to 1 m length co-ax cable.
  • Display:
  • LCD Numeric Digital Display with LED Bar Graph
  • Operating Temperature:
  • 20°C to +70°C (68°F to 158°F)
  • Relative Humidity:
  • 5 % - 95 %
  • Certificates:
  • Classification Society Approved- RINA
  • CE
  • ISO 19011 Registered
  • Classification:
  • IP Rating 65
  • NATO Stock Number: 6680-99-275-5292
    • Warranty:
    • Main Unit:

3 Years Warranty

    • Sensor:

1 Year Warranty

  • Lifetime Customer Support
  • Package Contents:
  • 1 Portalevel® Mini unit
  • 1 Wet Sensor
  • 1 20 mm Extension Rod
  • Ultrasonic Gel
  • 1 Hard Wearing Carrying Case
  • Calibration certificate

Keywords: ultrasonic liquid level indicator, liquid level sensor, ultrasonic level indicator, novec 1230 fire suppressing system, CO2 & CO2 marine systems, liquid gas level indicator, ultrasonic leak detector, ultrasonic gas leak detector, ultrasonic monitoring and measuring equipment, liquid level tester

Protect Against The Risk of Fire At Your Power Generating Facilities

Power generating facilities are safety critical and extremely high value assets. As a result, there is a great focus on business continuity due to the pressures and costs incurred due to accidents, faults, fires, or other temporary outage disruption.

The gaseous fire suppression systems that protect your infrastructure, can leak which can put your asset at risk. Choose smart Safesite® solution to protect your team, asset and infrastructure.  

Power Plants

Fire hazards are abundant in power plants. With lube oil, and combustible materials throughout plants, a small spark can grow into a large fire.

Chose smart solutions to protect against fire risk.

CUSTOMER: Leading UK Gas-Fired Power Station
INDUSTRY: Power Generation
PRODUCT: Permalevel® Single Point
PROBLEM: Risk of 2 x 60KG and 180KG FM-200®  fire suppression system contents leaking
SOLUTION: 24/7 Constant contents verification to ensure safety critical site is protected.

Wind Turbines

Fire hazards are abundant in wind turbines. 10-30% of all loss-of-power-generation incidents in wind power plants are due to fire.
Protect your wind turbines from the risk of fire.
CUSTOMER: Vestas
INDUSTRY: Wind Power
PRODUCT: Portalevel® MAX
PROBLEM: Risk of wind turbine fire suppression system (FSS) contents leaking
SOLUTION: Handheld ultrasonic liquid level indicator to check contents of FSS.

Keywords:Ultrasonic Liquid Level Indicator, Wind, Nuclear, Power, Energy, Power Generation, Assets, Fire Suppression Systems, FM-200®

Case Study: Food Processing Factory, Slovakia Chooses Portalevel® MAX Industrial

A leading food processing factory in Slovakia chose the Portalevel® MAX Industrial to save time and money.

PROBLEM:

  • They were faced with a problem in production of apple puree, to be used in baby food and juice products.
  • The apple puree is stored in large steel tanks, at 4.5metre in height.
  • However, the factory had no way to check the liquid level of apple puree inside the large tanks, which was affecting their efficiency.

Portalevel Max Industrial:
This liquid level indicator non-invasively verifies the contents of cylinders and tanks holding liquids, suitable for a range of industrial purposes e.g. food processing, pharmaceutical, aerospace manufacturing and transformers.

  • Three years warranty
  • Lifetime Support
  • Calibration & Training Certificates Available
  • Ultrasonic Technology – No Radiation. Non-Invasive
  • 5 tried and tested applications
  • 2 sensors for double the technology capability
  • Enjoy our customer Care Commitment

INNOVATIVE SOLUTION:

  • Mr Lubomir Ernst, our Central & Eastern European Regional Director, to inspect the tanks, conducted a site visit.
  • The Portalevel® MAX INDUSTRIAL quickly and accurately gauged the liquid level of apple puree within the tanks.

Using the Portalevel® MAX Industrial provides the staff a means to accurately and non-invasively monitor the apple puree. The implementation of the Portalevel® MAX INDUSTRIAL will allow the plant to run more efficiently, saving them time and money.

Keywords: ultrasonic liquid level indicator, ultrasonic level indicator, FM 200 Fire Suppression System, Novec 1230 gas suppression system, Liquid Gas Level Indicator, Ultrasonic Leak Detector, Ultrasonic Monitoring and Measuring Equipment

Introduction To Our Fire Safety Distributor – Spain

Our Spanish customers benefit from local expertise and support throughout the country. This month we celebrate working with Firescon Fire Safety Consultants S.L., who is Engineering and consulting firm based in Madrid.
Ivan Arranz, General Director Bch. Engineer & M. D. on Fire Safety Engineering Specialist on Gaseous Based Fire Suppression Systems for Firescon says the following:  “We do a number of services divided into 3 main areas: 

  • Engineering (Projects, designs, calculations, peer review, etc.) 
  • Auditing (Inspection and testing of systems and equipment; reviews and evaluations of facilities by law and/or according to reliability and effectiveness)
  • Consulting (Code consulting, expert-base training, independent advice on many issues, etc.)

Our main values and differentiation are independence, experience and knowledge (apart from maintaining high ethical and honesty within the sector). Our technicians and associates are actual experts in a particular area within the whole discipline of Fire Protection Engineering.

“As an independent fire engineering consultancy firm, we do not involve in the supply of extinguishing systems or agents. It is rare that we take advantage of products. Exceptionally, we only market some products, those of our greatest confidence, due to their trajectory and technical quality, innovation and contribution to the Fire Protection market needs, which we know well enough. It is why some time ago we became the Coltraco Ultrasonic’s representative for the Fire Protection market in Spain.

“We trust that our partnership with Coltraco helps to increase the quality of services provided within the Fire Market in our country. In this way, we also try to increase the level of availability and reliability guarantees of the fire suppression systems, for a better protection of high value assets, which these systems are intended to.”

Clare Hunter, Head of Marketing & Communications, Coltraco Ultrasonics: “I have known Firescon since 2014 and in the last two years have welcomed them as our distributor for the fire safety market in Spain. It is a pleasure to work with Ivan and Sonia and develop the understanding of fire suppression systems servicing in Spain together.”

Keywords:ultrasonic liquid level indicator, ultrasonic level indicator, FM 200 Fire Suppression System, Novec 1230 gas suppression system, Liquid Gas Level Indicator, Ultrasonic Leak Detector, Ultrasonic Monitoring and Measuring Equipment

The Portasonic® 2.FL0 Meter is Faster, Better & Cheaper

The Portasonic® 2.FL0 is the second generation of Coltraco’s ultrasonic flow meter that is used to measure flow rates of clean liquid in pipes. The Portasonic® 2.FL0 utilizes two transducers, one that acts as an ultrasonic transmitter and the other as a receiver. The software calculates the time it takes for the ultrasonic pulse to pass from the transmitter to the receiver, which is dependent on the liquid flow rate.

Coltraco Portasonic® 2.FL0

Portasonic 2.FL0 is the second-generation ultrasonic flow meter for accurate flow measurement from outside a pipe. The 2018 model received an upgrade from the original Portasonic in terms of aesthetics, accurate and ease of use.

  • It is a highly competitive ultrasonic transit time flow meter: able to accurately, reliable and quality identify the rate of flow in pipework and clear any obstructions.
  • The benefit of this is that the device is non-invasive with clamp-on external sensors: stopping the difficulties of cutting sections of pipe, risking pressure drop or contamination.
  • For testing from 15mm to 6000mm in diameter containing non-aerated fluids such as water/ glycol or oils in full pipes made of common metal and plastic material.

Faster:

Non-invasive flow measurement, stores up to 2000 lines of data with easy export to computer.

Better:

Portasonic 2.FL0 has long term reliability and battery life, light weight and compact.

Cheaper:

Ensure accuracy first time with device calibration in an ISO 17025 certified lab with traceable results, accuracy of +/- 1% of reading at rates > 0.2 m/s.

Keywords: Flow meter, ultrasonic flow meter, ultrasonic monitoring and measuring equipment

Time to Act – Identify CO2 Leakage.

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There is a need to identify CO2 leakage from a shipʼs fixed CO2 liquefied gaseous fire suppression system.
Evidence in MAIBʼs Accident Report published in Sept. 2018 which reported CO2 accidental discharge on the ro-ro vessels Eddystone (June 2016) and Red Eagle (July 2017). Other similar incidents include:

  • July 2017: Red Eagle accidental CO2 discharge
  • June 2016: Eddystone accidental CO2 discharge
  • August 2011: Accidental discharge of CO2 onboard SD Nimble, serious injury to a shore-based service engineer
  • May 2010: Uncontrolled release of CO2 onboard Marsol Pride
  • November 2008: At least 20 people died in an accident on K-152 Nerpa, a Russian Akula II class nuclear submarine, when a Halon-based fire extinguishing system was activated by mistake during sea trials
  • September 2004: Crewmember on a Hong Kong registered ship accidentally triggered the fixed CO2 system while preparing for a routine inspection. Attempts to fix situation led to death of four officers

Here are the basics of CO2 you should know:

  • Shipsʼ gaseous extinguishing system commonly comprises between 50 – 600 cylinders each containing 45 KG CO2 under 50 bar pressure
  • CO2 and marine CO2 systems are designed with reserve CO2 cylinders, which assumes that there will be a loss of contents due to pressurization
  • CO2 Concentration required to put out a fire = 20%
  • Above 10% concentration, causes unconsciousness in humans and at 17%and above, survival time is less than 60 seconds
  • Anecdotal evidence from marine servicing companies suggest that 20% of shipsʼ CO2 cylinders have partially leaked their contents at some point in their lifetime (or intentionally under-filled i.e. anecdotes from a Chinese marine servicing company suggests that 80% of cylinders on a Chinese vessel are intentionally under-filled)
  • September 2018 report from MAIB provides detailed description about the CO2 accidental discharge that occurred
  • A ship sails alone at sea and is its own Fire Rescue Service (FRS)

Conclusively, CO2 Systems do leak and when they do, it is dangerous.
A call for more regular and better checking:

  • We propose more regular inspections of contents
  • Method supported by: IMO SOLAS Fire Safety Systems (FSS) Code

• Chapter 2.1.1.3 – Means shall be provided for the crew to safely check the quantity of the fire-extinguishing medium in the containers

  • One method that is non-invasive, accurate and quick is an ultrasonic liquid level indicator which can be used 30 seconds per cylinder
  • Liquid level conversion to weight is possible – accurate to 1%

Conclusively, lets create a genuine safety culture at sea – we need contents checking to be a legitimate method, combined with enclosed CO2 space entry.

Oxygen and Gas Monitors for Enclosed Spaces:

  • CO2 contents checking with liquid level indicators stand in equal importance to seafarers dying in enclosed spaces
  • We need a holistic approach – contents is connected directly to the need for those inspecting the FSS to carry gas monitors to avoid totally avoidable deaths caused enclosed space entry
  • For example in cases the CO2 has leaked mentioned before

Enforcing the wearing of gas monitors for the protection of mariners and surveyors to ensure they do not die from inspections, is a cheap, simple and quick solution that some of the leading fleets already implement.

Keywords: Portalevel Max 8th, Ultrasonic Liquid Level Indicator, Ultrasonic Level Indicator, CO2 Fire Suppression System, Liquid Gas Level Indicator, Ultrasonic Gas Leak Detector, Liquid Level Sensor, Ultrasonic Monitoring and Measuring Equipment

The Danger of CO2 Loss

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The danger of CO2 loss is highlighted by Carl Stephen Patrick Hunter, CEO of Coltraco Ultrasonics who has 30 years’ experience in the shipping and offshore industry: “We estimate that 20% of ships are sailing with a loss of CO2, due to high pressurisation leakage or accidental discharge. This inevitably means that the design concentration of the CO2 will be insufficient to control fire.”
Here are the key reasons why investing in effective, integrated fire protection systems, and in training the crew to inspect these systems is worthwhile:

  • Once CO2 fire suppression systems are installed, it is mandatory to test the systems at least once a year by a certified marine servicing company
  • What is less known is that the regulations also demand that the vessels must have “means shall be provided for the crew to safely check the quantity of the fire extinguishing medium in the containers” in between regulatory checks – IMO SOLAS FSS 2.1.1.3
  • The reason for this is that CO2 is stored under high pressure. This means the agent can leak out the cylinder or accidentally discharge. If it leaks there may be insufficient agent to put out a fire event (scientifically speaking this means “below their design concentration”). So it is important to test the cylinders to ascertain the correct fill of CO2.
  • Traditionally this has been ascertained by manual weighing which requires the system to be switched off, and thus not protecting the ship for the duration of inspection, then each cylinder has to be dismantled from the manifold, requiring two people to carry the cylinder (45KG CO2 fill usually) onto a weigh scale then returned and recoupled etc which can 15 minutes.
  • Considering the average ship may have 600 cylinders, and a ship may only be in port for 4 hours, the need for speed is paramount to conduct rigorous inspection of each cylinder.
  • Today you can use portable ultrasonic liquid level indicators, Portalevel® MAX, to check the fill level of agent takes one person and just 30 seconds. If weight is still the preferred result, a calculator can convert the level to weight in 30 seconds by an intuitive tablet app, the Portasteele® CALCULATOR.

Keywords: Portalevel Max 8th, Liquid Level Indicator, Ultrasonic Level Sensor, CO2 Fire Suppression System, Liquid Gas Level Indicator, Ultrasonic Leak Detector, Liquid Level Sensor, Ultrasonic Monitoring and Measuring Equipment

Obtain Weight of Cylinders in 30 Seconds

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Identify the weight of cylinder contents by converting the liquid level height (taken by a Portalevel®) using the award winning Calculator application, the Portasteele® CALCULATOR.

SAVE Money, Risk and Time with the SHE Awards Fire Innovation of the Year 2018.

  1. Save Money
    Add value to servicing and enhance safety management system thanks to the accurate and reliable datalogging capability which enables the results to be recorded, downloaded and emailed as a CSV file
  2. Save Risk
    Traditional method of manually weighing fire suppression system cylinders is no longer necessary, by using Portalevel®to find the level height and this app to convert into the fill weight
  3. Save Time
    Together with Portalevel® this app on the 7” rugged tablet enables a competent user to test a cylinder to identify contents loss in under 60 seconds

LEARN Three Core Benefits:

MAKE FIRE SYSTEM SERVICING EASIER, FASTER AND SAFER

  1. FIRST IN THE WORLD - The Portasteele® CALCULATOR is the first in the world to provide agent weight readings without physically weighing the fire suppression cylinders to comply with fire safety regulations.
  2. HIGHLY ACCURATE - It takes into account the dimensions of practically any cylinder, the type of agent being measured and the ambient temperature therefore providing accurate results in a variety of conditions
  3. SAVE COST OF MAN HOURS - Decreasing the time to regularly and effectively test cylinder agent weights, when paired with a liquid level indicator, Portasteele® CALCULATOR will reduce the inconvenience and costly man hours required for testing.

WATCH How to Use The Portasteele® CALCULATOR

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  1. Input your cylinder details:
    Agent, Height, Circumference, Actual Liquid Level (taken with a Portalevel® unit), Temperature, Dome Height, Printed Fill Weight
  2. Touch "Calculate" and instantly see the weight
  3. Optional: save your results and record in a spreadsheet which can be easily shared by email.
    SEE the Portasteele® CALCULATOR: https://coltraco.com/portasteele/

KEYWORDS: Portasteele® CALCULATOR, cylinder weight, fire suppression systems, liquid level, ultrasonic liquid level indicator

Two Years On from Grenfell – March 2019

From-Grenfell

Approved Document B is the core Fire safety document underpinning our industry. Its full name is Approved Document B: Fire safety Volume 1 – Dwellinghouses 2006 edition incorporating 2007, 2010 and 2013 amendments Volume 2 – Buildings other than dwellinghouses 2006 edition incorporating 2007, 2010, 2013 and November 2018 amendments.

It accepts that Government is at the heart of Fire Safety in our country. Its arm of authority are the Fire Rescue Services (FRS) within which lies each Fire Engineering division and upon which it relies for oversight. But have we understood its implications?

To provide oversight FRS Fire Engineering divisions need the capacity and resource to understand the Certification process which industry works within and the Approvals which are its outcomes. We know that Grenfell proved its inadequacies.

Any building is the product of two branches: the construction and fire industries. Each see each other in unequal terms. Economically this has logic, with the former considerably outweighing the latter. But both are actually united by a statutory obligation to deliver a safe building. The role of Government is to ensure that buildings are safe.

Currently the Minister of Fire is often more occupied with the responsibility for the public service of the FRS than the private one of the fire industry. The fire industry though is responsible for 96% of all expenditure in UK fire, and naturally a focus of it is to ensure that its products, systems and services can be expeditiously and efficiently approved through the certification process.

The construction industry has its focus too. Which is to take advantage of new construction materials and processes which enable it to build better. It too wants its materials and processes to become approved as expeditiously and efficiently as possible.

The fire safety certifications process is in the hands of the private sector, comprising competing certification organisations and largely managed by personnel from the UK fire sector (UKFS). Certainty as to the primacy of British Standards has become diluted by attention being placed on European Standards. It is the role of the FRS Fire Engineering Groups to have oversight as to their implementation. Indeed, London Fire Brigade is a statutory consultee as part of the Building Regulations process and the enforcing authority for the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order in London, for instance, on behalf of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

Government believes in free market mechanisms to deliver efficient overcomes. But the only genuinely free markets that exist in the UK economy are illegal ones. All others have to be lawful. Proponents of the free market seek to exclude Government from involvement with it and Adam Smith is often quoted as justification that the public interest is best served by private individuals acting in their self-interest will synonymously benefit the public good. This has always been taken to triumph “unfettered” and thereby “un-regulated” free markets.

Free market thinkers enthusiastically quote Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations as justification, forgetting that this produced the Slave Trade 200 years ago and FTSE 100 CEO’s earning 178 times the average salary of their employees today. Adam Smith also wrote The Theory of Moral Sentiments which attributed the mediation of the unfettered economic behaviour to social and cultural values, norms, traditions and practices as the “hidden hand” of Government to mitigate the worst excesses of free markets. This is why Government exists and why Approved Document B requires the fullest engagement of it in legislative terms and the “arms” of Government, such as FRS Fire Engineering Groups to ensure that the private sector acts in its best moral aspect.

Are we “better” today than we were two years ago?

We have had public enquiries, consultations, expert panels, questions in Parliament and intense media scrutiny. We have seen genuine human tragedy. We have reeled from the consequences of it. And rightly so. For some of my colleagues in the UKFS their lifetime’s work has been called into question.

Who amongst us in our industry know our Fire Engineering Group in our FRS? Few amongst us have sat with the Minister to make our industry “better”. Fewer still know the names of the Parliamentarians who populate the All-Party Parliamentary Group Fire Rescue Safety. Only a handful of us know the names of more than two Chief Executives of our many fire industry Associations or the Editors of our fire safety publications. Let us change that. We can so easily. We are British and whilst we have many values one of them is the simple courtesy that creates the environment for our mutual improvement.

Our civil service is the “jewel in our Crown”. But it can only do so much if it has insufficient expertise to help Ministers and for that it needs greater “mass” to cover the increasingly-congested ground our ever more complex and intense world demands of it. London Fire Brigade’s Fire Engineering Group conducted 10,000 inspections and 16,000 audits a couple of years ago. To its great credit. But it and its counterparts across our country needs to do more. It too then needs to enlarge its “mass” so that it can.

Above all how many of us can “speak” with Government? Too many times Ministers and civil servants stand before us asking, “How can I help you?” Why are there always 2-3 from our industry in the room who respond to that with, “The trouble with you Minister, is you know nothing about business”. All the Minister asked was how to help us. Let the silent and courteous majority amongst our industry stand up the next time, thank the Minister for asking and ask, “This is our President Kennedy moment after Grenfell, Minister. How can we help you to make our society safer and better?”

One definition of a business is that it is “the sum of the individuals within it”. Is that not also a definition of our “one nation” too and does it not implicitly direct us to be mindful of the competing pressures that only together we can confront and overcome?

If we do not adjust our culture, learn to speak with each other in our industry, with Government and the arms of Government, our construction industry counterparts and for them to speak with us as equal partners, we will see another Grenfell or its equivalent at a mission-critical infrastructure such as a defence facility, power station or data centre. Let us ensure that it does not. Let us become the best in the next phase of our fine nation’s history and inspire the world as the leaders in fire safety engineering that we are capable of being.

KEYWORDS: Grenfell, Fire, UK Government, Fire Engineering, Parliament

5 Core Benefits of the Portagauge® 3 Ultrasonic Thickness Gauge

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Making corrosion testing easier, faster and cheaper with the Portagauge® 3. The Portagauge® 3 is the low cost single echo thickness gauge.

5 Core Benefits of the Portagauge® 3:

  1. Quick testing allows the user to test a large range of metals within a short period of time. Simple enough for any operator, with quick training for reliable and accurate testing.
  2. Ideal for a wide range of industrial applications: fire cylinders, ship hulls, pipework, storage tanks. Ability to work on heavily corroded metal.
  3. The simplicity of Portagauge® 3 means reliable results are achieved at the lowest cost to our customers. The quality units are built to ensure they meet high standards.
  4. Highly accurate units – measurements in steps of 0.1mm from 1.5mm – 99.9mm.
  5. Portable unit, lightweight, compact and with long-term reliability.

WATCH how to use the Portagauge® 3, just 3 simple steps:

  1. Connect the sensors to the unit (red to red and black to black)
  2. Press the “On” button on the Portagauge® 3 unit.
  3. Place the sensor firmly on the metal surface that you are testing and the Portagauge® will instantly tell you a measurement of the metal thickness in mm.

SEE the Portagauge® 3 here: https://coltraco.com/portagauge3/

KEYWORDS: Thickness Gauge, Ultrasonic, Portagauge® 3, Corrosion

Continued Support Across Europe After Brexit

EU-partners

Coltraco Ultrasonics will continue to support you across Europe, regardless of the outcome
of Brexit. Ships won't stop sailing at sea, and we won't stop providing your safety. We have
a network of distributors, agents and partners in Europe, ready to support you with any requirements you have.

  • Our European customers may be assured of our complete dedication and support
  • Our principal aim is to be “better, faster, cheaper” to be at the forefront of our marine and fire safety technologies
  • Working with our European strategic partners, service stations and distributors to maintain our first-class delivery, technical support and training services

Need support with product interest or enquiry? Claim your free global support here: http://www.coltraco.com/contact-us/

Distributor Spotlight

Spain - Fire Safety Distributor
Our Spanish customers benefit from local expertise and support throughout the country
from Firescon, Fire Safety Consultants.

Firescon

Italy - Fire Safety Distributor
Our Italian customers receive local support and knowledge from Unidet, our distributor
based in Milan: Unidet Anticendi SRL.

italy

See the distributor page here: http://www.coltraco.com/support/distributors/

Watch this VIDEO of our CEO talking about why we are confident that our international relationships with yourselves will continue to flourish in 2019. #exportingisGREAT

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Watch this VIDEO of our CEO on Sky News, being interviewed by Adam Boulton, on All Out Politics promoting export after EU Exit:

carl-stephen

Below is a statement from Carl Stephen Patrick Hunter, CEO of Coltraco Ultrasonics:

  • “Parliament voted overwhelmingly to implement the results of our referendum to leave the EU
  • The referendum result means leaving the single market, customs union, the ECJ and all the institutions of the EU
  • Parliament voted overwhelmingly to trigger Article 50 saying that we will be leaving on 29 March 2019
  • Government policy recognises deep and common security and trading interests with the EU
  • And is mindful of the concerns of those in the UK who are concerned about leaving the EU
  • Negotiating our Future Agreement with the EU can only begin when we leave the EU during the Implementation Phase of the Withdrawal Agreement
  • That the UK’s Global Britain strategy is to uphold the rules based order whilst using EU Exit to re-balance its USA, EU, Commonwealth and key allied rest of the world nations relationships such as Japan
  • That one of the aspects of these is to maintain high regulatory standards in the UK on EU Exit whilst implementing its independent trade policy within the rules-based international order institutions such as the WTO
  • Rejecting media reports that government “lacks bandwidth outside EU Exit” and that every effort will be made to secure the UK’s orderly exit from the EU and to “roll-over” exiting EU free trade agreements”

Have any questions or keen to know more about how we can support you? Get in touch with us by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call +44 2076 298 47.

KEYWORDS: Customer Support, Brexit, Europe, EU Exit, Customer Care

Coltraco Ultrasonics Win The Queen’s Award For Enterprise: International Trade 2019

Fire-extinguisher-blog

We are proud to announce that we are the winners of the prestigious Queen’s Award for International Trade, for Outstanding Continuous Growth in overseas sales over the last six years.

We would like to thank all those who judged us worthy of such an award, and to our CEO, our team, our suppliers and of course customers who have helped us achieve this over the last 6 years.

We see this as a culmination of our vision:

  • To create a happy, dynamic environment for our people, so as to create a sustainable and profitable one,
  • With integrity at our core throughout our scientific research and commercial operations,
  • And innovation driving excellence in our technology and our business methods.

Our mission is to deliver safety for life, assets and infrastructure on land and at sea through our concepts called Safesite® and Safeship®: developing a range of mutually supporting products, systems, software and through-life customer service. Our aim is to become an “ideas factory” in ultrasonics, developing and growing out from our current expertise in liquid level indication, seal integrity and areas of condition monitoring, coming from our background in fire safety and watertight/compartment integrity.

We export 89% of our output to 109 countries, support our customers through our global network of strategic partners and ODA service stations, and digital presence. 

We understand the opportunities of international trade and have spent 25 years travelling to 30+ countries annually across a variety of advanced and emerging markets in Asia, the Middle East, Europe, North America, Africa and South America. 40% of our exports go to Asia and the USA is our lead national market. 

We know the challenges of working internationally, which is why we value our people so highly. We recruit some of the UK’s best young talent through our Student Engagement Programme. We also provide second/third career opportunities for those later in life wishing to transition into a role offering the chance for fulfilment, through upskilling and independence.

Committed to innovation, we are proud to design and manufacture in Britain. We are honoured to be partners with the GREAT campaign and for our CEO to be a Department for International Trade Export Champion, Expert Panel Member at the Department for International Development , member of the UK-USA SME Dialogue and a Decision-Making Panel member of the Bank of England. We encourage all other businesses to export – there is a world of opportunity.

Do get in touch: www.coltraco.com.  
Thank you.

Why Compartmentation Testing Is Overlooked and Undervalued in Fire Safety - But is its Key

What is compartmentation? Very briefly, it is related to fire stopping in walls and floors, to reduce the spread of fire. Compartmentation often relates to room integrity testing to ensure that a room is sufficiently sealed, to hold in the gaseous extinguishing agent once its been actuated. Liquefied Gaseous systems are typically made up of CO2, FM200™ or Novec™ 1230, and non-liquefied systems are typically Inergen™ or Nitrogen. Leak sites in the room could mean that the comparted area may not withhold the fire or gaseous extinguishing agent, which has been specifically designed for the space (called design concentration).

The likelihood of the gaseous system effectively extinguishing the fire gets lower and lower as the protected area becomes larger than the size that the extinguishing system was designed for.

This is not a game of chance. The lives of people depend upon it. Enough is enough. The technology exists right now to support Door Fan Testing in providing a holistic and thorough integrity test of critical infrastructure. It is called Portascanner™ 520.

What is the opinion of leading researchers on compartmentation?

Leading researchers and scientists agree that the size of the compartments and their relation to fire resistance is key. As well as size, issues in the quality of compartmentation walls can come from maintenance, minor works and refurbishments. Contractors carrying out such tasks can occasionally destroy the compartmentation integrity of the wall, floor or ceilings if they were unaware that the area is a comparted space. This is emphasised in a review by the BRE (Building Research Establishment) report from 2015, stating that: “The biggest issue with fire protection in concealed spaces is that of quality of construction.  Poor workmanship, with inappropriate materials, resulting in the inadequate protection of concealed spaces, are the main reasons for fire (and smoke) spread via these routes.” Therefore, following maintenance it is “good practice” to ensure the fire resistance of walls, floors and ceilings and to safeguard again if necessary.

Emphasised by the BRE is the important of compartmentation, because if it is not upheld, lives are put at stake, “The fire protection of concealed spaces is of prime importance because any deficiencies in installation and materials are not readily apparent and may quickly be covered over. Any inadequacies in such fire protection cannot be observed by the building users and, unlike other engineering provisions within the building, will not be apparent by its impact on everyday life.

Any inadequacies in the fire protection of concealed spaces will only become apparent during the very time that their effectiveness is required – during a fire.” Without means to observe any issues with compartmentation, people entrust their lives to the fire protection in buildings and therefore those who maintain buildings must ensure that the highest standards are kept and exceeded so that they do in fact protect, in the event of a fire.

Meeting minimum fire standards is not enough

Technology must solve industry problems. Not only to become a successful business in terms of profitability but in terms of sustainability and genuinely offering service to the industry in order to reduce risk, improve safety and hopefully have a small part in saving lives. Coltraco Ultrasonics have provided a smart solution to quick and easy assurance of compartmentation using ultrasound to detect signal leaking through any apertures within the barriers.

Ultrasonic room integrity testers, the Portascanner® 520, provides interpretation of the fire resistance of the desired locations, labelling them either airtight or giving an indication of the overall leakage of the room. The advantages of being able to accurately detect the exact leak locations and size are self-evident when considered alongside the resistance to collapse and transfer of excessive heat. In a case where there is too much leakage in a room, the Portascanner® 520 is an unrivalled ideal for the rapid and accurate  identification of these sites so that they can be sealed. It is lightweight, fast and easy to use, allowing leak site detection to increase its operational efficiency and speed to a degree that has never been seen thus far in the Fire Industry.

Coupled with the Portalevel® MAX, ultrasonic liquid level indicator, engineers can check the contents of CO2, FM-200™, Novec™ 1230, FE-13™, FE-25™, FE-36™,  safer, faster and cheaper. With the ability to test cylinders in situ and in just 30 seconds, the Portalevel® MAX saves time so more inspections can be carried out. Using the Portalevel® MAX saves labour costs and removes the risk of injuries, ensuring asset safety in an affordable manner.

In 2019 with the continuing developments in technology there is an expectation that safety should be all encompassing. We cannot let this expectation continue to be a fantasy. Here’s to 2019 of reduced fires worldwide.

KEYWORDS: Room Integrity, Compartmentation, Gaseous Suppression Systems, Fire, Fire Resistance, Portascanner® 520,Portalevel® MAX

Know Your Cause – Prevent Bearing Failure

Fire-extinguisher-blog

Almost all machinery that moves requires bearings. However, they are liable to degradation over time. Bearings will fail for a number of reasons but the key take away is that ALL bearings will degrade at some point and if they are left unchecked, maintained or replaced WILL fail. Knowing the root cause of damage can help prevent future failures. According to ISO 15243, damages left undiagnosed can actually mask the underlying cause if left too long. Most decay in bearing quality occur when lubrication has been used up in the bearing. Identifying when this happens and refilling the oil in the bearing a key way of extending life span.

84% of degradation to bearings occurs once installed. Monitoring can detect abnormalities caused by these and allow preparations for maintenance or replacement, ultimately avoiding failure and saving money. A failure of a bearing is not just the part itself, but for example in the marine industry, the cost to a vessel owner is repair, fitting and downtime in dock and loss of earning whilst not operational. Without systematic procedures and planned maintenance (enabled by condition monitoring) then cost can be very damaging to a business.

Why should you choose the Portamonitor®?

Appropriate monitoring matters because false diagnosis can result in undue downtime, wasted time, money and resources.

When to use?

Portamonitor® can be used for pre-service (proof) testing as well as in-service (re-qualification) testing and condition monitoring.

What is a Distress® unit?

Distress® provides an instant indication of the health of the bearings. It measures the transient activity, such as impacts, friction and surface deformation caused by micro-pitting and fractures. Algorithms inside the Portamonitor® sort this data for comparison against acceptable limits categorised by a number.

Know the state of your system:

The display on the Portamonitor® will show a numeric value indicating the level of distress, for instance: 5-10 indicates the system in “OK”. Between the value of 10-15 indicates the system is “SUSPECT”, and requires further monitoring, whereas >15 indicates a “POOR” system and requires attention.

Save yourself money:

The Portamonitor® is low cost and is very easy to use and train crew and easy to integrate into scheduled maintenance. Using this regularly extends the lifetime of key pumps, bearings and gearboxes saving significant amounts of money over the lifetime of the vessel, extending the time between machinery replacement and ensuring failures do not occur at critical times

KEYWORDS: Bearing, Rotating Machinery, Ultrasonics, Lubrication, Bearing Indicator, Acoustic Emission

“Invest to save?” Why this idiom is rarely heeded but sorely needed

If your asset costs over £1million, you have members of crew operating, who are priceless, and you are keen to keep your insurance premiums down, is it worth risking a fire?

In the UK we will all remember the sad event at Lakanal House in 2009, a tragic fire in a high rise building that killed 6 people and injured at least twenty. Financially, £3.5 million was spent on refurbishment. The Grenfell Tower disaster brought further tragedy when the 24-storey tower block caught fire in June 2017, leading to 72 fatalities, taking 24 hours to be brought under control resulting in damages between £200 million up to £1 billion (still being estimated). Grenfell was the deadliest structural fire since the Piper Alpha tragedy in 1988 which resulted in dramatic changes to the regulations offshore. It is anticipated that Grenfell will similarly result in changes made to the UK's regulations once the inquiry, investigations and inquests are resolved (still ongoing at time of writing - February 2019).  One of the root causes of both the Lakanal and Grenfell tragedies are still being discussed by national press today, the issue of risk and cost:  that one must “invest to save” with fire protection. The saving is not just financial (approximately £200,000 to install sprinklers in high rise buildings vs millions of pounds for salvage and repair following a fire event), but also imperative to save invaluable human life too.

Let’s take the example of fire protection on a ship to work through the associated risks and costs in order to analyse why we must “invest to save”. Fires onboard ships are not rare events. In fact, fire remains the 2nd principal reason for loss of ships at sea. When at sea, the crew are required to become fire fighters in a fire event, yet this is not their primary role onboard. Ships tend to use fixed CO2 fire suppression systems because it is effective, and CO2 is a cheap agent. Therefore, often fire safety is treated as a tick-box exercise.  

The danger of CO2 loss is highlighted by Carl Stephen Patrick Hunter, CEO of Coltraco Ultrasonics who has 30 years’ experience in the shipping and offshore industry: “We estimate that 20% of ships are sailing with a loss of CO2, due to high pressurisation leakage or accidental discharge. This inevitably means that the design concentration of the CO2 will be insufficient to control fire.”

Here are the key reasons why investing in effective, integrated fire protection systems, and in training the crew to inspect these systems is worthwhile:

  • Once CO2 fire suppression systems are installed, it is mandatory to test the systems at least once a year by a certified marine servicing company
  • What is less known is that the regulations also demand that the vessels must have “means shall be provided for the crew to safely check the quantity of the fire extinguishing medium in the containers” in between regulatory checks – IMO SOLAS FSS 2.1.1.3
  • The reason for this is that CO2 is stored under high pressure. This means the agent can leak out the cylinder or accidentally discharge. If it leaks there may be insufficient agent to put out a fire event (scientifically speaking this means “below their design concentration”). So it is important to test the cylinders to ascertain the correct fill of CO2.
  • Traditionally this has been ascertained by manual weighing which requires the system to be switched off, and thus not protecting the ship for the duration of inspection, then each cylinder has to be dismantled from the manifold, requiring two people to carry the cylinder (45KG CO2 fill usually) onto a weigh scale then returned and recoupled etc which can 15 minutes.
  • Considering the average ship may have 600 cylinders, and a ship may only be in port for 4 hours, the need for speed is paramount to conduct rigorous inspection of each cylinder.
  • Today you can use portable ultrasonic liquid level indicators, Portalevel® MAX, to check the fill level of agent takes one person and just 30 seconds. If weight is still the preferred result, a calculator can convert the level to weight in 30 seconds by an intuitive tablet app, the Portasteele® CALCULATOR.

For gaseous fire suppression systems, ensuring the agent will be held in the room for the correct amount of time to put out the fire means compartmentation testing is essential. This means that the room integrity of the compartment which the CO2 protects e.g. the engine room or paint lock compartments, must be tested. As you may know if the compartment lacks integrity it will not contain the CO2 on actuation, in the event of a fire, and if that occurs the high-temperature fire is unlikely to be extinguished. Alongside room integrity, the crew must also inspect for watertight integrity. One leading method of testing both room integrity and watertight integrity is the Portascanner® 520 portable ultrasonic compartment integrity indicator, able to identify a 0.06mm leak aperture with a tolerance of +/-0.02mm.

To invest is to save lives, cargo and vessel. Investing in fire safety will reduce risk, reduce downtime and costs from a fire event. By proving the ship owner’s or manager’s dedication to fire safety may also enable reduced premiums. The same can be said across the many market sectors the fire industry operates in worldwide.

KEYWORDS: CO2, Fire, Grenfell, Piper Alpha, Room Integrity, Compartmentation

What happens when fire extinguishers fail?

Fire-extinguisher-blog

How to improve fire safety on Coast Guard, Naval and Merchant Ships
Recent press has published the story about the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star which experienced a fire incident on 10th February 2019 in the ship’s incinerator room. During this fire, “four fire extinguishers failed, fire crews spent almost two hours extinguishing the fire.”

Fires are happening frequently at sea on board all types of vessel from coast guard to naval to merchant fleets; it is the second cause of vessel loss after sinking and according to Lloyds List, almost 10% of all total losses at sea for the last ten years have been caused by fire.

“Ships are their own fire brigade”
Sailing alone and at sea throughout the year, vessels are without the ability to call upon the emergency services as a land-based asset might and therefore must be able to protect themselves.

What are the risks?
Fires occur most often in the engine room where there is greater risk of combustion due to the high heats of the machinery and in particular if there is an oil leak. The engine rooms are usually protected therefore by a fixed CO2 gaseous extinguishing system. The CO2 is stored under high pressure in these cylinders (720psi/49bar) and there is a risk that the agent will leak. Some marine service companies estimate that 20% of a ship’s CO2 cylinders have discharged or partially leaked their contents at some point in their lifetime. If the CO2 (or other suppressant clean agents such as FM-200® and Novec™1230 are becoming more widely used) leaks there may be insufficient agent to extinguish a fire event.

“CO2 bottles leak”
The risk of leaking and discharging is accepted as part of their use and this is shown in the regulations that demand their upkeep e.g. IMO SOLAS FSS Ch5. 2.1.1.3: “Means shall be provided for the crew to safely check the quantity of the fire extinguishing medium in the container”

However, a current, widely acknowledged gap in the reliability of many marine firefighting systems is the way in which the fire suppressant levels are checked. Misunderstanding also exists across parts of Shipping regarding the application of the above IMO SOLAS FSS Code.

Time to update the rule book
The traditional method to inspect fire systems is to shut-down, dismantle and weigh each cylinder and re-install the gaseous cylinders: taking 2 people 15 minutes per cylinder. Yet most crews are not trained not certified in this method. There is an alternative method available which the USCG and other Coast Guards, Navies, P&I Clubs, Marine Surveyors and Ship Owners may prefer to recommend because it is safer for their ship, cargo, the fire system itself and their crew. It is also quicker and easier making it a cheaper method: ultrasonic liquid level indication takes just 1 person and 30 seconds per cylinder.

Innovation: safer ships
Technology allowing for accurate measurement and logging of agent fill levels in fire suppression systems should be used particularly if fixed firefighting systems are being relied upon without the extra layer of safety that insulation would provide.

Ensure Vessel Safety
Bad industry practice is unacceptable when there are IMO SOLAS recommendations in place to mitigate the fire risk which may have catastrophic results due to risk to life, downtime in operation due to ship safety and repair work and incalculable reputational damage. This is a call to respond to regulations with a rigorous attitude, to go above and beyond, to provide security of life and infrastructure.

If your asset costs over £1million, you have members of crew operating, who are priceless, and you are keen to keep your insurance premiums down, is it worth risking a fire?

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q:   “Getting 3rd parties to test is too expensive and my crew can’t be trained to do it themselves.”

A:   READ BLOG: “Invest to save?” Why this idiom is rarely heeded but sorely needed.

Q:   “But I have pressure gauges on my CO2 Cylinders?”

A:   READ BLOG: Why Pressure Gauges Alone are Insufficient for Detecting Leaks in Gaseous Suppression Systems: 

Q:   “What about the fire safety on cruise and ferry vessels?”

A:   READ BLOG: Passenger ship fire safety push.

Q:   Why is cylinder level testing good?

A:   READ BLOG: It is safer, better, faster and cheaper than weighing.

KEYWORDS: Fire Extinguishers, CO2, Ship, US Coast Guard, IMO, Fire at Sea

Coltraco Ultrasonics ‘Seals’ Deal with Indian Navy

INS Sujata of the Indian Navy – Image from Insider Media Limited: https://www.insidermedia.com/insider/southwest/somerset-company-secures-indian-navy-deal

Coltraco Ultrasonics, an innovative British ultrasonic technology manufacturer for the maritime and naval sectors, has secured a new contract with the Indian Navy, thanks to support from the Department for International Trade (DIT).

The contract will see the British business supply almost 200 of its advanced watertight integrity inspection product Portascanner® WATERTIGHT, to the Indian Navy to protect its sailors by ensuring the hatches, doors and cable transits on its 155 warships are watertight. The contract will service one of the largest navies in the world, employing more than 67,000 personnel.

The deal follows a determined effort by the business to bolster its presence in India, by exhibiting at various trade shows in the country. Coltraco was supported by DIT’s Tradeshow Access Programme (TAP), which is part of the Exporting is GREAT campaign.

Coltraco has provided a similar service to the Royal Navy in the UK for over 20 years and works with customers in 109 countries including Singapore, China and the US. Asia accounts for 40% of the company’s exports, while North America, the Middle East and Europe account for 17%, 10% and 15%, respectively, with the balance to South America and Africa.

Carl Hunter, Chief Executive of Coltraco Ultrasonics, said: “We presented our Portascanner® WATERTIGHT to the Indian Navy who carried out extensive trials with competitors. The Indian Navy selected our product for its accuracy - it’s the most mathematically accurate model available worldwide – its ease-of-use, and the local in-country support. We secured the Indian Navy contract with thanks also to our Indian Naval Partners.

“Working in international markets like India presents opportunities and challenges. With our 30-year export experience, we are well accustomed to managing and succeeding abroad, and one contributing factor is the support from UK Government, especially DIT.  For example, we started exporting many years ago with the help of the Market Research Reports provided by DIT (formerly UKTI) – today called OMIS reports. We have also attended workshops e.g. an Overseas Agent Masterclass that advises on global network development.

“My advice to any company considering exporting is to do it. Exporting has had a huge impact on our business, and if we can, so can other British businesses.”

Keywords:Indian Navy, Portascanner® Watertight, Watertight Integrity, Hatch Cover Tester, MCTS, Watertight Doors

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