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 differen 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.
Confirmed by ABS & Italian Coastguard
Gaseous Systems Leak: confirmed in recent communications from American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) and the Italian Coastguard.
In July 2018, the ABS released advice that there have been multiple cases reported in which CO2 cylinders in fixed fire systems have been found empty. Because of this, ABS have recommended that all shipowners need to conduct a risk assessment of their CO2 systems.
As per the Ministero delle Infrastrutture e dei Trasporti, The Italian Coastguard in a communication to its members: “In consideration of the need to ensure the continuous functionality of the aforementioned fixed fire protection system and to prevent an unexpected release of CO2 into the work environment, it is established that - as of the date of receipt of this Circular - these companies perform, for the units managed with the aforementioned plant, a specific and documented risk assessment, aimed at outlining any necessary measures to protect workers' health and safety.” (translated from Italian).
Why do they leak?
A ship’s gaseous extinguishing system typically comprises between 200 and 600 cylinders each containing 45KG of CO2 under high 720 psi/ 49 bar pressure.
Because gaseous extinguishing systems are highly pressurised, the risk of leaking and discharging is accepted as part of their use and this is shown in the regulations that demand their upkeep.
IMO SOLAS & FSS Code Chapter 126.96.36.199 - “Means shall be provided for the crew to safely check the quantity of the fire extinguishing medium in the containers.”
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 also know that occasionally marine “servicing companies” unintentionally leave it disabled.
What is the solution?
Using an ultrasonic liquid level indicator is the only way that the crew can safely test their CO2 without disturbing them. Coltraco Ultrasonics designed
the ABS Type Approved Portalevel® MAX Marine & Portamarine® ultrasonic liquid level indicators, as radioactive units were being phased out. The Portalevel® MAX MARINE allows crew to implement IMO SOLAS FSS codes by testing safely and quickly (just 30-60 seconds per cylinder).
The Portalevel® MAX Marine allows the crew to be in charge of checking the CO2 systems, as many times as needed: ensuring that the systems will be working when they are needed.
ABS Type Approved Portalevel® MAX Marine is designed primarily for the vessels’ crew to inspect large CO2 & marine CO2 systems of up to 600 cylinders.
Combined with the MAX Marine, The Portasteele® Calculator is an advanced application, that converts the liquid level height of C02, NOVEC™ 1230 and FM-200® liquefied gaseous extinguishant agent readings taken on a Portalevel® device into the agent weight/mass. The Portasteele® CALCULATOR can convert an expected agent weight back to the required liquid level allowing users to anticipate where the level should be.
As advised by ABS and Italian Coastguard, it’s time to conduct your risk assessment and start maintaining your CO2 systems. Choose the quickest, easiest and effective way to maintain your CO2 systems: The Portalevel® MAX Marine and Portasteele® CALCULATOR.
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.
Discover more about Coltraco Ultrasonics’ commitment to customer care and safety on www.coltraco.com.
In response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy, Council Leader Cllr Stephen Cowan said “The fire in Kensington has made one thing clear – just meeting minimum fire standards is not enough. The regulations are clearly not good enough so we will be going above and beyond what is required.” Minimally complying with room integrity testing is not enough. As building age or their internal use is changed leak sites develop and the threat to people becomes high.
To understand how fire resistant a compartment is, an inspection of the overall condition of the existing fire compartments is needed, as well as an assessment of the condition and effectiveness of the sealing of wall/soffit interfaces and an inspection of existing fire seals applied to service penetrations through fire compartment lines. 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 (as shown in the below image). Therefore, following maintenance it is “good practice” to ensure the fire resistance of walls, floors and ceilings and to safeguard again if necessary. But what if this “good practice” is ignored, as it so frequently is, and there is a fire? The gaseous extinguishing system may not be able to control the fire.
Coltraco Ultrasonics have provided a smart solution to quick and easy assurance of compartmentation. The Portascanner® 520 uses ultrasonic Hatch Cover Tester technology to not only pinpoint precise leak locations, but to determine their leak apertures as small as 0.06mm with a tolerance of +/-0.02mm, it is by far the most mathematically proven accurate device for this function.
High value assets such as data centres (the UK has the largest concentration globally outside of the USA); military communication facilities (at the time of writing, the UK has the second largest defence budget globally); power generating stations; electricity and gas sub-stations; mobile phone networks; critical engineering facilities; offshore oil and gas platforms; pipeline transmission; and refineries, are all items of infrastructure with widespread catastrophic effect in the event of their downtime or shutdown. Their asset values requiring fire protection far exceed the delivery of minimal compliance, and the cost or damage to reputational integrity is far in excess of the cost of a real-time monitoring system.
The UK fire industry is accepted around the world as a leader in its understanding of good engineering practice and has some of the finest fire engineers globally. The definition of a free market is an idealised form of market economy in which buyers and sellers are allowed to transact freely based on a mutual agreement on price without state intervention in the form of taxes, subsidies or regulation. If we accept that we do not operate in such an economy but in one that is regulated and that we have global engineering standing within our industry, then the only reason price dominates is that government and regulators are standing aside from the creation of an environment in which safe engineering goes rewarded rather than being prejudiced, and potentially because the industry itself is unaware of the latest technology.
SCIENCE IS at the core of our company, which devotes significant resource to research and development for fire industry and end users.
Ultrasound is merely acoustic (sound) energy in the form of waves of high frequency that are above the human audible range. It is used industrial fields. Sound itself consists of vibrations that propagate as a mechanical wave or pressure and transmit through solid, liquid or gaseous mediums. In physiology, sound is the reception of such waves and in psychology their perception by the brain, which is why a human being listening with one ear angled from the other (and therefore at a different distance from the sound source to the other) ‘hears’ sound as one sound.
Coltraco aims to replicate nature and use these fundamental physical principles to design and manufacture products and systems that can be used by fire engineers and their customer installations.
Portascanner® 520 uses ultrasound to test the integrity of confined spaces and can detect leak sites as small as 0.06mm. Portagauge® 3 uses ultrasound to test the internal and external corrosion on pipework and cylinder wall thickness to an accuracy of +/- 0.1mm. Globally, we are known for the design and manufacture of 11 different model types of Portalevel® liquid level indicators, accurate to +/-1.5mm for CO2, FM-200, NOVEC 1230, HFC-225 and 227, remaining halon systems, FE-13, FE-25 and FE-36. We can monitor these 24/7 with the fixed data logging and autonomous monitoring systems Permalevel® Multiplex and Permalevel® Single Point. Signals from these fixed monitoring sites can be monitored centrally at the customer location. Globally. liquefied extinguishant weight conversions are mathematically possible with the recent launch of the world’s first Portasteele® Liquid level to mass conversion calculator.
Although the value of the marine assets that fire systems protect is increasing rapidly, the competitiveness of the free market encourages cost cutting. Often, cheap systems only minimally comply with the regulations and, in fact, there are very few qualified engineers who may be considered experts on the subject. This creates an environment in which a ‘safety first’ culture is both eschewed and unrewarded.
“This attitude feels in direct opposition to that in the aerospace sector, where if a fault occurs on an aircraft, that information is quickly and openly shared with airline operators, civil aviation authorities and engineering organisations,” says Carl Hunter, CEO & MD of Coltraco Ultrasonics. “In shipping, unless a fatality occurs, incidents are often left unreported.”
With many ships sailing with partially-filled, over-filled or empty carbon dioxide cylinders and many undisclosed instances of accidental discharges or slow seepages there is real cause for concern – and impetus to change.
“Given both the lives of crew and cargo are at stake, it seems unfathomable that these systems are not permanently monitored rather certified just once a year,” says Hunter, noting also that that crew should be in a position to inspect them. The FSS Code stipulates that “means shall be provided for the crew to safely check the quantity of the fire extinguishing medium in the containers”.
Arguably, the existence of regulations (such as those set by IMO) guides – and occasionally curbs – the direction taken by the free market. This then means that the current state of affairs, where ‘price is king’ results either from an unwillingness by regulators to create an environment where safe engineering is rewarded or because the industry itself is unaware of new technology that will help it meet both the spirit and letter of the regulation.
Technologies already exist that can easily and accurately monitor everything from gases under pressure to liquefied contents and corrosion of pipework. The traditional method of using a cylinder pressure gauge (located at the meeting point of valve and neck of a pressurised cylinder) is both obsolete and impractical – especially when cost-cutting may result in use of minimally-compliant gauge mechanisms.
Economic pressures do tend however to shipping companies to source contracts with Marine services cheaply and some of these companies bid to service a ships CO2 system at the most economical cost, sometimes meaning that there have been cases of inadequate work being performed, inadequate time allocated for the statutory certification check of the ships fire system and often caused by under-skilled and untrained servicing crews conducting manual cylinder weighing. This places the ships fire extinguishing system at risk of potential discharge from the high pressure (720 psi) during cylinder maintenance and if the cylinders have not been checked for correct CO2 agent fill weights may not give a full release when required.
Time is an important factor: to dismantle and weigh and re-install a 45KG CO2 cylinder can take 30-40 minutes. If a ship has several hundred cylinders it is difficult to imagine how this can take less than 3-4 days rather than the 3-4 hours some ships are tested in. Of every 100 cylinders it is estimated that 3-4 will have discharged completely and another 3-4 leaked partially particularly in ships older than 2 years old. Using a Portalevel™ each cylinder can be tested in 30 seconds and without shutting down and dismantling.
These economic pressures also affect ultrasonic watertight integrity testing in which low cost methods such as chalk compression and high pressure hose testing are most common, yet cannot give any indication of erosion points in a seal or areas which may give way under pressure and nor can be used when the vessel is at sea. The economic costs of the damage that could be caused to a vessel and cargo far outweighs the costs of a thorough test. The SOLAS Code suggests that on passenger ships there should be weekly watertight integrity inspections while the ship is at sea (Reg II-1/21.3).
Coltraco Ultrasonics understands the essential nature of safety assurance, and have a range of ultrasonic technology which provides non-invasive complete watertight and cylinder surveying on any vessel.
Having a Portalevel™ unit aboard each vessel is not an option for ship owners. The Portalevel MAX Marine is designed to test the contents of ships CO2 and NOVEC™1230 fire extinguishing cylinders in under 30 seconds. With an accuracy of up to +/- 1.5mm or 1/8” and the ability to measure multi-bank rows 2-4 deep, the Portalevel™ Max Marine is ideal for service companies inspecting large fire suppression systems in place of the statutory annual certification check by a licensed marine servicing company. Having a Portalevel™ on-board also means that ships are able to comply with IMO SOLAS FSS code (188.8.131.52 MEANS SHALL BE PROVIDED FOR THE CREW TO SAFELY CHECK THE QUANTITY OF FIRE-EXTINGUISHING MEDIUM IN THE CONTAINERS) as the ship’s crew can test the contents of their CO2 and NOVEC cylinders in-between the annual certification checks.
The Portasteele™ Calculator transforms the liquid level height of C02 NOVEC™ 123, FM-200™and other liquefied gaseous readings taken on the UL-listed Portalevel® MAX Marine device into weight/mass. This advanced technology is supplied on a stand-alone 7” computer-tablet which makes these calculations in real time. The Portasteele™ has the ability to save frequently used cylinder sizes and settings and export collected testing data directly via email.
Coltraco Ultrasonics has developed a range of patented solutions to speed up the cylinder-checking process without compromising on safety standards. The company manufactures two particular tools specifically for this purpose: the PortalevelÒ MAX Marine and the PortasteeleÒ Calculator application. Used in conjunction by a single person, Hunter claims, these two products can enable crew to identify a leaking cylinder (or one that has previously leaked agent) within as little as 30 seconds.
The first step is to place the Portalevel MAX Marine against the side of the cylinder. This 160mm (h) x 82mm (w) x 30mm (d) monitor pings an ultrasonic signal into the cylinder, which allows the user to “pinpoint the liquid level sensor of suppressant agent”, Hunter says. This data can be logged and saved for future transfer to a PC or similar device, and is time-stamped for authenticity, so that operators/owners and crew can prove that they have carried out adequate checks in compliance with existing safety regulations.
In this way, the liquid level height has been obtained. However, it is not a given that the user will know how to convert this figure to determine the weight and mass of the extinguishing agent – nor that they will have the time to sit down and manually calculate hundreds of such readings.
The second step, then, is to feed the data captured by the Portalevel MAX Marine into the Portasteele® Calculator app. Hunter elaborates: “The app can be installed on a 5” or 7” tablet. The user inputs information related to: the extinguishing agent type [ie, CO2, Novec 1230, etc]; the cylinder dimensions; the temperature of the agent; and the liquid level indicator. The Portasteele® app then instantly provides the agent’s weight.” This process can also be conducted vice versa, inputting the suppressant agent’s mass/weight to generate a reading for liquid level height.
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. All types of seals, experience dynamic stresses as part of their operational lifetime. For example, 4mm wear on the steel-to-steel contact is sufficient to damage rubber sealing gaskets beyond repair; 5mm sag along the cross-joint can cause a large gap between the compression bar and gasket.
The risk is worsened by the ageing nature of many bulk carrier ships in particular. There is also a degree of bending/deformation that naturally occurs in ships during travel, which puts pressure on hatch covers and can damage sealing. A recent wave of inexperienced crew members has swept across the shipping industry as a cost-saving mechanism, leaving vessel maintenance and hatch cover testing to decrease in quality. While hatch covers are often perceived as indestructible due to their large size and bulky exterior, in reality they are complex, finely made structures that need to be handled with care, a point that many mariners do not realise.
The case study of the Emma Maersk exemplifies the danger of improper servicing. A severe leakage occurred on the container ship in February 2013 when it was loaded with 14,000 containers. The leakage was caused because of a mechanical break-down of a stern thruster, creating the shaft tunnel to flood, as well as leading to severe ingress of water in the aft part. Eventually there was flooding of the main engine room. This was because of non-effective cable penetration sealings, in a sudden blast, four cable penetration sealings in the watertight bulkhead gave way to the water pressure followed by a massive ingress of seawater. Shortly after this, the other three cable penetration sealings also failed, resulting in an even larger ingress of water into the engine room. This led to approximately USD 45 million worth of damages and towage cost.
By greatly reducing the chance of water ingress occurring - it may be possible to save lives, vessel integrity, and cargo at sea - if safer and improved methods of hatch cover testing are implemented. On seafaring vessels and platforms, any doors, hatches and covers on deck are weathertight as, under normal conditions, they will not be submerged and need only prevent water ingress from weather conditions and waves. Internal doors, particularly those which go down the pontoon legs are watertight so sections can be sealed off completely should water ingress occur. The introduction of a continuous watertight integrity monitoring system is the only reliable solution to obtain certainty that the seals are behaving the way they should whether the vessel is at dock or at sea.
Coltraco designs, manufactures and supports a world-leading range with a technological basis in ultrasonics. Their expertise developed from their flagship invention (the Portalevel® liquid level indicator), to over 30 equipment. Many of these are UL-listed, ABS & RINA Type Approved and IMO SOLAS FSS compliant.
Coltraco is transformational in manufacturing portable inspection products and Constant Monitoring systems for:
Based in London, manufacturing in the UK, operating in 108 countries, on-board nearly 10,000 vessels, Coltraco has 30 years’ experience.
Coltraco delivers Safesite™ & Safeship™ technologies at safety critical infrastructure and high value assets on land & at sea. The crew, cargo and vessel must be protected because it is its own “emergency service” when sailing at sea, without access to a typical shore-based emergency fire service. A ships fixed extinguishing system protects the machinery spaces. They allow engine room fires to be responded to, with minimal risk to the vessels crew. However, the fixed extinguishing system has to be used properly and for this, its on-board maintenance is essential. At its heart are its contents in the cylinders. Our contribution to Safety at Sea has been to build a package of capability that can be easily and safely used by the crew in routine maintenance of clean agent extinguishing systems as part of the vessel Safety Management System (SMS).
The Smart Ship can be a Safe Ship by implementing new technology such as that developed by Coltraco Ultrasonics. The neglect of continuous monitoring of the fundamental protection provided by the gaseous extinguishing systems and watertight integrity imperils the lives of ship’s crews and occupants and at the risk of crippling financial and reputational loss to the tanker owner. Continuously monitoring gaseous extinguishing systems and watertight integrity with the aid of IoT raises awareness of the safety critical need to implement and exceed regulations, through continuous inspection.
The crew have a responsibility to implement the regulations via regular testing, which enabled through smart ultrasonic technology and IoT, should be done continuously to avoid negligence and unnecessary risk. Misunderstanding exists across parts of shipping industry regarding the application of a part of the IMO SOLAS FSS Code: the need for crew to test the contents of their CO2 & marine CO2 systems, FM-200® & NOVEC™ 1230 Gaseous Extinguishing Systems in between the periodic inspection, maintenance and certification intervals. These periodic inspections are conducted annually or biennially, and only by an Accredited Service Agent i.e. an external Marine Servicing Company. The reason IMO requires crew to test for contents in-between these is that the “ship sails alone” and “there is no such thing as a small fire at sea”; it must act as its own emergency fire service, differing to a land based asset. In order to create a Safeship® the crew must be in full understanding of the status their safety systems at all times and not just at the times of the inspections – achieved by continuous monitoring.
Gaseous extinguishing systems must be able to actuate, or release their gas, in the event of a fire. Given that the gaseous systems are designed specifically to the individual need of the vessel, and it is known that they leak, then a 5% loss of agent may mean that they would not fully extinguish the fire. These are pressurised systems, so the point of monthly checking for contents is to identify loss of contents through leakage or accidental discharge before they fall below their capacity to extinguish (technically described as: delivering their design concentration). Only having the annual inspection by accredited marine servicing companies is not enough – the crew must take responsibility for its own fire protection and inspecting the gaseous extinguishing systems. But what if there is leakage in between these monthly checks? With fewer, even lower-skilled crew and a greater dependence on autonomous machinery, the dependence on fire systems being checked from shore, let alone on the ship in person, will only become greater. Manual weighing is not only laborious, but also dangerous to the crew conducting the servicing. New technology allows ship owners and crews to help them both the spirit and letter of the regulation and thus know that their vessel is protected in the event of a fire.
Smart technology provides the crew and ship owners with ease of inspection and understanding their extinguishing systems. However, the crew will not be able to refill the gaseous extinguishing system, and instead must rely on notifying the marine servicing company when they arrive at a port, despite the fact that they may only be at the port for a very short amount of time. Due to time pressures, the risk of not being able to find a contractor in time to fill the cylinders in the event of leakage is one that could jeopardise the safety of the entire ship when it is time to set sail. Furthermore, it is well known that vessels are kept at the dock for a minimum amount of time, which reduces time for repairs and thus efficiency without compromise of safety is key. Continuously monitoring the cylinders with ultrasonic sensors that utilises IoT can avoid this, because the network contribution. Using IoT enables the advance notification of the crew and shore based services whilst at sea. Therefore, preparations to address the issues can be made prior to docking to ensure the issues are resolved given the minimum time they have. By having the ability to understand the contents’ level of their gaseous extinguishing systems whilst at sea, the crew are also able to comply and exceed the IMO SOLAS FSS and ISO 14520 regulations, whilst ensuring the Safeship®.
Gaseous extinguishing systems are highly pressurised, the risk of leaking and discharging is accepted as part of their use, shown in the regulations that demand their upkeep e.g. IMO SOLAS FSS Ch5. 184.108.40.206:
“Means shall be provided for the crew to safely check the quantity of the fire extinguishing medium in the container”
Often this is misunderstood, this code specifically states that the crew must test their extinguishing installations in between the periodic inspection, maintenance and certification. Only having the annual inspection by accredited marine servicing companies is not enough – the crew must take responsibility for its own fire protection. However, what must be noted is that the crew are often not trained or certified to shut-down, dismantle, weigh and re-install the gaseous cylinders – the traditional method.
Coltraco Ultrasonics focus on benefitting the crew; designing innovative ultrasonic solutions which promote safety culture, which the crew will be happy to use by being easy to operate, quick, accurate and a better method to traditional techniques.
The Portalevel® MAX Marine is designed primarily for the vessels’ crew to themselves inspect large fire suppression systems of up to 600 cylinders. The ease of operation in comparison to weighing, increases the ability of more regular and frequent checks, improving fire safety management onboard. Coltraco’s innovative method of inspecting leaking cylinders with ultrasonics CO2 & marine CO2 systems, enables identification in under 30 seconds using Portalevel® with one person, instead of the traditional 15 minutes, with two people laboriously weighing.
This can be in-between the statutory annual maintenance and certification intervals provided by shore-based contractors. 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.
How is that done in a test?
Answer: Before or during the Door Fan Test, the goal is to obtain an overall understanding of
how much the room was leaking. The process to do this starts off by turning the ultrasound
emitter on and leaving the emitter in the room. Exit the room and look for areas which
commonly leak and use the receiver to pinpoint the exact position of these leaks where leaking
ultrasound would be detected. The leak tests can be done on doors, raised floors, cable
penetrations and out of air vents. Some wall areas can also be quickly checked by running the
sensor wand across. These leaks can be promptly sealed before the Door Fan Test equipment
is brought in or before the Door Fan Test is repeated
How can the more challenging areas of an enclosure be tested for leakage areas such as raised floors and false ceilings?
Answer: If the leakages from the room into the void area above the false ceiling need to be
found, one can locate the leaks in the ceiling tiles by placing the compact ultrasound generator
in the void area and scanning the false ceiling tiles below using the receiver.
If the leakages above the false ceiling tiles leading to the adjoining rooms is more of a concern,
then the important leakage areas to note in the ceiling void are areas close to the air vents or
cable penetrations that leads into the adjoining rooms. The ultrasound generator placed within
the room will fill the room with ultrasound allowing these areas to be tested from the adjoining
When testing leaks that go from areas underneath raised flooring into the adjoining rooms,
the ultrasound generator can be placed underneath the floor tiles and the leaks tested outside
from the adjoining rooms. Examples of areas to note are areas where cabling exists between
the adjoining rooms. The ultrasound generator placed underneath the floor tiles will fill the
entire area with ultrasound and the leaks from the cable penetrations can be tested by pointing
the receiver towards the cable exit in the adjoining room.
There are 3 areas where the Portascanner® 520 will assist you in your Room Integrity Tests /
Door Fan Test (DFT):
Based on the assumption that many rooms fail their initial Room Integrity Test, the handheld
Portascanner® 520 will assist in:
indicate location and extent of leak sites prior to a scheduled DFT session for
remedial action to be taken to maximise the “PASS” rate the test.
contractor’s range of services by finding and patching up leaks before the
scheduled DFT test day. This is because sealants take time to set and may impede
the operations of a DFT if remedial work is conducted on the DFT scheduled day
ultrasound is fast and non-invasive, a quick ultrasonic leak survey can be conducted
on site to locate early leak sites. This information can assist the fire contractor’s
quoting process and may act as preliminary evidence to justify the quote proposed.
Overall, this practice improves the prospect of securing an initial DFT “PASS” – and
thus delivering up an efficacious fire protection outcome.
the exact location and extent of the leak sites while the DFT is being carried out.
alongside DFT allows remedial work to be conducted immediately.
Based on the assumption that the structural integrity of rooms will change over time, the
handheld Portascanner® 520 will assist in:
achieve the retention time required, periodic ultrasonic room integrity tests can be conducted
using an ultrasound scanner to comply with enclosure integrity maintenance as
listed in the ISO 14520, EN15004 and NFPA regulations.
room can remain continuing their daily tasks without affecting the leak detection
Do I have to purchase the Portacare® package at the same time as my product?
No, you have up to 12 months after the date of your PO for your new product to opt in to the Portacare® package. After this date you will be expected to pay for your first calibration.
Does the Portacare® include customer induced damage?
No, the Portacare® package does not include customer-induced damage. However 25% discount will be given on the first repair.
Can I move my Portacare® package to a new model if I choose to upgrade?
Yes, you the remaining cover in the Portacare® package can be transferred to a new mode if an upgrade is taken.
Can I adjust the Portacare® package to suit my needs and requirements?
Absolutely, we are happy to tailor your Portacare® package to your requirements.
What happens if a component becomes obsolete?
We will provide a free replacement unit of a similar life.
Do I have to sign up to a 5 year contacts?
The Portacare® package is normally for 3-5 years of cover although we are happy to discuss shorter or longer term lengths.
Can I have one package to cover all of my devices?
Yes, if you have multiple sets across different locations, we can offer a single Portacare® package to manage all your units.
What are the turn around times?
The turnaround times for calibration is 2 days, workshop repair 5 days and factory repairs 14 days.
In the event of downtime or shutdown to fire, there could be catastrophic effects to high value assets, such as critical mining infrastructure
Coltraco Ultrasonics is a British designer and manufacturer of Safesite® ultrasonic and instrumentation and constant monitoring systems.
The Firetest package protects your critical assets:
Bearings are an integral device widely used in machinery that requires rotational, axial or linear movement to operate whilst restricting motion into a designed path, minimising friction and stress. Many industries have machinery that requires some form of motion enabled by bearings. Such as:
Steel production facilities
Steel and iron use cold rolling mill machi-nery. The working rolls of the plant are the most extensively monitored. This is quite a challenging monitoring environment due to high temperatures, high and low-speed operation, as well as high contamination of water and debris.
Slow turning rolling element bearings require monitoring in this industry. Machinery such as crushers, stackers, conveyors, vibrating feeders, magnetic separators, slurry and vacuum pumps, classifiers, agitators and compressors.
Paper processing Industry
Papermaking machine bearings operate under very high temperatures and can be vulnerable to fractures of the inner ring, causing stoppages in production. Monitoring is done to determine the condition of the rolling-element bearings of the rolls, roll alignment, balance, and the condition of the electric motors and gearboxes.
Many machines in this industry require monitoring of bearing condition, including crushers, mills, separators, roller presses, separators, conveyors, feeders, air compressors and fans. Most of which use rolling-element bearings powered by electric motors.
Thermal power industry
Gas and steam turbine generators and combined cycle plants require their most critical machines monitored. Dynamic rotating machines use high-speed rotating parts. The cost of failure in this industry is far-reaching.
Diesel engines, gas turbines and nuclear reactor powered ships utilise bearings in all areas, from crankshafts to pistons and pumps. Also, gearboxes fans and other motors onboard, such as alternators used to generate electricity.
Coltraco Ultrasonics are a leading British designer and manufacturer of ultrasonic technology. Headquartered in London, with an R&D and support facility in the South West of the UK. Coltraco Ultrasonics strive towards creating innovative, reliable and effective equipment to provide a level of safety that goes beyond minimal compliance regulations. Coltraco Ultrasonics are proud exporters, exporting 89% of output 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. Coltraco Ultrasonics exporting is supported by our global network of Strategic Partners, ODA (Organisational Delegated Authority) Service Centres and Distributors. Exporting is at Coltraco’s core and a consequence of the global appeal of its high-end science and technology R&D and manufacturing capability in the UK. This great science and technology capability and the integrity thereof distinguishes how Coltraco compete in a global market. Coltraco are committed to integrity throughout their company from design, manufacture, supply and after sales support to ensure they are world-leaders.
Coltraco Ultrasonics are members of 16 trade associations across a multi-sectoral base and our CEO is on the Governing Councils of 5 of them. Coltraco’s CEO speaks regularly at conferences to; outline EU Exit opportunities, encourage export growth, invigorate the SME sector and promote innovation pathways.
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’s ultrasonics expertise is focused upon 3 technology strands and their support:
The company originated from the idea of combatting the 2 main causes of vessel loss: sinking and fire.
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.
Gaseous extinguishing systems are highly pressurised, the risk of leaking and discharging is accepted as part of their use, shown in the regulations that demand their upkeep e.g. IMO SOLAS FSS Ch5. 220.127.116.11. The systems are pressurised approximately 24-29 bars, higher than a standard cup of water which is 1bar. It’s accepted that these systems are not passive but dynamic, thus requiring monitoring. The traditional method requires turning the system off, dismantling and manually weighing each cylinder on industrial scales. Routine maintenance is liable to be overlooked because the crew is unqualified to test or insufficient attention is given by the owner of the system. It’s neglected to the peril of the lives of occupants of the ship and at the risk of crippling financial and reputational loss to the cruiseliner.
Innovative methods of inspecting leaking cylinders with ultrasonics, enables identification in under 30 seconds using Portalevel® with one person, instead of the traditional 15 minutes, with two people labouriously weighing. Using ultrasonic liquid level indicator technology - to pinpoint the liquid level of suppressant agent in the cylinders of the extinguishing system- testing is quicker and easier.
The MAX Marine is designed primarily for maritime applications where either third party service companies or the vessels’ crew themselves inspect large fire suppression systems of up to 600 cylinders. The ease of operation in comparison to weighing, increases the ability of more regular and frequent checks, improving fire safety management onboard. Portalevel® MAX enables its users to go above and beyond minimal regulations compliance, thus becoming industry leaders.
Coltraco finds success in supplying the global shipping network with the assistance of international partners and ODAs, who provide local support to customers. Coltraco strive towards creating innovative and effective equipment to provide a level of safety that goes beyond regulations. Coltraco designs, manufactures and supports a world-leading range with a technological basis in ultrasonics.
Given that 400 million European passengers every year entrust themselves to the safety of the ship that they travel on, any accidents on board are serious threats to the safety of those passengers. About 6 per cent of fires on ro-ro passenger ships have resulted in loss of life or serious injury and every year. In December 2014, 11 people were killed and several were injured in a fire aboard the Norman Atlantic ro-ro passenger ship. Chances must not be taken when lives are at risk, and when a vessel is at sea, this is all the time.
Protecting the merchant fleet
Research coordinated by IMO has indicated that between 30% and 50% of all fires on merchant ships originate in the engine room and 70% of those fires are caused by oil leaks from pressurised systems. There are generally two types of engine room fires: oil or electric. Engine room fires are one of the most common fires on ships due to the running machinery, and sources of fuel and ignition within them. Oil fires are the most serious. Mechanical issues such as fracture, fatigue failure and also under-tightened components or seals may result in catastrophic occurrences. Furthermore, it was noted, that high pressure fuel delivery pipes should be covered with jackets capable of containing leaks in case of pipe failure. There is a call to respond to regulations with a rigorous attitude, to go above and beyond, to provide security of life and vessel.
Complying with fire safety regulations does not guarantee safety.
The UK P&I Club have suggested that extended periods of time on board a ship without a fire incident can lead to complacency and therefore a failure of prioritizing prevention methods and fire incident practices. It is impossible to prepare for all eventualities on a vessel, and it is often easier to influence the prompt detection of fires and their effective extinguishment, and these factors therefore play a key role in minimising fire damage aboard vessels. Yet, one of the reasons why accidents are still happening and fire safety is still a major issue in the shipping industry is the lack of development in firefighting equipment available on board container ships.
Contain the risk of fire
Vice Chairman’s of the International Union of Marine Insurance (IUMI) stated that to global shipping, major fires on container ships are among the worst hazards. Part of the problem is as container ship sizes have increased, the firefighting equipment on board has not experienced the same development. In their 2015 annual report, the USCG identified that the greatest deficiency onboard ships was its firefighting appliances. An example of where the risk has become a danger is the CCNI Arauco. On the CCNI Aruco, 300 firefighters were needed after an unsuccessful seal and flood of the vessels hold with CO2. The hatch had to be flooded and then foam was used to bring the fire under control. The main difficulty comes from the inadequate equipment which the crew had to tackle the fire and as a result there has been calls for the technology to change.
Case study: Engine Room Fire 2009
Largely used in shipping as a tool to gauge thickness, yet with more varied uses across military, medical and industrial fields - is now being put to more advanced, innovative uses in shipping for fire safety solutions too.
One of the sciences being harnessed by innovators in the fire safety sector is that of Ultrasound: i.e. acoustic (sound) energy in the form of waves of high frequency that are above the human audible range. Although the shipping world merely uses it as a tool to ultrasonic thickness gauge, it has seen far more varied use across military, medical and industrial fields. Sound is, in itself, vibrations that propagate as a mechanical wave or pressure and transmit through solid, liquid or gaseous mediums. Coltraco is one of a number of companies using these fundamental physical principles to design and manufacture products and systems that can be used by fire engineers and their customer installations.
Today we know this as SONAR. Ultrasound is sound beyond our audible range. We are familiar with it through our hospitals during pregnancy scanning or the BBC when we “hear” dolphins and bats using it to communicate and navigate on wildlife programmes. We only hear that on our televisions as the ultrasound is hetrodyned to convert the ultrasound into something we can hear. But just as sound travels more quickly through water than air we understand that it travels through both. And its speed of travel can be measured. And because a gaseous system contains liquid or gas and it discharges into a protected space, so too can ultrasound be used to monitor all 3 of these
As the world changes, so must our industry integrate technological solutions to provide a bulwark against wider industry misinterpretation and minimal, even occasional and flagrant, disregard in the application of standards and good global engineering practise, creating standards which all can understand and apply.
As stated in IMO SOLAS FSS Ch5. 18.104.22.168: “Means shall be provided for the crew to safely check the quantity of the fire extinguishing medium in the container”
Often this is misunderstood, this code specifically states that the crew must test their extinguishing installations in between the periodic inspection, maintenance and certification. Only having the annual inspection by accredited marine servicing companies is not enough – the crew must take responsibility for its own fire protection. However, what must be noted is that the crew are often not trained or certified to shut-down, dismantle, weigh and re-install the gaseous cylinders. To overcome this, ships need to test their CO2 systems for contents in-between the annual certification checks by marine servicing companies.
Using an ultrasonic liquid level indicator is the only way that the crew can safely test their CO2 without disturbing them. Coltraco Ultrasonics designed the Portalevel® MAX Marine & Portamarine® ultrasonic liquid level indicators, as radioactive units were being phased out. If shipping companies implemented the IMO SOLAS FSS codes by testing safely and quickly (just 30-60 seconds per cylinder) by using liquid level indicators and marine servicing companies were able to do their work without allowing for time pressures, then marine safety would be far safer.
Solutions for any vessels marine gaseous extinguishing system exist:
Leaking hatch covers are generally accepted as a principal cause of cargo damage. Hatches leak for a variety of reasons, but mainly because of poor maintenance or failure to seal them properly after loading. Leaking or badly maintained hatch covers can lead to more serious consequences than wet cargo such as flooding, accelerated corrosion or even loss of the ship. Improper sealing of hatches can lead to water ingress, which may cause damage to cargo or even catastrophic loss of life and vessel. This is supported by another report on hatch covers tester from 2001 that “hatch cover deterioration or mal-operation could jeopardise the lives of seafarers and may contribute to the loss of vessels. 33% of large claims by value in general cargo and bulk carrier vessels are caused by leaking hatch covers. Even on new ships, hatch covers may only be truly weather-tight in the static "alongside" condition and cannot be guaranteed in dynamic sea state conditions
The Swedish P&I Club has noticed that there is an increased number of costly wet damage claims. These claims are most commonly seen on bulk carriers and container vessels. Wet damage claims make up 19.56% of claims in total. The poor condition of cargo hatch covers is often the reason behind this. The Swedish P&I Club have pushed for more preventive measures for cargo hatch cover issues, including regular ultrasonic tests on cargo hatches. Successfully, Coltraco have designed the Portascanner® WATERTIGHT, a portable Ultrasonic Watertight Integrity indicator – for testing watertight and weather-tight seals. This is 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 ultrasound generator emits a modulated signal of a specific frequency of ultrasound (in most cases 40,000Hz). The receiver then picks up the signal and converts it into a result indicating watertight integrity
A dry freight convey is a kind of holder or mass transporter having two or three load holds or spaces where it can suit the payload. All store holds in such ships are equipped with a solid made best which is known as incubate covers.
Usage of Hatch Cover: Cargoes and Products holds are managed, these deliver spreads to keep the contact of payload with external condition i.e. air, air and water and to keep away from stack from getting wet. Another fundamental commitment of hatch cover is to keep up the watertight trustworthiness of the ship at all ocean condition by not permitting any path of water inside the compartments of payload and irritating the unflinching nature of the ship. Before you are set up to leave, guarantee you have done ultrasonic hatch cover testing.
Requirement for Hatch Covers: Hatch covers of cargo hold are everything considered conveyed using high versatile steel or lightweight steel. They are settled over a steel bar of the specific load hold with adaptable pressing delved in the midst of them to evade water entrance. A particular routine help to be worked by careful officer from the group on send which ought to fundamentally join.
Immensity of Hatch Cover Testing: It is greatly fundamental to have hatch cover testing to take out the test before setting without end for the trek. It is useful to repair each something beforehand you leave as it gives you better space and time to give nourishment any emergency or broken parts/things. In addition, this test empowers you to grow your capability and get the trust of clients for progress immovable quality and business.
Coltraco Ultrasonics has developed a range of solutions to speed up the cylinder-checking process without compromising on safety standards. The company manufactures two particular tools specifically for this purpose: the PortalevelÒ MAX Marine and the PortasteeleÒ Calculator application. Used in conjunction by a single person, Hunter claims, these two products can enable crew to identify a leaking cylinder (or one that has previously leaked agent) within as little as 30 seconds.
The first step is to place the Portalevel MAX Marine Calculating fire suppression agent weight the side of the cylinder. This andheld unit fits in the palm of the hand monitor pings an ultrasonic signal into the cylinder, which allows the user to “pinpoint the liquid level of suppressant agent”, Hunter says. In this way, the liquid level height has been obtained under 30 seconds for a competent user.
However, it is not a given that the user will know how to convert this figure to determine the weight and mass of the extinguishing agent – nor that they will have the time to sit down and manually calculate hundreds of such readings. The second step, then, is to feed the data captured by the Portalevel MAX Marine into the Portasteele® Calculator app. Hunter elaborates: “The app is installed on a ruggedised 7” tablet. The user inputs information related to: the extinguishing agent type [ie, CO2, Novec 1230, etc]; the cylinder dimensions; the temperature of the agent; and the liquid level height. The Portasteele® app then instantly provides the agent’s weight.” This process can also be conducted vice versa, inputting the suppressant agent’s mass/weight to generate a reading for liquid level height. This data can then be logged and saved for future transfer to a PC or similar device, so that operators/owners and crew can prove that they have carried out adequate checks in compliance with existing safety regulations and in fact going above and beyond them.
Coltraco Ultrasonics implemented the Safeship® concept, to promote protecting critical infrastructure at sea. Bad industry practice is unacceptable when fire risk may have catastrophic results due to risk to life, downtime in operation due to ship safety and repair work and incalculable reputational damage. The crew, cargo and vessel must be protected when at sea because it is it’s own fire brigade without accessibility to typical emergency services. This is a call to respond to regulations with a rigorous attitude, to go above and beyond, to provide security of life and infrastructure.
As a result, Coltraco designed the FLEETSAFE: a package of innovative safety tools to combat the above and comply with regulations
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.
Standardisation is required in the shipping industry to allow for confidence in technology by operators. Common standards ensures consistency, which promotes safety and efficiency. Standardisation is key to streamline processes and in the exchange of data – when utilised this will allow the shipping industry to embrace the huge potential that digitalisation has to offer the shipping industry.
Shipping needs to adopt an approach such as the aerospace industry, which is affected by international cooperation and strongly controlled by national and international regulations and standards in order to ensure safety, reliability, and cost-efficiency. In the aerospace industry, the Federal Aviation Administration and European Aviation Safety Agency generate the regulations and the airlines and member state national civil aviation authorities, such as the UK Civil Aviation Authority and Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul services implement them. A failure to certify that they have been implemented will result in an aircraft not being certified to fly.
In shipping the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) generates many of the regulations and its member flag states, such as the UK’s Maritime and Coastgaurd Agency, are expected to implement them. Indeed, they are subject to interpretation by them. The single most useful thing that the UK could do for shipping globally is to lead at the IMO so that its regulations are implemented through standardisation.
Speaking in from the expertise of Coltraco Ultrasonics (in the monitoring of gaseous extinguishing systems), below is an example of how standardisation will allow the shipping industry to become safer and ensure the implementation of regulations.
The regulations that currently govern gaseous extinguishing systems are the IMO SOLAS Fire Safety Systems (FSS) Code and the BS EN ISO 14520 standards. These require that the liquefied gaseous cylinders be checked for an agent loss of more than 5%, at which point they should be refilled or replaced.
Standardisation means that the crew have a responsibility to implement the regulations via regular testing, which enabled through smart ultrasonic technology and Internet of Things (IoT) IoT, should be done continuously to avoid negligence and unnecessary risk.
Smart technology provides the crew and ship owners with ease of inspection and understanding their extinguishing systems. However, the crew will not be able to refill the gaseous extinguishing system, and instead must rely on notifying the marine servicing company when they arrive at a port, despite the fact that they may only be at the port for a very short amount of time. Due to time pressures, the risk of not being able to find a contractor in time to fill the cylinders in the event of leakage is one that could jeopardise the safety of the entire ship when it is time to set sail.
Continuously monitoring the cylinders with ultrasonic level sensors that utilises IoT can avoid this, because the network contribution. Using IoT enables the advance notification of the crew and shore based services whilst at sea. Therefore, preparations to address the issues can be made prior to docking to ensure the issues are resolved given the minimum time they have.
Although the implementation of the IMO SOLAS FSS and ISO 14520 codes with continuous monitoring and IoT could drive up costs of purchasing and installation, the long-term savings and benefits far outweighs the initial cost.
But for this to work seamlessly, there must be a standardisation so that the data that is received by shore-based operators from the vessel, is understood and actioned upon as per the IMO regulations. As shown by a new paper from DNV GL standardisation can enable the effective collection, storage, exchange, analysis and use of data, while contributing to improved data quality and sensor reliability in the maritime industry.
Continuous improvements and maintenance are required of the fire safety systems at nuclear power plants due to the safety critical nature of the site. Incidents in nuclear power plants around the world have continued to demonstrate the vulnerability of safety systems to fire and its effects. The potential danger from an accident at a nuclear power plant is exposure to radiation to the people in the vicinity of the plume from the cloud and particles deposited on the ground, inhalation of radioactive materials and ingestion of radioactive materials. It is for this reason that the safety demands of the Atomic Energy Authority must be met.
The Dangers Presented by Fire
The International Atomic Energy Authority state clearly in the Fire Safety in the Operation of Nuclear Power Plants standards that the effects of a single failure in fire safety systems, such a system not performing its required function, can be detrimental.
One example of this is the Chernobyl disaster a catastrophic nuclear accident which cost approximately 18 billion roubles and had a huge human impact. In this disaster a combination of inherent reactor design flaws, together with the reactor operators arranging the core in a manner contrary to the checklist for the test, eventually resulted in uncontrolled reaction conditions that flashed water into steam generating a destructive steam explosion and a subsequent open-air graphite fire. This fire produced considerable updrafts for about 9 days, that lofted plumes of fission products into the atmosphere, with the estimated radioactive inventory that was released during this very hot fire phase, approximately equal in magnitude to the airborne fission products released in the initial destructive explosion. Over thirty years later and investment into the site is still required, with Flamgard Calidair providing fire shut off dampers to the Chernobyl, as part of an €1.5 billion multinational engineering project.
With fires at nuclear power plants still occurring, such as the 2017 power plant explosion at Flamanville, deemed “very serious” by industry experts, the call for advanced technology is of most importance. A significant technical issue led to a blast in the turbine hall in the unit, although there was no radioactive leak, a thorough investigation is being conducted into the concerning event.
Going Above & Beyond Standard Compliance
Coltraco Ultrasonics have met this demand with their provision of continuous monitoring to the gaseous extinguishing systems at power plants, offering a means to go above and beyond existing standards. The International Atomic Energy Authority rigorous standards are clear in their demands:
“2.13: Effective procedures for inspection, maintenance and testing should be prepared and implemented throughout the lifetime of the plant with the objective of ensuring the continued minimization of fire load, and the reliability of the installed features for detecting, extinguishing and mitigating the effects of fires.”
Three of the fire protection measures stated in the standards that should be regularly inspected, maintained and tested are:
- passive fire rated compartment barriers and structural components of buildings, including the seals of barrier penetrations
- a supply and distribution pipe
- gaseous and dry powder fire extinguishing system
Safesite Solutions: the future is 24/7 constant monitoring
Faced with this problem, a leading UK Nuclear family approached Coltraco Ultrasonics in 2003 and commissioned the first Permalevel®. Focused on continued advancement of safety technology, Coltraco have now developed the Permalevel® Multiplex, a fixed fire suppression monitoring device, designed for permanent contents verification. The Permalevel® Multiplex is designed to ensure that fire suppression systems are always fully operational and that no accidental discharge has occurred, which could affect the effectiveness of the overall fire protection system in the event of a fire at a nuclear power plant.
The application of the Permalevel® reaches further, with customers using this equipment in alternate specialist and confidential manners to ensure safety in the station. With guaranteed systems operations, adaptability for purpose, 24/7 remote access to the systems status, an interruptible power supply and remote real-time monitoring, the Permalevel® offers the efficiency that is now a requirement at nuclear energy sites. The likes of the Atomic Energy Authority asked Coltraco Ultrasonics to tailor make them a solution to constantly monitor a special application using the Permalevel® Single Point for over 10 years.
The Portascanner® 520 is the most mathematically accurate device available providing precise data concerning leak locations and aperture. It is unrivalled in its precision, non-invasive methodology and ease of use, and is the first unit of its kind to be available for a holistic approach to fire safety in complement to Coltraco’s range of equipment for testing fire extinguishing systems.
It is perfectly positioned to work alongside Door Fan testing in order to meet the total requirements for fire safety regulations and ensure the continuous fire protection of rooms using Clean Agent Fire Suppression systems. As Door Fan Testing has been proven to be a reliable and trusted method of room testing by industry experts, it is expected that its dominance shall continue in the near future. The immediate use of the Portascanner® lies in its improvement of the final stage of ultrasonic room integrity testing – the search for leak sites in the case of a leakage excess – for which it can vastly improve accuracy and operational efficiency. A device such as this has never been used before in this industry, and is the first to place emphasis directly on this important aspect of room integrity testing.
There is a clear trend toward including fire suppression in newer units, but with systems, comes the requirement of maintenance. The assumptions in the installation, commissioning and maintenance of gaseous extinguishing systems are that they are highly pressurized and thus risk leaking and discharging, hence why annual inspections are required.
Large wind companies, such as E.ON, have now begun investing in both in-house and third party operations and maintenance, driven by safety and quality concerns. Inspection should include an evaluation that the extinguishing system continues to provide adequate protection for the risk. This is essential under ISO 14520 where gaseous extinguishing systems have to be designed in relation to the discharging agent hold-time (if the room cannot hold the agent because of leaks the agent will disperse and not extinguish the fire) and discharging agent peak pressure (if the pressure is too high for partition walls or suspended ceilings they will be blown apart or damaged and possibly destroying the room integrity). However, routine maintenance is liable to be overlooked or given insufficient attention by the owner of the system.
ARE ANNUAL CHECKS SUFFICIENT IN RISKY ENVIRONMENTS?
Given that offshore wind parks require huge investments and are difficult to reach in the event of a fire, an emergency automatic fire extinguishing systems is a must for insurance cover. But what if the suppression systems that are installed in the turbines to protect life and infrastructure do not release on actuation? Gaseous extinguishing/suppression systems are installed to protect against special hazards in critical infrastructure as their key objective. They deliver the infrastructural resilience that wind turbines require. If it is a known fact that there is a long response time to wind turbine fires, then it is unacceptable that the dynamic suppression systems are left unattended 364 days a year.
A CALL FOR CONSTANT MONITORING OF WIND TURBINES
There is a call for remote fire alarms in the turbines due to the lack of easy fire servicing stations, so why not also for the gaseous systems? Why have an alarm system to alert fire services of the fire if the protection system cannot secure the nacelle? A dynamic system needs monitoring. The reality is that gaseous systems are checked for contents annually because they are pressurized and anything that is dynamic offers risk of loss of contents, but this fails to deal with the probability of discharge or leakage for the 364 days per annum in the interim between certification checks.
Gaseous extinguishing/suppression systems are installed to protect special hazards in critical infrastructure as their key objective. If the hazard is special and the infrastructure critical then this is the case for the constant monitoring of the suppression systems that aim to deliver the protection of them.
Coupled to this is a complete lack ultrasonic room integrity testing after the gaseous system has been installed. As buildings age or their internal use is changed leak sites develop. If the gas cannot be “held” in the room on discharge during a fire event the probability of its suppression diminishes in direct proportion to the size of the leak sites. Room integrity tests are imperative for the determination of both the Hold-Time and the Peak Pressure needed for successful fire suppression.
The level of leakage is carefully monitored in order to ensure the correct agent concentration is achieved; room integrity must be ‘tight’ enough to ensure sufficient retention time according to NFPA Standards or ISO 14520, yet remain ‘loose’ enough to prevent enclosure damage at discharge. The presence of undesired and unregulated leak sites reduces room integrity and will hence dramatically impact the Hold Time and Peak Pressure, placing room contents and potentially wall structures at risk. It is accepted that in wind turbines vibration can loosen connections while dirt, dust, and temperature extremes are known to cause unwarranted discharge. Additionally, openings in the turbine housing significantly inhibit achieving the designated agent concentration. Devising a solution to overcome these challenges can add significantly to the weight in the turbine.
Industries across the world use transformers across their facilities. These transformers come in a wide variety. It is imperative to check the oil levels inside to ensure they run smoothly and increase the long-term operation by improved maintenance. Testing oil levels is difficult to achieve traditionally. But today, ultrasonic technology enables non-destructive testing to be conducted by testing from the exterior, non-invasively.
The Safesite® solution is Portalevel® MAX INDUSTRIAL, the world leading handheld ultrasonic liquid level indicator. The likes of utilities companies and hydro from London to USA to the Middle East are using this product to solve their needs and enhance their maintenance measures.
Transformers are used in electric power transmission and distributions and are devices that transfer electric power at different voltage levels. The main components within the transformers are the core and windings which are oil immersed. An oil conservator and Buchholz relay is also commonly found to monitor oil levels. Their combined function accommodates expansion and contraction of the oil in the main tank due to temperature changes or fault and also to provide audible alarms when the oil level falls below the minimum due to any leakages.
As transformers age, they become more likely to lose internal oil. It is important for oil levels in the transformer main tanks to be full, as they act as an insulator and allows the transformers to function efficiently. For transformers that are not fitted with an oil conservator or Buchholz relay, few means of oil level inspection exist and traditional methods include inspection by opening the lid of the transformer.
Portalevel MAX application 1
Application – issues with traditional inspection methods: When the lid is opened, the insulating oil is exposed to the moisture in the atmosphere and will increase the rate of oil deterioration causing the life of insulating oil to shorten. Shortened life spans lead not only to more frequent oil changes, but also significant downtime to the system when an oil change is conducted. Moisture in oil accelerates oxidation which results in the formation of acids and contributes to the formation of sludge. Over time, the sludge settles on the windings and the inside structures causing transformer cooling to be less efficient and an overall increase in transformer temperature which lowers its efficiency. Therefore, traditional methods of oil inspection inside transformers are not only time consuming and cumbersome, they also contribute directly to increased maintenance costs.
Solution: The Portalevel MAX INDUSTRIAL will be a safe, efficient and reliable solution to inspect oil levels in transformers non-invasively, typically in transformers that have no means of external oil indication. With the Portalevel MAX Transformer, oil level inspection can be done routinely without opening the lid of the transformer and thus prevent unwanted moisture from being absorbed by the oil which deteriorates the oil.
Results: This practice is capable of prolonging the life span of the transformer oil whilst reducing the cost incurred from frequent oil changes and significant downtime when a fault develops as a result of low oil levels or poor oil conditions.
Background Issue: High voltage transformer and switch gear units are often designed to be submerged in oil which act as an insulator, making sure any technicians working on the units are not at risk of potentially fatal shocks. As such, it is critical to know that the oil is still present and at a suitable level, before any maintenance or access to these units is undertaken.
Solution and Results: Many companies around the world are beginning to use the Portalevel MAX for checking the oil levels in Transformer & Switch Gear units. Since this equipment can non-invasively check the presence from the outside of the tanks, technicians can operate safely and with confidence.
The Portalevel MAX INDUSTRIAL is an invaluable tool that has helped customers worldwide reduce their annual maintenance costs and contribute to a more efficient servicing routine.
By starting with the numbers and mathematics of gaseous extinguishing systems, Coltraco are leading the way in the fire industry.
31˚C - CO2’s critical point: the temperature at which CO2 turns totally from liquid to gas.
CO2 is permanently under 720 psi or 49 bar of pressure ie nearly 50 times atmospheric pressure (by comparison a cup of water at sea level exists at 1 bar or 14.5 psi). Its state changes under increased temperatures to one that is neither a liquid nor a gas.
50-55˚C - critical points of FM-200® and Novec™1230 (turning from liquid to gas).
Gases under pressure are often effectively considered by the industry as single and passive cylinder columns of solid material from the perspective of their monitoring following installation. Whereas being under pressure and constantly changing under temperature they should be considered as active and dynamic systems requiring constant monitoring. These are not passive systems therefore; they are dynamic ones, and all dynamic systems under pressure need constant monitoring.
14520 - the ISO standard regarding fire systems from installation with regard to room integrity through to maintenance and inspection of contents
ISO 14520-1:2015(E) specifically states in 22.214.171.124 Contents Indication that - Means shall be provided to indicate that each container is correctly charged and in 126.96.36.199 At least annually, or more frequently as required by the authority, all systems shall be thoroughly inspected and tested for proper operation by competent personnel. Under ISO 14520 where gaseous extinguishing systems have to be designed in relation to the discharging agent hold-time (if the room cannot hold the agent because of leaks the agent will disperse and not extinguish the fire) and discharging agent peak pressure (if the pressure is too high for partition walls or suspended ceilings they will be blown apart or damaged and possibly destroying the room integrity). At the design stage of a fire extinguishing system rooms are tested for room integrity by positively pressurising a room and detecting escaping pressure to verify that the room itself into which the gaseous extinguishant discharges on actuation can both hold the agent after its discharge and hold its pressure on actuation. The fire system is then installed and commissioned. However, over the next 10 years no further tests are made on ultrasonic room integrity testing and the cylinders merely hydrostatically tested to ensure they can cope with their design pressure limits. How can one be sure therefore that on actuation the room will hold the discharged agent to extinguish the fire and its partitions and ceilings are capable of withstanding the pressure of the agent on discharge?
5% - loss of agent above which it is deemed unacceptable in liquefied gaseous extinguishing system and thus requires refilling. 10% - loss of pressure above which it is deemed unacceptable in liquefied gaseous extinguishing systems and thus requires refilling
The risks of accidental discharge or leakage is recognised within the regulations. BS EN ISO 14520 -1:2015(E) reasonably assumes that the execution of its provisions is entrusted to people qualified and experienced in the specification, design, installation, commissioning, testing, approval, inspection, operation and maintenance of systems and equipment, and who can be expected to exercise a duty of care to avoid unnecessary release of extinguishant. The assumptions in the installation, commissioning and maintenance of gaseous extinguishing systems is that they are highly pressurised but risk leaking and discharging. The regulations that sensibly underpin this assumption aim to identify their leak identification at an interval of every 6 months. Cylinders accidentally discharge. CO2 can cause fatalities if it does. 1% of pressure gauges fail and 25% of valves too. Essentially, it is known in regulations that the gaseous systems leak and need to be maintained. Given that the gaseous systems are designed specifically to the individual need of that room, building e.t.c, then a 5% loss of agent may mean that they would not fully extinguish the fire. What if there are also leak sites in the room? The likelihood of the gaseous system effectively extinguishing the fire gets lower and lower.
188.8.131.52 - The paragraph points from Chapter 5 in the IMO SOLAS FSS Code which details how vessels’ fire extinguishing systems should be checked for leaks
A ships Officers & Crew are not qualified to undertake CO2 servicing as it requires the dis-mantling, weighing and re-installation of the complete system which must be done by a licensed organisation when the ship is alongside. The code states that; “means shall be provided for the crew to safely check the quantity of the fire extinguishing medium in the containers.” To implement the IMO SOLAS FSS code, portable liquid level indicators such as Portalevel™ units are used on-board, allowing the crew to meet the code between servicing
1.5mm - the accuracy which Portalevel® and constant monitoring Permalevel® Multiplex can find the liquid level of agent in cylinders to.
26 seconds – The average test time to identify the liquid level in any liquid gaseous cylinder using the Portalevel® Max.
The UL approved Portalevel Max is designed to inspect the content of Fire Suppression System Cylinders of CO2, FM-200™, Novec 1230, FE-13, FE-25, NAF S III, CEA410, Halons and a range of other extinguishing agents. The device is a quick, accurate and efficient method of inspecting cylinder content. Portalevel® MAX builds on Coltraco Limited’s 30 years’ experience in designing, manufacturing and supporting Ultrasonic Liquid Level Equipment. The unrivalled quality of the Portalevel, have resulted with units operating throughout the world.
0.06mm - the size of leak site able to be detected by Portascanner® 520 in Room Integrity.
Assuming 2 metres of water above the leak of this size, the water flowing through the hole will sufficiently fill 4.64 cans of soft drinks per day.
Using ultrasonic technology this the Portascaner® is able not only to pinpoint precise leak locations, but to determine their leak apertures as small as 0.06mm with a tolerance of +/-0.02mm, making it by far the most accurate device for this function. The Portascanner® also provides an interpretation of the seal for desired locations, labelling them either watertight, weather tight or full leakage site as appropriate. The advantages of being able to accurately detect the exact leak locations and size are self-evident when considered alongside the importance of reaching Peak Pressure for clean agent fire suppression to be effective. The immediate use of the Portascanner® lies in its improvement of the final stage of room integrity testing – the search for leak sites in the case of a leakage excess – for which it can vastly improve accuracy and operational efficiency.
RS232/RS485 - communications capabilities Permalevel® Multiplex offers including dry contacts, 4-20mA relay for constant monitoring of liquid level.
24/7, 365 - continuous monitoring of gaseous systems and the room integrity
Permalevel™ Multiplex, is designed as a fixed 24/7 system to monitor anything from 5 to 700 cylinder level points. It is a modular system and each module will cater for up to 16 level points. The Permalevel™ Multiplex is the first system worldwide that is capable of monitoring the liquid level of critical fire suppression cylinder systems on a constant basis. The unit can be easily installed on new systems or retrofitted to existing systems, and can monitor up to 16 level points simultaneously. The system has a remote display showing the status of each cylinder, as well as the ability to link to remote local alarm or indication method. It can also remote link the status back to any Central Monitoring Station. The Permalevel Multiplex is designed to ensure that fire suppression systems are always fully operational and that no accidental discharge has occurred, which could affect the effectiveness of the overall fire protection system in the event that it is required for use. This allows a facility to have complete confidence that they are fully protected.
0.1mm± - The accuracy tolerance of both the Portagauge® 3 and Portagauge® 4 ultrasonic thickness gauges
Metals corrode and pressure gauges stick. Annex F of ISO 14520 specifically guides our industry as to these risks stating every 6 months the following checks and inspections must be performed: 1) externally examine pipework to determine its condition; replace or pressure test and repair as necessary pipework showing corrosion or mechanical damage; 2) check all control valves for correct manual function and automatic valves additionally for correct automatic function; 3) externally examine containers for signs of damage or unauthorized modification, and for damage to system hoses. The quick, simple and hardy Portagauge ™ 3 allows accuracy of ±0.1mm even on corroded, challenging and some plastic surfaces. It utilizes single echo technology which allows the unit to maintain accuracy even on corroded or challenging surfaces. It is ideal for corrosion, rust or condition inspections and is a highly dependable unit. The Portagauge™ 4 is able to ignore surface coatings such as paint. With easy calibration and no zero-ing required, the Portagauge 4 is ideal for effective and efficient thickness gauging applications
5% – Accuracy tolerance of the Portasonic® handheld ultrasonic clamp-on non-invasive flow meter at flow rates over 0.5m/s
There are a number of issues to be considered in regard to maintenance such as corrosion, flow rate and obstructions that may adversely affect the effectiveness of a fire sprinkler system . Portasonic® is easy to use and is proven to reduce maintenance time and costs. It can also be used for testing fire hydrants. The flow is calculated so that there is always enough to control a fire taking into account the size and construction of the building and the goods stored in it or its use. Accurate flow data provides the chance to make energy saving measures by fine tuning the systems. The Portasonic can measure this through self-adapting proprietary signal quality tracking, allowing the system to automatically optimally adapt to the pipe material and flow profile in both directions. The ability to conduct spot checks on the sprinkler system at mandated intervals ensures the full integrity of a sprinkler system.
1% - the accuracy of the agent weight calculated by the Portasteele® through liquid level identified using Portalevel® compared to weights determined by manual weighing methods
The Portasteele® Calculator is an advanced calculator application, that converts the liquid level height of C02, NOVEC™ 1230 and FM-200® liquefied gaseous extinguishant agent readings taken on an ultrasonic non-destructive liquid level indicator device into the agent weight/mass. Furthermore, the Portasteele® can convert an expected agent weight back to the required liquid level allowing users to anticipate where the level should be.
109 - the number of countries Coltraco has supplied equipment
Integrity is our defining value. Performance is its consequence. Coltraco is experienced and globally renowned.
To extinguish a fire, ships need:
To ensure vessels sail safely these points must be implemented, meaning:
As stated in IMO SOLAS FSS Ch5. 184.108.40.206: “Means shall be provided for the crew to safely check the quantity of the fire extinguishing medium in the containers.” Often this is misunderstood, this code specifically states that the crew must test their extinguishing installations in between the periodic inspection, maintenance and certification. Only having the annual inspection by accredited marine servicing companies is not enough – _the crew must take responsibility for their own fire protection. However, what must be noted is that the crew are often not trained or certified to shut-down, dismantle, weigh and re-install the gaseous cylinders. To overcome this, ships need to test their CO2 systems for contents in-between the annual certification checks by marine servicing companies. Using an ultrasonic liquid level indicator is the only way that the crew can safely test their CO2 without disturbing them. Coltraco Ultrasonics designed the Portalevel® handheld ultrasonic liquid level indicators, because radioactive units were being phased out. If shipping companies implemented the IMO SOLAS FSS codes by testing safely and quickly (just 30-60 seconds per cylinder) by using liquid level indicators and marine servicing companies were able to do their work without allowing for time pressures, then marine safety would be far safer.
The main issue is that without continuous monitoring, a leak could still occur at any point in between tests during a journey, and a crew member is still needed for testing. Research is being carried out by enterprises such as Coltraco Ltd. to create the most comprehensive and safe solution using ultrasonic technology.
It was found that a comprehensive, autonomous continuous monitoring system for the watertight integrity of a ship’s cargo hatches, weathertight doors and other seals is possible to be developed. One that is capable of automatically detecting emerging leak sites, alerting officers and crew to the location and severity of the leak site and logging all data by hatch cover for future review. Coltraco is looking to see this technology fully utilised by 2020, as part of a pioneering wider vessel system integration and shore-based data management. It is becoming clear that UT is developing into an integral component of watertight integrity testing for ship hatch covers in particular, and is best positioned to secure the safety of vessels in the shipping Industry. Ultrasonic readings from hatches / doors / MCTs can also be logged and trended over time which helps increase safety and can also be used for insurance companies. There is more work to be done, and the future of UT must be condition-based monitoring of hatch covers, providing continuous monitoring.
A monitoring system is required for the watertight integrity of important seals capable of automatically detecting emerging leak sites, alerting officers to the location and severity of the leak site and logging all the data from hatch cover tester for future review. Continuous monitoring of this kind has the potential to centralise a vessel’s watertight and airtight integrity into a single alarm system. When used on a warship, such a system would also allow the status of the ship to be transmitted for an analysis and response by supporting vessels.
The future of UT is increasingly moving towards constant and even automatic monitoring of the performance of all types of seals, especially critical ones. Furthermore, in the near future, low power ultrasonic generators will allow submarine crews to easily conduct watertight integrity tests without the risk of alerting enemy vessels to their presence by picking up the ultrasonic noise through the hull.
For a business and property owner, protecting against potentially catastrophic results of fire such as life loss, property damage and loss of assets is a common challenge.
Automatic sprinkler systems are used more than any other fixed fire protection system and over 40 million sprinklers are fitted world-wide each year to deal with this problem.
However, if sprinkler systems are not periodically inspected for mechanical deficiencies, proper function, valve actuation, water flow, sprinkler clearances, etc., the system may not be effective during a fire. Corrosion can cause a sprinkler system to fail due to blockages and failed sprinkler heads.
NFPA 258 provides required inspection, testing and maintenance for a sprinkler system.
One method of flow measurement is wet testing, in which water is sprayed through to prove its compliance, yet this can cause deposits, contamination and blockages.
Coltraco’s Smart Solution – the Portasonic®
In response to customer demands for a non-invasive, non-contaminating and cost-effective solution, Coltraco developed the portable ultrasonic flow meter:Portasonic®.
Safety Of Life At Sea is the critical code we all wish to see implemented. Beyond saving human lives, we protect the vessel then the cargo. Today we take that further to protecting our marine environment and increasing efficiencies. We understand that the Smart Ship can be interpreted as the fully automated and unmanned vessel, but for Coltraco Ultrasonics the Smart Ship is interpreted as a safe ship and that is our priority. Using ultrasonic technology, the Safeship® is achieved by the increased monitoring of the two main causes for vessel loss: sinking and fire. Using our expertise in ultrasonic technology, Coltraco Ultrasonics achieve the Safeship® through the monitoring of watertight integrity testing and gaseous extinguishing systems, benefitting from the continuing and developing technologies of the Internet of Things (IoT).
Using technology that has come to fruition and also in development, ship owners are able to protect their crew, vessels and cargo with Smart Safeship® technologies. This paper argues we can better implement the Smart Ship, existing regulations, and strengthen new ones, thanks to more sensor monitoring technologies which will be linked by the Internet of Things (IoT). The application of the Internet of Things and ultrasound allows the Smart Ship to be achieved here and now, with technology that is implementing and exceed regulations. Continuous monitoring solutions benefit the crew; by being easy to operate, quick, accurate and a better than traditional monitoring techniques, meaning the likelihood of their use and thus protection is much higher. Whilst regulations can be said to drive up costs in the short term, their longer-term impact can save time, costs and improve the industry. Those in the shipping industry must strive towards the Safeship®: holistic protection of their fleet.
Harms made by the fire blazes are far greater and that is the reason fire smothering operators are expanding the market to profit individuals and to ensure them fire episode. Be that as it may, these fire extinguishing systems are additionally causing harms and one must be more specific while picking any of the fire quenching frameworks as opposed to confronting the harm which cause them to lose a considerable measure of important things. There are number of operators accessible with changing characteristics and properties around the world. Consciousness of each kind of material is vital in light of the fact that for everything there is an alternate sort of operator is requires keeping the fire from spreading.
Among the most recent fire-dousing specialists, the favored one is FM 200 fire suppression system. It is effectively accessible and the properties which make it generally prescribed is that it is a vapid and scentless gas; it is thought to have low impact on the earth as there are some which are thought to be peril for to nature making harm the ozone layer. FM 200 fire suppression systems when used and showered in crisis, it doesn't make any harm the any of the thing. This framework is utilized over the globe as it is calm productive to address the issue and blow the fire in a squint of eye.
These frameworks ought to be observed appropriately and routinely. There level checking is mandatory in light of the fact that on the off chance that it fall then these framework are pointless. They are kept in chambers which are in type of packed gas in condensed frame and they fall with the time. There levels can be checked with the assistance of ultrasonic liquid level indicator which is based on the advanced innovation. They are exceptionally phenomenal pursuers and give results in standard interim. They are exceptionally valuable since they don't require any manual working and thus they are diminishing the quantity of work.
These liquid level indicators are best since they are recording every one of the information in the PC framework. They are additionally having caution framework which will ring up when there is a levels fall. These ultrasonic gadgets are exceptionally helpful and are supporting in numerous different things while giving the precise outcomes and profiting the business. They are effortlessly accessible in the market and can be obtained from online store with great quality.
Interviee with CEO Dr Carl Hunter.
“Given both the crew lives and cargo at stake, it seems unfathomable that these systems are not permanently monitored rather certified just once a year, particularly since it is a regulatory obligation to ensure that crew are in a position to check these,” Hunter says. Safety of Life at Sea’s (SOLAS) International Fire Safety Systems (FSS) code states that “means shall be provided for the crew to safely check the quantity of the fire extinguishing medium in the containers”.
It can be argued that the existence of regulation (such as that set by the the IMO and other authorities) guides – and occasionally curbs – the direction taken by the free market. This then means that the current state of the market, where ‘price is king’ is either due to unwillingness on the part of the regulators to create an environment where safe engineering is rewarded or because the industry itself is unaware of new technology that will help them meet both the spirit and letter of the regulation.
The fact of the matter is that technologies exist right now that can easily and accurately monitor everything from gases under pressure to liquefied contents and corrosion of pipework. The traditional method of using a cylinder pressure gauge (located at the meeting point of valve and neck of a pressurised cylinder) is both obsolete and impractical – especially when cost cutting may result in use of minimally-compliant gauge mechanisms.
Technologies will soon exist that will offer devices that monitor both liquid content and gas pressure safely from the external sides of the cylinder rather than within it. This means that crew will be able to monitor the contents and then calculate the mass/weight of the liquefied extinguishant. By measuring the pressure of the gas on top of the liquefied extinguishant they can can assess the pressure of an Inert gas (which is in an entirely vaporous form) to ensure that the cylinder is primed to perform when needed.
Having systems that operate transparently will work not just to convince a vessel owner that his asset is in good hands, but also to reassure the crew that their safety is taken seriously by both – their employer and the marine servicing company.
Its portfolio boasts 11 different model types of Portalevel brand liquid level indicators including Portascanner (which uses ultrasound to test the integrity of confined spaces and can detect leak sites as small as 0.06mm) and Portagauge (which uses ultrasound to test the internal and external corrosion on pipework and cylinder wall thickness to an accuracy of +/-0.1mm). “We can monitor these 24/7 with the fixed, data-logging and autonomous monitoring system, Permalevel Multiplex & Permalevel Single Point,” says Hunter. “Signals from these fixed monitoring sites can be monitored centrally on the bridge and in the ship’s technical office concurrently. We see a day when products and systems will be designed that will monitor gas vapour above the liquid level and inert gases too.”
One of the sciences being harnessed by innovators in the fire safety sector is that of Ultrasound: i.e. acoustic (sound) energy in the form of waves of high frequency that are above the human audible range. Although the shipping world merely uses it as a tool to gauge thickness, it has seen far more varied use across military, medical and industrial fields.
Sound is, in itself, vibrations that propagate as a mechanical wave or pressure and transmit through solid, liquid or gaseous mediums. Coltraco is one of a number of companies using these fundamental physical principles to design and manufacture products and systems that can be used by fire engineers and their customer installations. Ultrasound is merely sound beyond our audible range. Dolphins and whales can communicate at sea over long ranges as sound travels more efficiently through liquids than air. We use this principle to identify that difference in a cylinder containing liquefied agent. Consider ones ears as ”the receiver” and ones mouth as the “transmitter”. Sound will arrive at ones ears at different times. The reason though that we hear a unitary sound is that our brain processes it to one. This is what we do by processing the returning ultrasound. In the air bats navigate by airborne ultrasound. We can do the same for contents and room integrity monitoring in the fire industry.
By utilising a sensor which acts as a transceiver, an ultrasonic measuring device is capable of detecting liquid levels within any single-skinned container through transmitting an ultrasonic pulse and analysing the strength of the returned signal to determine the level of contents. As sound behaves differently in air and liquid, so will the strength of the returned signal be different in the liquid allowing us to identify the level of contents accurately. Similarly, leaks can be effectively detected through an ultrasound generator placed in an enclosure and an ultrasound receiver outside of the enclosure to measure the amount of ultrasound that leaks from the seals and cracks which has the potential to affect the ability for a clean agent to extinguish fires due to the retention time it needs upon discharge to function at its best. Taking these collected data and transmitting them wirelessly over TCP/IP, true remote monitoring of your fire suppression systems is possible anywhere around the world.
Coltraco manufacture the portable liquid level indicator Portalevel™ used by fire technicians for the contents checking of CO2, old Halons, FM-200™ and NOVEC™ 1230.
Carnival Cruises chose Coltraco to supply their Fleet with the UL Listed and ABS approved Portalevel® MAX Marine in order to address the issue of the ungoverened space. The Portalevel Max Marine in under 30 seconds using Portalevel® MAX with one person, instead of the traditional 15 minutes with two people labouriously weighing. Using ultrasonic technology - to pinpoint the liquid level of suppressant agent in the cylinders of the fire extinguishing system- testing is made quicker and easier. The Portalevel® MAX Marine is designed primarily for maritime applications where either third party approved service companies or the vessels’ crew themselves inspect large fire suppression systems which can have up to 600 cylinders. The ease of operation in comparison to weighing increases the ability of the servicing/crew to make more regular and more frequent checks, thus improving fire safety management system (SMS) onboard. The ABS Product Design Assessment certification categorises the Portalevel ® Max as a practical and effective unit which complies with international standards.
A ship’s gaseous extinguishing system typically comprises between 200 and 600 cylinders each containing 45KG of CO2 under high 720 psi/ 49 bar pressure. (Other suppressant clean agents such as FM-200® and Novec™1230 are becoming more widely used.)
How are we failing to protect the crew with these gaseous extinguishing systems?
Because gaseous extinguishing systems are highly pressurised, the risk of leaking and discharging is accepted as part of their use and this is shown in the regulations that demand their upkeep.
IMO SOLAS & FSS Code Chapter 220.127.116.11 - “Means shall be provided for the crew to safely check the quantity of the fire extinguishing medium in the containers.”
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 also know that occasionally marine “servicing companies” unintentionally leave it disabled.
Why is this the case?
Most marine servicing companies only have 4 hours on a vessel in a port to test up to 600 cylinders. It is known that it takes 15 minutes for a 2 person team to shutdown, dismantle and weigh a single CO2 cylinder, which is equal to 16 cylinders in 4 hours. Yet despite this, every CO2 cylinder on the vessel receives a “tested and certified sticker” and the marine CO2 system is certified and a certificate is issued.
As well as this, any vessel with a gaseous extinguishing system needs to consider 3 factors:
What measures should be taken?
“Fire protection on board is not unlike fire protection in buildings: If a fire breaks out and is not quickly brought under control, all that is left is a ruined shell, fit only for the wrecking ball. In turn, in the case of ships, a total write-off. To better protect the cargo on container ships, with a value running into many millions, it makes sense to modernize the on-board facilities for containing and extinguishing fires.”
There is a call to respond to regulations with a rigorous attitude, to go above and beyond, to provide security of life and infrastructure.
Currently, there is a failure to protect the lives of the crew. Ensuring the safety of the crew is not an option, it is a requirement.
What is the solution?
The crew must take responsibility for its own fire protection.
Using an ultrasonic liquid level indicator is the only way that the crew can safely test their CO2 without disturbing them. Coltraco Ultrasonics designed the Portalevel® MAX Marine & Portamarine® ultrasonic liquid level indicators, as radioactive units were being phased out. If shipping companies implemented the IMO SOLAS FSS codes by testing safely and quickly (just 30-60 seconds per cylinder) by using liquid level indicators and marine servicing companies were able to do their work without allowing for time pressures, then vessels would be far safer.
Solutions for the monitoring of the vessels gaseous extinguishing system exist:
Coupled to this is, is the danger of a lack Room Integrity testing after the gaseous system has been installed. As vesselsage or their internal use is changed leak sites develop. If the gas cannot be “held” in the confined space on discharge during a fire event the probability of its suppression diminishes in direct proportion to the size of the leak sites. Clean agents are designed to operate in limited spaces where there is a need for speed of suppression given the asset risk and where the space is occupied by people. They must be easily maintained in-situ, non-flammable and non-toxic. They must comply with NFPA 2001 standards demanding fast discharge in 10 seconds and fire extinguishing within 30 seconds, delivering confidence to the operator that it delivers “best fire safety practise”.
Compartmentation Integrity – complementing Door Far Testing
It is here that the value of the Portascanner™ Watertight Integrity Testing Indicator is evident. This unit is a small, hand-held ultrasonic device featuring dual Decibel & Linear readings in the display and widely used in Shipping, Naval vessels, Submarines and Offshore Oil & Gas Platforms. Moreover, the unit is supported by regional Service Stations in USA, UK, Dubai, India and Singapore. Using ultrasonic technology this device is able not only to pinpoint precise leak locations, but to determine their leak apertures as small as 0.06mm with a tolerance of +/-0.02mm, making it by far the most accurate device for this function. The Portascanner™ also provides an interpretation of the seal for desired locations, labelling them either watertight, weather tight or full leakage site as appropriate. The advantages of being able to accurately detect the exact leak locations and size are self-evident when considered alongside the importance of reaching Peak Pressure for clean agent fire suppression to be effective. In a case where there is too much leakage in a room (and thus insufficient Hold Time), the Portascanner™ 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.
It is perfectly positioned to work alongside Door Fan testing in order to meet the total requirements for fire safety regulations and ensure the continuous fire protection of rooms using Clean Agent Fire Suppression systems. As Door Fan Testing has been proven to be a reliable and trusted method of room testing by industry experts, it is expected that its dominance shall continue in the near future. The immediate use of the Portascanner™ lies in its improvement of the final stage of room integrity testing – the search for leak sites in the case of a leakage excess – for which it can vastly improve accuracy and operational efficiency. Portascanner™ 520 is a hand-held product designed to identify leak-sites in Protected Spaces.
We know that the most important factor for our customers is to minimise risk. In fast paced businesses, downtime can be costly, financially, reputationally, and for the maintenance of safety practices. For safety critical environments, we understand that it is essential that the equipment used to improve protection must be fully operational at all times. So, take the chance to transfer the maintenance risk of your new Coltraco Ultrasonics equipment back to the original manufacturer with the Portacare® package.
What is Portacare® ?
What is the CCC?
How can you cut risk with the Portacare® Package?
Know your upfront unit cost plus maintenance cost when buying new equipment. The package includes:
Portacare® is designed for customers using liquid level testing, seal integrity and condition monitoring equipment for in high value applications such as power plants, data centres and naval vessels. Coltraco Ultrasonics is a leading British designer and manufacturer of innovative ultrasonic technology operating in 109 countries across multiple markets such as the offshore, marine, fire, renewable markets, for over 30 years. www.coltraco.com/news.