How can ultrasonic technology assist safety in the mining industry?

Fires and explosions pose a constant threat to the safety of miners and to the productive capacity of mines. Mine fires and explosions traditionally have ranked among the most devastating industrial disasters. The prevention and control of fire and explosion in mines is fundamental. On a mine site, fire hazards may occur in and around process plants, underground conveyors, static and mobile plants, draglines, workshops, substations, monitored control rooms and switch rooms. All mines have highly expensive and mission critical equipment that typically operate day and night under extreme hostile conditions, in vast, remote and difficult to access environments, especially on underground equipment. In many cases non-gaseous and gaseous fire suppression systems are the preferred systems installed to protect the high value assets, safeguard operators and processes so as to guarantee business continuity. However, it can be argued that the competitive nature of the free market places great pressure on the fire industry to deliver systems which minimally comply with, rather than exceed, the regulations. Too often fire protection is seen as a cost - not a vital investment for business continuity. High value assets such as critical mining infrastructure, may have catastrophic results in the event of downtime or shutdown due to fire. The risk far exceeds the risk of choosing minimal compliance, instead of advanced real-time monitoring systems. The cost or damage to reputational integrity as a result of this downtime far exceeds the cost of integrating a real-time monitoring system.

CASE STUDY: ultrasonic technology offers quick, safe & reliable solutions

The importance of ultrasonic technology to the mining industry has been demonstrated by its use thus far. NRG Energy have been using the Portalevel™ Max since 2015 at the Morgan Town Generation Plant in Morgantown, Charles County in Maryland, US. The Morgan Town Plant is a coal powered power station based in Maryland. NRG own the USA’s largest and more diverse power generation competitive portfolio. NRG are dedicated to smart and reliable energy sourcing, and emission reductions although coal is a significant part of the electricity generation. The Portalevel™ Max is an example of the technologically advanced techniques that the company are implementing to lead the way in safe and sustainable coal sourcing. After witnessing fire service experts undertaking ultrasonic liquid level indication in just minutes, they were keen to change from their previous method of weighing. As a safety critical asset, the Morgan Town Plant saw the necessity in investing into their fire safety. This was the same as at the Vales Point Power Station at Delta, Australia. The power station is at the southern end of lake Macquarie. This power station was built in the 1960’s as a four-unit station, but now operates two 660 MW generating units. The Power Station is owned and operated by Power International, with the capacity of around 1,320 megawatts, providing 24 hours electricity. In 2013 they bought Coltraco Ultrasonics’ Portagauge® 3 thickness gauge for testing normal structure and stainless steel.

How to inspect liquefied gaseous systems with ease and speed

Utilising ultrasound technology, Coltraco Ultrasonics have been manufacturing a range of ultrasonic portable liquid level indicators known as the Portalevel®. The Portalevel® MAX is the latest generation of the Portalevel® line and is designed to provide enhanced speed, operation and performance, especially for high intensity testing requirements and works brilliantly for testing cylinder contents of fixed fire extinguishing systems like CO2, NOVEC™ 1230, FM-200™ and other clean agents. The device has UL, RINA and ABS Type Approval, building further on their history of over 27 years manufacturing this equipment and showcasing the commitment to the marine and shipping industry. The Coltraco Safesite™ technology suite includes Portalevel ® MAX; a “world leading handheld ultrasonic liquid level indicator for testing most common extinguishing agents”; the Portasteele™ Calculator tablet based app converting the liquid level into agent weight/mass with ease, simplicity and ability to log the results; and the Permalevel ® Multiplex for 24/7, 365 autonomous, continuous monitoring of fire suppression systems, with remote relay, remote diagnostics and alarm capability to alert in case of agent leak/discharge.

What is the Portascanner® 520?

The Portascanner® 520 is an Ultrasonic Room Integrity Tester which accurately and efficiently complements door fan testing. The simple system locates a leak site via visual and audible readings and identifying its extent with a definitive numerical result. The 520 can test leaks as small as 0.06mm.

The Portascanner® 520 is the most accurate unit of its type, locating a leak site via visual ad audible readings and suppling a definitive numerical results. The unit can test leaks as small as 0.06mm, which is unparalleled accuracy compared to the puffer test technology which is a purely visual inspection. The smoke puffer tests also involves evacuating a building or room whereas the Portascanner® 520 is completely clean and damage free. 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 the first of its kind, intuitive to use, non-invasive, and consequently, is of immediate use to the Fire Industry.

It is lightweight, fast and easy to use, allowing leak site detection to increase its operational efficiency and speed to a degree that has never been seen thus far in the Fire Industry. This method increases safety, by allowing the user unparalleled leak detection. This leads to the user having superior control of the agent hold time and peak pressure, effectively guaranteeing the identification and extent of leak sites. The unit is also lightweight and hand-held, weighing only 419 grams. The unit can also be used as a pre-surveying inspection tool, prior to bringing in full door fan test equipment.

Benefits of the Portasonic®

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.  The NFPA has a concern that corrosion can cause a sprinkler system to fail due to blockages and failed sprinkler heads. Trapped water from hydrostatic testing, combined with humid air supplied constantly by the air compressor creates the perfect conditions for corrosion. The NFPA states that 73% of dry systems have significant corrosion issues. According to the NFPA, corrosion can cause inhole leaks, temporary shutdowns, loss of property and personal injury if the sprinklers fail to release. With some systems between 30-40 years old, weakening and corrosion is a major issue. One of the problems that can come from a lack of maintenance and corrosion are nozzle blockages. Nozzle blockages are a serious safety risk because they have serious impact on the functionality of the system which thus increases the risk of an uncontrollable fire. The HSE have reported that no matter what material the pipework is constructed in, the impact will still occur. When tested with the Hazen-Williams formula, steels performance can drop by over 50% for pipes that were in service between 4 and 40 years.  One method of flow measurement is wet testing, where water is sprayed through to prove its compliance, yet this can cause deposits, contamination and blockages. An example of a pipe with VdS Class III corrosion; Considerable corrosion and deposits the complete pipe array or parts of it must be replaced, is shown below.

Portasonic® is easy to use and is proven to reduce maintenance time and costs. It can also be used for testing fire hydrants. Sprinkler heads are spaced, so that if one or more operate there is always sufficient flow of water. 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 device to automatically optimally adapt to the pipe material and flow profile in both directions.

This ultrasonic flow meter Ideal for the measurement of flows in clean, non-aerated fluids such as water, water/ glycol and oils in full pipes from ½” to 180” (12 to 4570 mm) diameter can be measured and the ultrasonic signal penetrates all common metal and plastic pipe materials.

Key Features of Ultrasonic Flow Meter

  • Accurate flow measurement from outside of a pipe with clamp-on sensor
  • Measures, totalizes and transmits flow in both directions
  • Simple set-up and ease of operation with digital processing
  • Larges display with user-friendly calibration menu
  • Suited for a wide range of industrial applications
  • No pressure drop, no moving parts, no leaks and no contamination
  • Long term reliability and battery life, light weight, compact and reliable

For further information, download PDF

Why must we continuously monitor gaseous suppression systems?

Continuous monitoring is no longer an option; it is essential for the protection against special hazards in critical infrastructure. 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 deliver the infrastructural resilience our advanced society requires. The assumptions in the installation, commissioning and maintenance of gaseous extinguishing systems is that they are highly pressurised but risk leaking and discharging. ISO 14520 specifically guides our industry as to these risks; In 9.2.1.3 The storage container contents shall be checked at least every six months as follows. : a) Liquefied gases: for halocarbon agents, if a container shows a loss of agent in quantity of more than 5 % or a loss of pressure (adjusted for temperature) of more than 10 %, it shall be refilled or replaced. b) Non-liquefied gases: for inert gas agents, pressure is an indication of agent quantity. If a container shows a loss of agent quantity or a loss of pressure (adjusted for temperature) of more than 5 %, it shall be refilled or replaced. Therefore, at a standards level it is known that gaseous systems can become ineffective through accidental discharge and leakage and thus they do not serve to protect the critical infrastructure in such a case. To know the contents, you need to monitor it, and checking it every 6 months is not monitoring it.

Should we not just constantly monitor all of them and be in full compliance to the regulations and the risks that are so clearly described in our own core standards? If it is known and accepted that these are dynamic systems that are prone to leaking, but they are expected to deliver resilience and protection, then why are they left unattended for 6 months of the year? We would not do the same to an alarm system without monitoring it 24/7, so why are we not monitoring gaseous extinguishing systems? Let us apply 21st century science to a 100 year old issue and be done with it. A dynamic system needs monitoring. The neglect of continuous monitoring of the fundamental protection provided by the gaseous extinguishing systems is to the peril of the lives of occupants of the premises and at the risk of crippling financial loss to the facility comprising the critical infrastructure. To ensure that dynamic gaseous systems are protecting critical infrastructure in a safe and diligent manner, 6 monthly monitoring and maintenance is no longer enough. There is a call for continuous monitoring and this is something that cannot wait any more.

Room Integrity and Compartmentation

Room Integrity is often an overlooked aspect of a clean agent installation whereby it is required that the concentration of the clean agent meets the sufficient “Hold Time” when discharged in a room in order to properly extinguish fires. Achieving this “Hold Time” is largely dependent on the overall leakage in the room otherwise referred to as the “Equivalent Leakage Area” or ELA in the industry. The most common and widely accepted way of determining whether the enclosure achieves the sufficient “Hold Time” for the agent is by carrying a Door Fan Test (DFT). This involves pressurising and depressurising the enclosure to check if it achieves the pass rate and if the enclosure fails the test, the presence of leaks are the common contributors to this failure. The industry introduces various methods to identify these leaks which are then patched up before the DFT is being conducted again. What is an often-neglected fact is that as a buildings age or their internal use is changed, leak sites will begin to develop. If the gas cannot be held in the confined space on discharge during a fire event, the probability of its suppression diminishes in 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 ISO 14520 and 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”.

Despite DFT being a reliable method to determine the “hold time”, methods to locate the leak sites themselves are inaccurate such as the use of smoke pencils or draught testing using the back of a hand. The limitations of the DFT often lie in the fact that the leakage areas are only identified during installation of the clean agent system and make no acknowledgement to the fact that additional leak sites may develop throughout the lifetime of a building.

In the event of fire, a pencil sized hole between compartments size 6m x 6m x 3m would take just 4 minutes before a person would not be able to see their hand due to smoke. If this compartment was a fire escape, there could be a severe threat to life if people cannot escape. Thus it is clear to see why the maintenance of the integrity of the compartments is essential to genuinely aid the safety to human life. As building age or their internal use is changed leak sites develop and the threat to people becomes high Coltraco Ultrasonics have provided a smart solution for quick and easy assurance of compartmentation and leak detection. The proprietary device known as the Portascanner® 520 ultrasonic leak detector uses ultrasonic 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, and is by far the most mathematically proven accurate device for this function.

“Ships sink; fires happen”

Addressing these two main causes of vessel loss are critical, especially when all owners and managers are seeking to reduce risk, cut costs, surge on safety and protect seafarer welfare. 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. 2.1.1.3. 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 owners.

The Portalevel® 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. Innovative methods of inspecting leaking cylinders with ultrasonics, enables identification in under 30 seconds using Portalevel® MAX Marine with one person, instead of the traditional 15 minutes, with two people labouriously shutting down the system, dismantling the cylinders and weighing them. Using ultrasonic technology - to pinpoint the liquid level of suppressant agent in the cylinders of the extinguishing system - testing is quicker and easier. 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. Combined with the Portasteele® Calculator, the weight can be found in just 30 seconds more. It is an advanced calculator application, that converts the liquid level height of C02, NOVEC™ 1230 or FM-200® liquefied gaseous extinguishant agent readings taken on the Portalevel® into the agent weight/mass. There is no other similar alternative to weighing available on the market. Furthermore, the Portasteele® can convert an expected agent weight back to the required liquid level allowing users to anticipate where the level should be. This method also enables recording and downloading of the data, adding value to servicing reports and improving the safety management system for a auditable data trail.

What is in the Firetest® Package?

Portalevel® Max – Liquid Level Indicator

Portalevel® MAX, is a Liquid Level Indicator is designed to non-invasively detect the level of fire suppression agent contained with in a cylinder.

Portasteele® Calculator
The PortasteeleÒ Calculator calculates the fill weight of a fire suppression cylinder. It does this using the fill level determined by our Portalevel® unit. It is the only device available able to calculating fire suppression agent weight.

Portamonitor - Ultrasonic Bearing Indicator

The Portamonitor® identificaties of mechanical faults in bearings within motors, pumps, fans, gearboxes and other rotating machinery applications.  It does this by detecting high frequency stress waves associated with friction and other faults with machinery in poor condition.

Portagauge – Ultrasonic Thickness Gauge

The Portaguage® range is a series of Thickness Gauges designed to accurately test the thickness of metal infrastructure on land and at sea.

PortascannerÒ 520 – Ultrasonic Leak Detector

The Portascanner® 520 consists of two parts, the first is the ultrasound generator which generates a signal of 40 kHz and the second is the ultrasound receiver which picks up signal of this particular frequency. It can identify the exact location of the leak on the enclosure as ultrasound leaks escapes easily from apertures.

Portasonic® – Ultrasonic Flow Meter

Our Portable Non-Invasive Ultrasonic Flow Meter is designed for monitoring flow rates and identifying obstructions within pipes of water sprinkler systems and other clean fluids.

To check out all products in detail, please check out Coltraco Products List

Provide consistent and reliable safety by working with Coltraco Ultrasonics

Too often in the fire industry it feels like the certification is driving the maintenance, with its insurance consequence for the asset owner and service revenue for the contractor, rather than maintenance [for safety sake] driving its consequential certification. The ‘ungoverned space’ is the area in the fire industry where either the regulations or the protecting systems of the critical infrastructure are not effectively providing consistent and reliable safety.

People expect, and rightfully so, that in the event of a fire the extinguishing systems would be in full working order to do just that – extinguish. Given that the gaseous systems are designed specifically to the individual need of that room, building e.t.c, then a leak sites in the room could meant that the comparted area couldn’t withhold the fire. The likelihood of the gaseous system effectively extinguishing the fire gets lower and lower as the protected area becomes larger than the size that the extinguishing system was designed for. This is not a game of chance. The lives of people depend upon it.

Although many in the fire industry work towards meeting better standards, in their experience, Coltraco have numerous concerning anecdotes of non-compliance: systems portrayed and installed by contractors as NOVEC™ 1230 but filled with sand or water… room integrity testing with questionable results and with the room integrity remaining un-monitored after testing.

Technology now exists to improve the reliability of fire suppression systems that affects the safety of all who inhabits the building it protects in an event of fire. Regulations which often govern the quality of fire safety systems installed should hence reflect the latest advancement of technological innovations in its industry in order to uphold fire safety to its highest standards.

Testing the liquefied gaseous extinguishing systems (commonly CO2, sometimes FM-200® or Novec®1230) and also the room integrity into which they are situated, will create a holistic approach to solving the problem of the Ungoverned Space. In order to comply with regulations outlined in the NFPA 2001 and the ISO 14520, regular room integrity tests have to be performed on rooms wanting to install Clean Agent Fire Suppression Systems, in order to ensure the continued effectiveness of non-sprinkler fire suppression

Why understand and maintain fixed fire extinguishing systems?

The catastrophic consequences of fires on board Ro-Ro ships in the last decade, particularly on-board the “Norman Atlantic” in December 2013 and the “Sorrento” in April 2015, have pushed this issue into the limelight. They have encouraged studies from internationally acclaimed bodies such as the International Union of Marine Insurers (IUMI) and DNV GL. These studies confirm that the risk of fire is twice as great on Ro-Ro boats than on many other cargo and passenger vessels. Fire remains the number one cause for port state control detaining ships.  Consequently, the maintenance and proper understanding of a vessel’s fixed fire extinguishing (FFE) systems is critical. These boats, as with any vessel at sea, must act as their own fire-rescue system and be able to tackle on-ship fires in a safe, efficient and self-contained manner. As such, proper understanding and maintenance of FFE are of crucial importance, not just for cargo security and reduced insurance claims, but most fundamentally to protect human life through safe-ship practice.

The FFE systems on-board Ro-Ro vessels typically include CO2 gas cylinders for fire suppression. These large gas cylinders are stored under pressure, and consequently are subject to risk of leakage or accidental discharge; any small change in pressure of a gas cylinder can result in pressure falling below the point at which fire suppression would be effective. Currently, to ensure the effectiveness of these systems and abide by legal requirements, periodic inspections are conducted annually or biennially by an Accredited Service Agent i.e. an external Marine Servicing Company. However, the IMO SOLAS FSS Code also requires inspection of cylinders in between these periodical tests by the vessel’s own onboard crew.

Typical methods for on-ship regular cylinder inspection primarily consists of trained professionals weighing the chosen cylinder, to assess if there has been weight loss due to gas leakage. However, although this method is widely used, it is ultimately unsafe practice, requiring constant handling of tanks in a delicate, high-pressure state, usually at 720psi or approx.50 bar. To tackle this issue, technological advances have been made to create portable ultrasonic liquid level indicators which serve as liquid gaseous inspection equipment. Coltraco Ultrasonics is one such company providing safe, simple, non-invasive monitoring equipment that facilitates regular inspection of FFE gaseous systems. Through use of Ultrasonic Technology, these products are able to accurately and quickly assess the liquid level of CO2 or clean agent (commonly FM-200® or NOVEC™ 1230) suppression systems, in order to identify leakage or accidental discharge.

Now Is The Time To Introduce Smart Technology

To create the Safesite®, more faciliites are moving to increasing sensor remote monitoring 24/7, 365. Fire alarms are largely linked up but there is a gap in the fire extinguishing systems which actually suppress the fire event. Now is the time to introduce smart technology. Permalevel® MULTIPLEX is designed for just this reason to protect aluminium facilities and their personnel. 
Using smart ultrasonic technology, Permalevel® MULTIPLEX continuously monitors fixed fire extinguishing systems for leaking agents, 24/7, 365 days a year. With guaranteed systems operations, adaptability for purpose, 24/7 remote access to the systems status, an interruptible power supply and remote real-time monitoring, Permalevel® MULTIPLEX offers the efficiency that is now a requirement for encompassing protection

More information about this at Coltraco Customer Support

Increase Your Efficiency and Safety With The Portalevel® Max INDUSTRIAL

The desire to live longer and healthier is a pillar of modern life. Hence the demand for healthcare data, advanced therapies and ever quicker reacting cures in the pharmaceutical industry is so high. The UK is at the forefront of the global pharma sector. Health is a crucially important social and economic asset, and in the past 60 years, innovation and technology have driven huge improvements in global health. With the advances in knowledge comes the advances in manufacturing, with pharmaceutical companies manufacturing six times the average company in the UK. The scale of demand and the free market forces the manufacturing process to become smarter. One way to increase efficiencies is to improve the safety and maintenance of plants. Coltraco Ultrasonics are proud to be assisting British companies in the production of life changing medicine.

A British pharmaceutical company - one of the largest in the world - approached Coltraco for an innovative solution to aid their manufacturing process. Coltraco received a request from one of their manufacturing plants in Ireland, which produces active ingredients that are used in drugs to treat cancer, Parkinsons and Depression. At this plant, a mix of ammonia and water is delivered to the site in Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBCs): reusable storage tanks which commonly carry circa 1,040 litres. This ammonia is required at the pharmaceutical plant to breakdown manufacturing by-products before they are then safely incinerated.

Previously, the company had been monitoring the ammonia contents through a physical dip stick measurement on the tank, because of a lack of confidence in the internal IBC monitoring systems. However, the fumes given off by ammonia are irritating and corrosive, and can cause burning to the nose, throat and respiratory tract which poses a severe health risk for the engineers. Opening the top valve for the physical dip stick measurement also creates risk of contamination to the ammonia. For this reason, the pharmaceutical company asked Coltraco to deliver a new way to non-invasively monitor the contents within the IBCs.

A Coltraco Engineer visited the site to conduct technology suitability trials. A survey of several of the IBCs was conducted, and it was noted that some of the containers were partially full or fully empty. From this, the Engineer determined the general range for a full and empty state across 7 of the IBCs (as shown in the table below). Trials conducted by the Engineer indicated that Coltraco has the real opportunity to provide a solution for this application. Because of the flexibility and adaptability of Coltraco Ultrasonics’ current technological range, an indication was given that there was the capability to deliver a lasting and efficient solution to this problem.
Ultrasonics was the solution chosen by Coltraco, who are experts in this technology stream, to be a non-invasive, robust, easy to use avoiding the risk of harm to the site engineers. Coltraco’s equipment is designed to improve safety and best practice, ensuring the equipment used by crew/technicians/engineers to conduct such inspections is accurate and calibrated is a necessary one. For this reason, Coltraco calibrated their Intrinsically Safe Platform to application specific purposes. This was set to – 0 = LIQUID 100 + = Air. The Intrinsically Safe Platform was designed to operate in specific environment where the presence of potentially dangerous gases can be experienced.

The solution offered unparalleled accuracy and clarity of indication: the Portalevel Max Industrial. It provides fast operation with 30 second servicing, is accurate up to the true liquid level of 1.5mm and is Zone 1 ATEX Certified and UL Approved.  The unit requires no input from the on-site engineer apart from the simple application of the sensor to the vessel wall. This protects the operator from the health and safety problems that were presented through manual monitoring, as well as increasing efficiency.

The delivery of a solution to the pharmaceutical company allowed the operators of the plant to safely, quickly and accurately monitor the contents within the ammonia vessels. These vessels are integral to the operation of the plant as a whole. This unit is also cost efficient, reducing the amount of partially empty ammonia cylinders returned before emptying, increasing efficiency, and saving the organisation money over time. The Portalevel Intrinsically Safe builds on Coltraco Ultrasonics’ 30 years’ experience in designing, manufacturing and supporting ultrasonic liquid level indicating (ULLI) equipment, operating in 109 Countries and numerous market sectors and environments. The development program was born out of the desire to further improve Coltraco’s existing 9 Portalevel® ULLI designs and taking on board feedback and opinions of their customers.

Protecting your crew and vessel: using ultrasonics to create a Safeship®

The New Zealand Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) have recently investigated the cause of the 2016 PeeJay V fire and sinking. PeeJay V was a passenger vessel, which at the time of the incident had 53 passengers on board. As a result of the fire and sinking one person suffered smoke inhalation and there was a total loss of the vessel.

The TAIC have concluded that a lack of understanding of the CO2 fixed fire-fighting system contributed to the sinking of the PeeJayV. One of the significant issues was “the CO2 fixed fire-fighting system installed in the engine room could not be fully effective in extinguishing the fire because the space it was protecting could not be fully closed down” and this was partly as a result of the builder and operators of the vessel did not fully appreciate the principles of how the CO2 fixed fire-fighting system operated”.

The TAIC recommended “crew must be fully familiar with and trained in the use of fire-fighting systems on board, otherwise the systems might not be of any use in fighting a fire” which is a key part of the IMO SOLAS Fire Safety Systems (FSS) Ch5. 2.1.1.3: “Means shall be provided for the crew to safely check the quantity of the fire extinguishing medium in the container”. The loss of the PeeJayV has exemplified why it is crucial for the compartmentation of the area protected by fixed fire fighting systems and the liquid level of the gaseous extinguishant  to be regularly and easily tested by the crew.

A lack of understanding and servicing of fixed fire fighting installations can endanger the lives of the crew, vessel and cargo in the event of a fire.  One British manufacturer whose mission is to deliver the Safeship® to prevent PeeJay V  type incidents occurring again is Coltraco Ultrasonics. They are committed to improving safety for people, assets and vessels at sea. They focus on benefitting the crew; designing innovative ultrasonic solutions which the crew will be happy to use by being easy to operate, quick, accurate and a better method to traditional techniques. Thus increasing the likelihood of tests being regularly conducted, in line with regulations and even going above and beyond for more frequent testing. By so doing, the crew will be creating a safer ship.

Ultrasonics is proven to be the quickest, easiest and most efficient method to holistically test compartmentation and liquid level inside fixed fire-fighting installations. The Portascanner® 520 is designed to allow the crew to non-destructively conduct regular compartmentation maintenance, with industry leading accuracy. Accompanying this to holistically test the fixed fire-fighting system is the award winning Portalevel® MAX Marine which uses ultrasound to enable identification in under 30 seconds with one person, instead of the traditional 15 minutes, with two people laboriously weighing. Combined with the MAX Marine, 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

Avoid negligence and work towards creating the Safeship® with Coltraco Ultrasonics.

Coltraco Ultrasonics is a leading British designer and manufacturer of innovative ultrasonic technology operating in 109 countries across the offshore markets for over 30 years. www.coltraco.com/news.

Intersec 2018, Dubai – Fire Safety Show Report

Coltraco Ultrasonics enjoyed a very successful show at Intersec - a world leading fire and security exhibition and conference in Dubai, UAE 21-23 January 2018.

Coltraco’s latest Safesite® fire technologies were exhibited :

  • CO2, FM-200™ & NOVEC™ 1230 Portalevel™ MAX & Calculator – portable fire service team unit converting liquid level contents readings to agent weight
  • Door Fan Testing supplement – Portascanner™ 520 portable unit to test Clean Agent Room Integrity and identify leak sites
  • Easy-use Fire Pump Bearing Monitor– Portamonitor™ – portable unit
  • Clean agent Constant Monitoring System at high-risk critical infrastructure sites – Permalevel™ Multiplex

Click here to contact Coltraco’s sales team for pricing and technical information.

The Sr Sales Manager, Karen Jones and the Head of Marketing & Communications, Clare Hunter joined Coltraco’s Middle East Director, Captain Peter Machado with his Executive Assistant Cazmir. Exhibiting at Intersec strengthened Coltraco’s now well-established relationships with their global Strategic Partners:

  • Capt Peter Machado, Director Middle East
  • Capt Amit, India Fire Safety Partner
  • Dr Khosrow, Iranian Partner
  • Seiji, Japanese Fire Safety Distributor
  • MAB, Pakistan Fire Safety Partners
  • Elcome, UAE ODA Service Centre & Naval GCC Partner
  • Coltraco also built upon distributor discussions to continue developing their Global Network for example with FirePro, UK Permalevel® MULTIPLEX distributor – Interview video coming soon!

Orders for our Safesite® range of fire system servicing solutions – available in the Firetest™ package have already been secured since the exhibition. One prospective customer indeed provided the following lovely feedback:

Coltraco would like to thank their media relationships with the following titles:

  • MDM via Gulf Fire, Asia Pacific Fire and International Fire Protection
  • Hand Media via International Fire Buyer
  • Fire Middle East
  • Kingsinfomedia via Fire & Safety Security
  • Safe Secure
  • Hemming Fire via Firetrade and Industrial Fire Journal
  • Marcus Media via Fire Safety Search
  • Western Business Publishing via Fire & Security Matters

Benefits of the Portascanner® WATERTIGHT

Failure of the hatch-covers can cause damage to the cargo, loss of vessel stability and ultimately, loss of the vessel. Hatches must meet the SOLAS Convention, the Load Line Convention, classification society rules and IMO and ILO Guidelines. Watertight (WT) hatch covers prevent water ingress and cargo damage, preventing the possible loss of stability. Watertight integrity can also prevent seawater spray, which combined with air, may cause significant corrosion of the vessel structure and consequentially a reduction in strength. Therefore, hatches are fitted to ships to maintain watertight integrity and protect the crew, ship and cargo. In the forward 25% of the vessel, watertight integrity is particularly important as this is where sea loads are at their highest.

Most classification societies and P&I Clubs now recommend ultrasound which can be done in any weather states and when the ship is loaded. For example, UK P&I Club, Loss Prevention Department published updated information from the Carefully to Carry Commitment in 2002 about “testing weather-tight integrity of dry cargo vessels’ hatchcovers” identifying the ultrasonic test as best practice. IACS requires anyone carrying out a survey to be qualified but unlike most manufacturers, Coltraco manufactures Portascanner® WATERTIGHT, whose readings cannot include ambient noise. It is always recommended to conduct one test when the hold is empty and another when loading is completed, as this can reveal leaks caused by hogging or sagging. Ultrasonic leak detectors must be class type approved. The Portascanner® Watertight hatch cover testercheck the leaks and watertight integrity of hatch covers, accurately.

How does the Portascaner® Watertight work?

  • Connect the Rod and Headphones to the Receiver and place the Generator into the compartment to be tested.
  • Fix the Generator by the magnet to any metallic surface not far from the seal being inspected.
  •  Switch the Generator ‘Onʼ and all the readings will dramatically increase.
  • Leaving the cover of the seal being tested open and check around the seal to ensure a strong signal is being received at all points.
  • The compartment is then closed and the inspection of the seal begins.
  • If there is a leak or area of weak seal compression readings will increase.
  • By moving the Sensor to where the signal is strongest, the operator can identify the exact location and extent of any leak site and steps can be taken to fix this issue.

Interactive Training Programme

We have developed a programme to educate users (particularly non-native English speakers) quickly and simply on how to use our equipment.

For further information, contact Coltraco Customer Care

What is the Safeship® initiative?

Coltraco Ultrasonics implemented the Safeship® initiative, to promote protecting critical infrastructure at sea. The two main causes of vessel loss are sinking and fire. A lack of proper servicing of watertight and weathertight seals can lead to deterioration which can endanger the ship, cargo and lives of the crew through flooding and the potential of capsizing. Secondly, 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.

As a result, Coltraco designed the FLEETSAFE™: a package of innovative safety tools to combat the above and comply with regulations

  • an ultrasonic watertight integrity tester
  • an ultrasonic thickness gauge
  • a bearing indicator
  • an ultrasonic liquid level indicator
  • a calculator which converts liquid level readings to weight.

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.

To promote the Safeship® Coltraco Ultrasonics have been raising safety awareness and gaining recognition by winning and being nominated for several awards. In 2017 Coltraco won the Seatrade Cruise Award for Supplier of the Year and was nominated for the IHS Markit Safety at Sea Award 2017. Coltraco were also invited to speak at 16 conferences in 2017 to raise safety awareness and to educate, including at the International Maritime Organization, Royal Institution of Naval Architects Smart Ships Conference, IMPA London, Marine Maintenance World Expo and Pacific Sydney. Coltraco Ultrasonics speak at these events to raise their goal of holistic ship safety, in the form of the Safeship®.

The Safeship® initiative has also achieved recognition through engagement in association work such as the Society of Maritime Industries, at the House of Commons in Parliament, Maritime London and the International Maritime Industries Forum seminars and the UK Chamber of Shipping’s Safety Culture Working Group.
Through initiating the Safeship® Coltraco have contributed to safety at sea by building the FLEETSAFE™ capability that can be used easily and safely by the crew and in routine maintenance of the vessel Safety Management System (SMS). This can be in-between the statutory annual maintenance and certification intervals provided by shore-based contractors.

“Ships sink; fires happen”

Addressing these two main causes of vessel loss are critical, especially when all owners and managers are seeking to reduce risk, cut costs, surge on safety and protect seafarer welfare. 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. 2.1.1.3. 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 owners.

The Portalevel® 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. Innovative methods of inspecting leaking cylinders with ultrasonics, enables identification in under 30 seconds using Portalevel® MAX Marine with one person, instead of the traditional 15 minutes, with two people labouriously shutting down the system, dismantling the cylinders and weighing them. Using ultrasonic technology - to pinpoint the liquid level of suppressant agent in the cylinders of the extinguishing system - testing is quicker and easier. 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. Combined with the Portasteele® Calculator, the weight can be found in just 30 seconds more. It is an advanced calculator application, that converts the liquid level height of C02, NOVEC™ 1230 or FM-200® liquefied gaseous extinguishant agent readings taken on the Portalevel® into the agent weight/mass. There is no other similar alternative to weighing available on the market. Furthermore, the Portasteele® can convert an expected agent weight back to the required liquid level allowing users to anticipate where the level should be. This method also enables recording and downloading of the data, adding value to servicing reports and improving the safety management system for a auditable data trail.

Fires in wind turbines, nuclear plants, ships… where next?

The risk of fire is prevalent across all safety critical and high value assets. People’s lives are endangered, infrastructure damaged and companies’ reputations decimated if the fire fighting systems do not extinguish the fire. A quick news round up of 3 fire incidences highlights the need for better maintenance, inspection and continuous monitoring of both the fixed fire extinguishing system and the room integrity.

1.Looking back to wind turbine fire in shadow of Saga nuclear plant, Japan

A wind turbine at the Kushizaki power plant in Karatsu, Saga Prefecture, is on fire with black smoke pouring out on the afternoon of Aug. 21. (Provided by Junji Ota)

A 60-meter-high wind turbine near a nuclear power plant in northern Kyushu, Japan caught fire on 21st August 2017, posing difficulties for fire-fighting efforts from the danger of falling parts.

A fire department spokesperson said firefighters were unable to shoot water at the flames due to the fear of falling debris.

An official of Tokyo-based JFE Engineering Corp. said the wind turbine is operated by one of its affiliated companies. JFE Engineering said the cause of the fire is under investigation.

The Kushizaki plant in the city’s Chinzeimachikushi district is located about 700 to 800 meters from the Kyushu Electric Power Co.'s Genkai nuclear power plant in Genkai in the same prefecture across the sea.

NEWS SOURCE: The Asahi Shimbun

2.Ineffective Firefighting System and no Room Integrity results in evacuation and total loss of vessel

New Zealand's Transport Accident Investigation Commission has released its report into the tourist vessel PeeJay V which caught fire and sank because the main firefighting system was ineffective and staff did not fully understand how it should work. 

On January 18, 2016, the PeeJay V was on an all-day excursion from Whakatāne out to White Island with 53 passengers and seven crew on board. The PeeJay V was near the end of the journey and approaching the Whakatāne Harbour entrance when fire broke out in the engine room.

The crew released the fixed CO2 fire extinguisher into the engine room, which suppressed the fire for a short time. However, the fire quickly escalated, forcing the skipper to order everyone to abandon the vessel. [sic] The PeeJay V burnt to the waterline and sank. One crew member suffered from smoke inhalation, but otherwise nobody else was seriously injured.[sic]

The Commission also found that the CO2 fire suppression system, which was supposed to work by displacing the air in the engine room with CO2, was not effective in suppressing the fire. This was because air was able to enter the engine room through several openings, including a cable duct that had no means of being closed.[sic]

Three main safety issues identified during the inquiry were:

  • Maritime Rules did not require the PeeJay V to have fire detection or automatic fire alarms installed even though it could carry up to 90 passengers and operate up to 12 nautical miles from the coast.
  • The CO2 fixed fire-fighting system installed in the engine room could not be fully effective in extinguishing the fire because the space it was protecting could not be fully closed down.
  • The builder and operators of the vessel did not fully appreciate the principles of how the CO2 fixed fire-fighting system operated.

Maritime rules did not require the PeeJay V to have fire detection or automatic fire alarms installed even though she could carry up to 90 passengers and operate up to 12 nautical miles from the coast. Maritime New Zealand has agreed to review the maritime rules about fire alarms and remote extinguishers in vessels of this type with enclosed engine spaces. It will also encourage people who design, install and use CO2 fixed fire-fighting systems to fully document and understand how these systems work.

NEWS SOURCE: BY MAREX 2018-01-28 17:08:21
https://maritime-executive.com/article/firefighting-system-ineffective-in-tour-boat-fire#gs.luRi35o

How can the Portalevel® MAX Industrial support the food industry?

Why Portalevel Max Industrial is a great option?

  • It uses ultrasonic technology to identify liquid level contents
  • It is faster, better, easier vs. methods like weighing
  • It removes risk of contamination vs. methods like a dipstick
  • It comes with wide range of applications: oils, chemicals, food, refrigerants

Ultrasonic Level Measuring Device for Mayonnaise Level

This liquid level indicator is best to measure liquid level with accuracy. Check out the other details mentioned below for measuring mayonnaise:

Industry: Food Processing Factory

Application: Mayonnaise VAT Levels

  • Background:

Food processing factory based in the south of the UK producing Coleslaw, packaged salads and pastas for the likes of McDonalds, Tesco, Morrisons, Lidl. Producing over 130,000 pots of Coleslaw a day.

  • Application:

2.2metre high, 5mm stainless steel wall, filled with mayonnaise to be used for the Coleslaw. The current monitoring method consists of employing ladders to peer into the cylinder and check usage and remaining contents. The issue with this method lies in potential contamination and is a health and safety risk to the operator.

  • Solution:

A site visit was conducted by Coltraco Engineers and after a short trial we were able to gauge that the existing liquid level indication technology employed on the Portalevel® MAX INDUSTRIAL would be efficient in quickly and accurately gauging the liquid level of mayonnaise within the vessel.

  • Implementation:

The implementation of the ultrasonic level indicator allows the plant to run more efficiently and reduces risks by providing the staff with a means of accurately and non-invasively monitoring the contents within the mayonnaise tank negating the need for physical inspection using ladders which pose a health and safety risk to the operator.

  • Possibilities:

The trial and implementation suggested that we could develop a fixed monitoring system for this vessel and others like it, on order to non-invasively, continuously monitor the contents of mayonnaise (or any other condiments) within the tank. In addition we also saw possibilities to refine the capabilities of the Portalevel® MAX INDUSTRIAL to increase ease of use.

For further information, you can contact Coltraco Customer Service.

How The Portalevel® Max Marine can Protect Your Passenger Vessel

Carnival Cruises chose Coltraco to supply the Fleet with the UL-Listed and ABS approved Portalevel® MAX Marine. The Carnival Fleet is made up of 25 vessels, varying in size from 70,000-120,000 dwt, accounting for 21% of the worldwide cruise market. The safety of their ships is integral for the continuation of their business success. Catastrophic risks to human life, vessel, reputation and revenue all result from a fire event onboard. With 22 million people travelling on cruises in 2014 and the demand for cruising increasing by 68% since 2007, it’s essential that the safety of the fleet allows public demands to be met.

Incidences of fire on ships have been increasingly reported. In 2016, a couple who were travelling on the Estrella Amazonica tragically lost their lives after an uncontrolled fire broke out due to a lack of appropriate equipment and a failure to follow safety protocols. It’s this failure to ensure the safety of passengers which the Carnival Cruise line chose to mitigate by selecting Coltraco’s Portalevel® MAX.

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. 2.1.1.3. 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 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

Contact Coltraco Customer Support for more information.

How to Test Room Integrity Easily and Accurately

With numerous products being launched by Coltraco, Portascanner® 520 is one of the newly launched products. It qualifies to be an ultrasonic room integrity tester. Like other previous products, this one is cost effective and easy to use.

Complying with Regulations for Clean Agent Fire Suppression Systems

Current Situation:

Before installing Clean Agent fire suppression systems the integrity of the building structure commonly undergoes “Door Fan Testing’. This test determines the Peak Pressure and Agent Hold Time necessary for ensuring the effectiveness of these fire suppression systems. As required by NFPA 2001 and ISO 14520 standards to calculate the overall leakage of a room, this room integrity tester with ultrasonic technology is a great option.

Limitations:

Locating exact leak sites is currently done by a “puffer test” with smoke. However, such current methods do not provide precise, accurate results on leak location or size.

Solution:

Today, the industry can benefit from using the Portascanner® 520 Integrity Test Indicator alongside the Door Fan Testing for a complete and comprehensive regulatory room test. Ideal for precise leak detection, Portascanner® 520 is an exceptionally accurate (to 0.06mm) and fast method. It is the first of its kind, intuitive to use, non-invasive, and consequently, is of immediate use to the Fire Industry.

Package Offered with Portascanner® 520:

Portascanner 520 is an ultrasonic room integrity tester introduced by Coltraco. It offers some great content in a pinned packaging. Coltraco Limited, UK, offers following contents:

  • Receiver Rod:

The user directs the rod at areas they will to survey. Any escaping ultrasound if received by the rod and sent to the main unit is recorded.

  • Generator:

The generator is an ultrasonic generator with three transducers. These transducers emit a strong signal in one direction that fills that room/space with pulses of ultrasound.

  • Receiver:

The receiver processes and displays any ultrasound that emitted from a leaking space. The results are visually presented to the user on the internal screen as well as outputted to external headphones.

  • Headphones:

Any ultrasound that is identified by the unit is outputted as audible readings via external headphones.

Coltraco Ultrasonics by Numbers

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 Novec1230 (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 6.2.4.2 Contents Indication that - Means shall be provided to indicate that each container is correctly charged and in 9.2.1.1 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 room integrity 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.

2.1.1.3 - 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.

Why Should You Calibrate Annually?

We are often asked about calibration, why it is important, how often it should be done and why. The reason we know calibration to be important, and recommend its annual frequency is because our equipment is designed to improve safety and best practice. Ensuring the equipment used by crew/technicians/engineers to conduct such inspections is accurate and calibrated is a necessary one. Our manufacturer’s recommendations are based on the best that exist in ISO 17025 – an international standard for the calibration of any monitoring or measuring equipment: it must be at least once a year.

Calibrating measurement instrumentation is vital for business continuity through improved maintenance procedures for all industries, yet the calibration of such equipment is not commonly discussed. All good companies will comply with calibration requirements, understanding the need to ensure their equipment works as designed. Yet negligence is commonplace due to lack of understanding of the value of calibrations and not knowing  the regulations.

When you buy from any premier manufacturer, you have confidence in the longevity of your equipment, aided in our case by our Coltraco Customer Total Care Commitment, which includes life-time support. In addition, we have set up ODA Service Centres at major ports and centres worldwide, so our customers can send equipment for its calibration quickly and locally. We always do something “over and above” to enhance the unit for customers during its calibration and we have a wonderful reputation as a consequence.
http://www.coltraco.com/support/

How do you use the Portalevel® MAX?

The Portalevel® MAX has been specifically designed to be as easy, simple and definitive for a user to operate as possible. Simple touch buttons operate the controls and a digital screen provides clear and definitive results to the user. The 7 steps below outline the simple testing process. Further technical support regarding ultrasonic liquid level indicator is available to all customers.

  • Attach the sensor to the main Portalevel® MAX, switch the unit on and ensure the “Battery Low” Indication is not showing.
  • Depending on the condition of the cylinder, some couplet may need to be applied to the side of the cylinder; this could be in the form of Water spray, Ultrasonic Gel or an Oil & Water mix depending on what is easily accessible. This is not always essential and they all accomplish the required results.
  • Place the senor towards the top of the cylinder and engage the “CAL” feature. This will set the unit to that particular cylinder, catering for the material thickness, paint or surface covering.
  • When engaging the “CAL” feature, the Bar Graph on the screen will extend all the way to the right and the numbers will read high values.
  • The user should then move the sensor down the cylinder in small steps, making sure not to drag the sensor down the cylinder face.
  • When the sensor passes the level mark, the numbers will drop dramatically and the Bar graph will reduce all the way to the left. It is this change in display readings, which identifies the difference between Air (above Level) and Liquid (below Level) in a cylinder.
  • Through moving the sensor up in smaller steps, one can accurately pinpoint the exact liquid level location.

Graphical Presentation of Portalevel Max 8th Generation

This ultrasonic liquid level indicator is designed primarily to meet your measuring requirements of liquid levels enclosed in cylinders. We have developed a graphical presentation for you below to help you run yours without any fatigue, which you can find at liquid level indicator page.

Approvals for Coltraco Ultrasonic Level Indicator

Moreover, for your convenience and comfort, we have mentioned the list of approvals this device possesses:

  • Assembled under IPC-A-610 American national standards, institute protocols and Full ESD electrostatic discharge protocols; Finished with lead-free Rohs compliant Tin/Copper SN100C patented solder
  • Environmental metal enclosure rated to IP65
  • UL Approved and Certified manufactured Circuit Boards to UL specifications
  • RINA Classification Society Approved
  • UK Government CAGE Code KD983
  • P/N: 2290334-COMX
  • UL Approval Certificate Number: 20140310-E455148

To know more about Portalevel Max 8th Generation, download PDF

How to Protect Your Vessel From Gaseous Extinguishing Agent Leakage Whilst At Sea

To prevent fires, regulations require installation of a fixed fire protection system and annual maintenance by a licensed servicing company to check its condition. Following from the above it is now possible to go above and beyond the regulation requirement of annual maintenance which may not be sufficient to cover the remaining periods when the vessel is out at sea alone. The idea of continuous monitoring of fire suppression systems has been made possible and is done by non-invasive ultrasonic liquid level monitoring of the contents within the fire suppression cylinders. This ensures the quantity of agent required to extinguish a fire is always at its designed concentration to guarantee an efficacious fire protection in the event of a fire breaking out in the vessel.

With the usage of ultrasonic technology, Coltraco Ltd has capable to lead the continuous fire suppression monitoring system. Primarily produced in 2003, Permalevel was introduced importantly to facilitate UK Nuclear in order to monitor the system constantly. Today, it has other two lines as well, which are associated with its descriptions named as Permalevel Single Point® and Permalevel Multiplex®. Permalevel® is considered to be an accurate and reliable measuring ultrasonic leak detector. Here, we have provided you with the major features of Permalevel® Multiplex:

  • Multiple Alarm Levels:

2 -40mA Relay Alarms are actually connected to all the channels whereas it permits local alarms to organize for each cylinder individually.

  • Status of each channel shown by LEDs:

A set of red and green LED lights specify the status of every cylinder which facilitate a team for maintenance which are responsible to check for the cylinders in case any leakages are absorbed.

  • Optional Text/Email Alerts:

This helps in convenient and instantaneous form of data communication.

  • Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS):

It acts as a backup system, which helps in providing power by using AA 1.5V batteries in case the failure occurs of the main power.

  • Data logging Ability:

The software keeps logs of system errors, system activity and alarm triggers for every month. Due to the storage of these logs as simple texts files, they can be easily and conveniently viewed from outside and inside of the software. This is really helpful and advantageous for insurance companies due to the permanent and correct record of the functioning system accurately.

  • Strong Magnets:

These are beneficial to stick the sensors in place along with extra space for adhesive and a strap, which ensures the risk of accidentally removing of sensors.

  • Sensors:

Dedicated sensors are available with each monitoring point, which is connected to the particular cylinder for monitoring purposes.

  • Remote Real Time Monitoring Screen:

It gives off the information about the current condition of the cylinders in regards to the last contact have been made.

  • Compatible with Multiple Cylinder Types:

Tuning of every channel is individually possible. Moreover, it is done because every cylinder can be different from the last one in weight, size, and pressure and agent type.

For further information, visit www.coltraco.com

Hatch Cover Tester and its Scope

With the cost of leaking hatches to life, vessel and cargo detrimental, the need for servicing of the hatch covers is clear. High pressure watertight doors are designed for pressures in excess of 100' (30.5m) (this is equivalent to to a pressure of 299 kPa/ or 3 bar). Typical applications include protection for ship power plants, high-pressure chambers, hydro-electric plants and diving/decompression chambers which are often found on oil platforms and support vessels. In these sensitive areas a small 1m2 watertight door is often expected to be able to resist the weight of 30 tonnes of water without buckling or allowing the protected compartment to flood, and as such the requirement for frequent and accurate preventative maintenance on these seals cannot be overstated.  Watertight doors are critical to preserving the separation of watertight compartments so flooding can be contained to a local area. Manufacturers of watertight doors often have their own tolerances which allow a certain amount of water to flow through a door per minute at a certain pressure.

The regulations fully state the need to ensue watertight integrity, with periodic inspections required by SOLAS.

SOLAS Reg II-1/13-1.1 – Openings in Watertight Bulkheads and Internal Decks in Cargo Ships

Where penetrations of watertight bulkheads and internal decks are necessary for access, piping, ventilation, electrical cables, etc., arrangements are to be made to maintain the watertight integrity.

Different models of equipment vary, but in general UT equipment consists of two main units; a generator and a receiver. The generator produces an ultrasonic modulated tone, usually at a round 40kHz which is positioned on one side of the seal. The receiver is then used by the operator from the far side of the closed seal. If at any point the seal is imperfect, the ultrasonic signal will be able to pass though the seal through the leak, which can then be detected by the receiver. Some models of ultrasonic watertight integrity testers are capable of detecting leak apertures as small as 0.06±0.02mm in size. UT seals can provide the sensitivity to detect the smallest leaks, and are often displayed in two different types of readout scale: linear and decibel. The linear scale provides an intuitive measurement of the leak size, whereas the decibel scale allows for comparison of standards set by international classification societies.

The Portascanner® Watertight is basically multiple cable transit areas testing device,which is highly efficient in performing its respective job.

Bulk Carrier Hatches with Hatch Cover Tester

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

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

strong>Multiple Cable Transits (MCTs) with Hatch Cover Tester

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

Watertight Doors with Hatch Cover Tester

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

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

Smart Solutions for the Aerospace Industry

The UK aerospace industry is the second biggest in the world, with sales in the sector of £31.1billion last year. The aerospace industry is widely seen as the instigator of technology change in engineering disciplines. Within the bounds of manufacturing, the aerospace industry is the important testbed for developments in automation, assembly and inspection. The developments in the engineering of aerospace components often have implications for many other engineering sectors. Coltraco Ultrasonics received a request from an aerospace component manufacturer for an engineering solution for their manufacturing process.

A manufacturer of high end components for Aerospace and other high end engineering based in Wolverhampton, approached Coltraco for assistance with its monitoring of ammonia. The facilities manager met with Coltraco at a show in Birmingham, weeks prior. The facility runs 24/7, 265 days a year and is the size of around 2-3 football pitches. The facility is concerned mainly in manufacturing high end actuators that are installed on a range of civil and defence systems. Actuators are integral parts of modern engineering and their production is essential. The customer uses ammonia in a nitrating process in which ammonia is applied to heated metal, infusing the metal with the Nitrogen. This can have beneficial outcomes such as making the metal infuse with Nitrogen to make it harder, tougher and with higher melting temperatures. The factory asked Coltraco for a solution with its monitoring of the contents within the ammonia cylinders. This is specifically significant because if improperly managed, ammonia may threaten the safety of workers. To check that the ammonia cylinders had enough contents for a run, the manufacturer had been manually weighing the cylinders. However, manually weighing cylinders if inefficient, time consuming and risks damaging the system and injuring the personnel conducting the laborious test. This method also has been shown to incur waste which was costly to the manufacturer.

Coltraco presented an innovative non-invasive, accurate method that is quicker, much easier for the operator to test and thus, saves money. After a formal assessment by a Coltraco Engineer, the Portalevel® MAX Industrial was found effective in accurately and quickly identifying the liquid level within the ammonia cylinders. Portalevel® MAX Industrial allowed for more efficient operations and reduced waste by ensuring partially empty cylinders were not returned to the gas supplier. Coltraco offer comprehensive customer service and therefore designed an in-house testing and recording process that was compatible with the manufacturers current monitoring processes.

The trial and implementation stimulated interested in developing an Ammonia Portasteele® Calculator program to allow accurate conversion of the liquid level to agent mass/weight. The Portasteele® Calculator is an advanced calculator application, that currently 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. The Portasteele® Calculator offers unparalleled efficiency, ease of maintenance and simple training. This advanced technology is supplied on a stand-alone rugged hand-held 7” touch screen tablet which makes these advanced calculations in real time. Data is stored on the Calculator so the crew or service technician are able to easily send servicing reports back to the shore based managers or directly to customers, without having to manually upload the results onto a computer. Furthermore, the Portasteele® can convert an expected substance weight back to the required liquid level allowing users to anticipate where the level should be. The adaptability of Coltraco’s technology allows programs to suit the requirements of their customers purpose.

To know more about ultrasonic level indicator, please visit www.coltraco.com

Why do you need a Portascanner® Watertight?

A lack of proper servicing of seals can lead to deterioration which endanger the lives of the crew, vessel and cargo.  One British manufacturer whose mission is to deliver the Safeship® to prevent El Faro type incidents occurring again is Coltraco Ultrasonics. They are committed to improving safety for people, assets and vessels at sea. They focus on benefitting the crew; designing innovative ultrasonic solutions which the crew will be happy to use by being easy to operate, quick, accurate and a better method to traditional techniques. Thus increasing the likelihood of tests being regularly conducted, in line with regulations and even going above and beyond for more frequent testing. By so doing, the crew will be creating a safer ship.

Ultrasonics is proven to be the quickest, easiest and most efficient method of testing watertight & weather-tight seals of hatch-covers, doors, multiple cable transits. The Portascanner® WATERTIGHT is the most accurate model of its kind – proven to 0.06mm (+/-0.02mm). 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. The easy to use PortascannerÒ WATERTIGHT allows crew member to check for failing seals.

Ultrasonic hatch cover tester is best for the following applications:

Bulk Carrier Hatches

The Portascanner® Watertight is used onboard bulk carriers for inspecting the Watertight or Weather-tight hatches for leak sites. The magnetic generator can be positioned just inside the hold, on the hatch combing, removing the need to climb down to position the generator at the bottom of the hold on the tank top.

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

Watertight Doors

Watertight Doors on offshore Oil & Gas Rigs, Naval and Marine Vessels are regularly inspected & maintained to ensure the integrity of the Bulkheads and watertight barriers are secure. If these areas are neglected, there can be drastic impacts on flood prevention in the event of a major incident, which is exactly what the Portascanner helps to avoid. Removing old fashioned and inaccurate chalk testing, the Portascanner Technology provides a very quick and accurate method to identify problem areas and fix the issues that exist within these seals.

Multiple Cable Transits (MCTs)

Cable Transit Seals provide a key element in maintaining the integrity of bulkheads and watertight seals onboard Naval, Offshore Oil & Gas and Marine assets. Portascanner being a multiple cable transit areas testing device is efficient in checking the condition of this main element. As one of the most neglected areas onboard, having the means to quickly identify the exact location and severity of issues in MCTs can dramatically assist Contractors and Fleet Operators to enhance the flood, fire & smoke protection that a correctly installed MCT seal provides.

For further information and inquiries, leave a message for Coltraco Customer Service.

Portalevel® Max Industrial

The Portalevel® Max Industrial non-invasively verifies the contents of cylinders and tanks holding liquids, suitable for a range of industrial purposes e.g food processing and ammonia cylinders in aerospace.

IBCs Food Processing by Portalevel Max Industrial

Background: 

Food processing factory based in the south of the UK producing Coleslaw, packaged salads and pastas for the likes of McDonalds, Tesco, Morrisons, Lidl. Producing over 130,000 pots of Coleslaw a day.

Application: 

2.2 metre high, 5mm stainless steel wall, filled with mayonnaise to be used for the Coleslaw. The current monitoring method consists of employing ladders to peer into the cylinder and check usage and remaining contents. The issue with this method lies in potential contamination and is a health and safety risk to the operator.

Solution: 

A site visit was conducted by Coltraco Engineers and after a short trial we were able to gauge that the existing liquid level indication technology employed on the Portalevel® Max would be efficient in quickly and accurately gauging the liquid level of mayonnaise within the vessel. It is known to be an efficient ultrasonic leak detector.

Implementation: 

The implementation of the Portalevel® Max allows the plant to run more efficiently and reduces risks by providing the staff with a means of accurately and non-invasively monitoring the contents within the mayonnaise tank negating the need for physical inspection using ladders posing a health and safety risk to the operator.

Possibilities: 

The trial and implementation suggested that we could develop a fixed monitoring system for this vessel and others like it, in order to non-invasively; continuously monitor the contents of mayonnaise (or any other condiments) within the tank. In addition we also saw possibilities to refine the capabilities of the Portalevel® Max to increase ease of use.

Ammonia cylinders in Aerospace

Background: Manufacturer of high-end components for Aerospace and other high-end engineering. The Wolver Hampton facility runs 24/7 365 days a year and is the size of around 2-3 football pitches. The facility is concerned mainly in manufacturing high-end actuators that are installed on a range of civil and defense systems.

Application: 

The facilities manager of the factory met with us at the Facilities Management show in Birmingham weeks prior. We were informed on the need to monitor the contents within Ammonia Cylinders.

The customer uses ammonia in a nitriding process in which ammonia is applied to a heated metal infusing the metal with Nitrogen. This can have beneficial properties such as making the metal harder/tougher/higher melting temperatures etc. Presently, weighing techniques are used to ensure a cylinder has enough contents for a run. This has been shown to be ineffective and incur waste - a non-invasive, accurate method would be quicker, reduce waste and save money.

Solution: 

A Coltraco Engineer visited the site to conduct technology suitability trials. Our technology was found to be effective in accurately and quickly in identifying the liquid level within the ammonia cylinders.

Implementation:

It was recommended that a standard un-altered Portalevel® Max – liquid level indicator would be a suitable solution.

We also cooperated with the customer to develop an in-house testing and recording process that was compatible with their current processes.

The solution provided a quick and accurate non-invasive solution, which allowed for more efficient operations and reduced waste by ensuring partially empty cylinders were not returned to the gas supplier.

Possibilities: 

The trial and implementation suggested that we could develop a fixed monitoring system for this agent to non-invasively constantly monitor their cylinder contents. This also stimulated interest in developing an Ammonia Portasteele® program to allow the accurate conversion of liquid level to agent mass.

For further information and inquiries, please leave a message for Coltraco Customer Services

Effective Weighing Cylinders Method provided by Coltraco

Coltraco Ultrasonics are the only company worldwide that can convert ultrasonic liquid level readings to weight via an application with an added datalogging function.

The Portasteele® calculator is effective weighing conversion method which saves money and cost without compromising safety.

Three Core Features

Portasteele® Calculator has the following major features:

1. Data-logging

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

2. Measure weight without weighing

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

3. Quick and Easy

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

You can reactive Time Efficient:

The stand-alone unit is based on a 7’’ tablet computer, and will allow the software to be used out in the field so liquid levels and agent weights can be calculated in real time without the need for information to be recorded independently and then analyzed on a separate computer.

Highly Accurate: 

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

Intuitive:

Often used cylinder sizes and settingss can be saved and loaded for quick and easy access to prevent the need to repeatedly enter common values.

For more information, you can leave your inquiry for Coltraco Customer Service.

Room Integrity and Compartmentation

Room Integrity is often an overlooked aspect of a clean agent installation whereby it is required that the concentration of the clean agent meets the sufficient “Hold Time” when discharged in a room in order to properly extinguish fires. Achieving this “Hold Time” is largely dependent on the overall leakage in the room otherwise referred to as the “Equivalent Leakage Area” or ELA in the industry. The most common and widely accepted way of determining whether the enclosure achieves the sufficient “Hold Time” for the agent is by carrying a Door Fan Test (DFT). This involves pressurising and depressurising the enclosure to check if it achieves the pass rate and if the enclosure fails the test, the presence of leaks are the common contributors to this failure. The industry introduces various methods to identify these leaks which are then patched up before the DFT is being conducted again. What is an often-neglected fact is that  as a buildings age or their internal use is changed, leak sites will begin to develop. If the gas cannot be held in the confined space on discharge during a fire event, the probability of its suppression diminishes in  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 ISO 14520 and 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”. 

Despite DFT being a reliable method to determine the “hold time”, methods to locate the leak sites themselves are inaccurate such as the use of smoke pencils or draught testing using the back of a hand. The limitations of the DFT often lie in the fact that the leakage areas are only identified during installation of the clean agent system and make no acknowledgement to the fact that additional leak sites may develop throughout the lifetime of a building.

In the event of fire, a pencil sized hole between compartments size 6m x 6m x 3m would take just 4 minutes before a person would not be able to see their hand due to smoke. If this compartment was a fire escape, there could be a severe threat to life if people cannot escape. Thus it is clear to see why the maintenance of the integrity of the compartments is essential to genuinely aid the safety to human life.  As building age or their internal use is changed leak sites develop and the threat to people becomes high.

Coltraco Ultrasonics have provided a smart solution for quick and easy assurance of compartmentation and leak detection. The proprietary device known as the Portascanner® 520 ultrasonic leak detector uses ultrasonic 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, and is by far the most mathematically proven accurate device for this function.

Portascanner® WATERTIGHT is the portable Ultrasonic Watertight Integrity Indicator – for testing

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

Technical Specifications of Receiver – Hatch Cover Tester

  • Enclosure: Aluminum IP65 Waterproof
  • Battery Life: 10 hours continuous use minimum
  • Output:  1 watt (maximum) audible signal (via calibrated headphones with visual 4 digit LCD display and graph)
  • Powered By: 1 x 9V PP3 batteries with low battery indication
  • Size: 21.5cm L x 8.5cm W x 3.5cm H
  • Weight: 419 Grams

The receiver of this ultrasonic hatch cover tester uses ultrasonic technology to convert the 40KHz pulses sent by the generator into three easily comprehensible readings: audible, bar graph and numerical which enables the operator to understand if the seal is wholly watertight or to what extent a leak exists.

Technical Specifications of Generator – Hatch Cover Tester

  • Mounting Arrangements: Permanent Magnet
  • Output:  0.1 watt/100dB unidirectional
  • Enclosure: ABS material
  • Size: 15cm L x 9cm W x 5cm H
  • Powered By: 2 x 9V PP3 batteries
  • Weight: 431 Grams
  • Battery Life: 10 hours minimum

The generator is an ultrasonic generator with three transducers. This will produce a strong signal in one direction i.e. directly from the transducer, which fills the compartment being tested with ultrasound pulses e.g. providing sufficient coverage to fill the hold when the hatch-covers are closed. The generator is permanently fitted with a powerful magnet which allows it to be attached to the vessel structure where required. A magnet cover is provided when the magnet is not in use.

Accuracy of Results Obtained

The extent of the leak is indicated by the numerical readout by this hatch cover maintenance and watertight integrity-testing device. In terms of the numerical readout:

  • “0 - 5” or ”0 dB” indicates seal watertight integrity
  • “6 - 100” or “1 dB - 26 dB” indicates weather-tightness only
  • “101+” or “27 dB+” indicates weak seal compression
  • High values indicate a full leak site

For further information, download PDF

Why should we continuously monitor?

Continuous monitoring is no longer an option; it is essential for the protection against special hazards in critical infrastructure. 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 deliver the infrastructural resilience our advanced society requires. The assumptions in the installation, commissioning and maintenance of gaseous extinguishing systems is that they are highly pressurised but risk leaking and discharging. ISO 14520 specifically guides our industry as to these risks; In 9.2.1.3 The storage container contents shall be checked at least every six months as follows. : a) Liquefied gases: for halocarbon agents, if a container shows a loss of agent in quantity of more than 5 % or a loss of pressure (adjusted for temperature) of more than 10 %, it shall be refilled or replaced. b) Non-liquefied gases: for inert gas agents, pressure is an indication of agent quantity. If a container shows a loss of agent quantity or a loss of pressure (adjusted for temperature) of more than 5 %, it shall be refilled or replaced. Therefore, at a standards level it is known that gaseous systems can become ineffective through accidental discharge and leakage and thus they do not serve to protect the critical infrastructure in such a case. To know the contents, you need to monitor it, and checking it every 6 months is not monitoring it.

Should we not just constantly monitor all of them and be in full compliance to the regulations and the risks that are so clearly described in our own core standards? If it is known and accepted that these are dynamic systems that are prone to leaking, but they are expected to deliver resilience and protection, then why are they left unattended for 6 months of the year? We would not do the same to an alarm system without monitoring it 24/7, so why are we not monitoring gaseous extinguishing systems? Let us apply 21st century science to a 100 year old issue and be done with it. A dynamic system needs monitoring. The neglect of continuous monitoring of the fundamental protection provided by the gaseous extinguishing systems is to the peril of the lives of occupants of the premises and at the risk of crippling financial loss to the facility comprising the critical infrastructure. To ensure that dynamic gaseous systems are protecting critical infrastructure in a safe and diligent manner, 6 monthly monitoring and maintenance is no longer enough. There is a call for continuous monitoring and this is something that cannot wait any more.

How could the Portalevel® MAX INDUSTRIAL help you?

The Portalevel® MAX INDUSTRIAL includes a range of liquid level testing applications across various sectors including:

Food:

PROBLEM: A food processing factory based in the South of the UK approached Coltraco facing difficulty in monitoring the contents of its mayonnaise and Coltraco offered a solution to this problem. The mayonnaise used for the coleslaw is contained in 2.2. metres high, 5mm stainless steel cylinders.

SOLUTION: The implementation of the Portalevel® MAX INDUSTRIAL, allows the plant to run more efficiently and reduces risks by providing staff with a means of accurately and non-invasively monitoring the contents within the mayonnaise tank negating the need for physical inspection using ladders.

Pharmaceutical:

PROBLEM: A British pharmaceutical company approached Coltraco for an innovative solution to aid a manufacturing plant,  where a mix of ammonia and water is delivered to the site in Intermediate Bulk Containers. Previously, the company had been monitoring the ammonia contents through a physical dip stick measurement on the tank, because of a lack of confidence in the internal IBC monitoring systems. However, the fumes given off by ammonia are irritating and posing a severe health risk for the engineers.

SOLUTION: The Portalevel® MAX INDUSTRIAL requires no input from the on-site engineer apart from the simple application of the sensor to the vessel wall. This protects the operator from the health and safety problems that were presented through manual monitoring, as well as increasing efficiency.

Aerospace:

PROBLEM: A manufacturer of high end components for Aerospace and other high end engineering based in Wolverhampton, approached Coltraco for assistance with its monitoring of ammonia. Manually weighing cylinders proved inefficient, time consuming and risks damaging the system and injuring the personnel conducting the laborious test.

SOLUTION: Portalevel® MAX INDUSTRIAL allowed for more efficient operations and reduced waste by ensuring partially empty cylinders were not returned to the gas supplier.

Transformers:

PROBLEM: A Steel Production facility commissioned Coltraco for assistance with their transformers. 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.

SOLUTION: With the Portalevel® MAX INDUSTRIAL, 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. Inspecting with increased efficiency, the oil inspections can now be conducted routinely saving overall maintenance and labour costs as only a single user is required to operate the equipment.

Coltraco Ultrasonics provide smart ultrasonic solutions which enable business owners to improve their safety management and reduce the risks to human life, business continuity caused by any downtime and thus minimise risk to reputation by delivering a Safesite®.

Advantages Of the  Portable Ultrasonic Bearing Indicator

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

Benefits offered with Coltraco Ultrasonic Bearing Indicator

Accurate:

Extremely sensitive to detecting faults

Easy To Use:

Measurements can be taken when the vessel is offshore or in port

Effective:

All the bearings on a vessel can be tested efficiently and reliably

Quick:

Allows for problem bearings to be checked quickly and reliably if damage is suspected

Repeatable Results:

Comparison to logs of past measurements can help identify even small changes in the functioning of the bearing

Non-Destructive & Non-Intrusive:

This ultrasonic bearing indicator comes with measurements, which will not affect the function of the bearing

Portable:

Battery powered and lightweight for convenience operates at 0-650 c and can be used in the large majority of marine environments

Stay Ahead

  • Provides insight into planning of future repairs
  • Identify sites with contaminated/lacking lubrication which can be easily fixed before any further damage occurs
  • Identify varying levels of damage – problems can be fixed before excessive damage occurs

For further information, download PDF

Smart Technology delivers the Safesite

To create the Safesite®, more faciliites are moving to increasing sensor remote monitoring 24/7, 365. Fire alarms are largely linked up but there is a gap in the fire extinguishing systems which actually suppress the fire event. Now is the time to introduce smart technology. Permalevel® MULTIPLEX is designed for just this reason to protect aluminium facilities and their personnel. 

Using smart ultrasonic technology, Permalevel® MULTIPLEX continuously monitors fixed fire extinguishing systems for leaking agents, 24/7, 365 days a year. With guaranteed systems operations, adaptability for purpose, 24/7 remote access to the systems status, an interruptible power supply and remote real-time monitoring, Permalevel® MULTIPLEX offers the efficiency that is now a requirement for encompassing protection.

Implement an holistic approach: check compartmentation

Coupled with the danger of leaking agents, room integrity is often an overlooked aspect of a suppression system installation. Room integrity requires that in the event of a fire, the released fire extinguishant must meets the sufficient “Hold Time”, in order to properly extinguish fires. Buildings age and their internal use changes and because of this,  leak sites develop.  The likelihood of the gaseous system effectively extinguishing the fire gets lower and lower as the protected area becomes larger than the size that the extinguishing system was designed for.

Coltraco Ultrasonics have provided a smart solution for quick and easy assurance of compartmentation and leak detection. The Portascanner® 520 ultrasonic leak detector uses ultrasonic technology to not only pinpoint precise leak locations, but to determine their leak size as small as 0.06mm with a tolerance of +/-0.02mm, and is proven the most mathematically accurate device for this function.

How can ship owners protect their crew, vessels and cargo?

Through ongoing technology advancements, ship owners can protect their crew, vessels and cargo with smart Safeship® technologies.

Gaseous extinguishing systems protect important infrastructure against special hazards, fundamental for the safeguarding of critical facilities. 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.) One of the highest probabilities of discharge occurs during their maintenance. 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. Taking CO2 systems through as an example, although random checks may be suitable in some sectors, it is worth remembering that because the normal design concentration of CO2 of 34-72 v/v % is above the nearly immediate acute lethality level, these systems have an extremely narrow safety margin. As these systems work through oxygen dilution rather than the chemical disruption of the catalytic combustion chain (which is the case with other clean agents), insufficient oxygen levels during an accidental discharge may allow a situation to spiral out of hand. Yet although this poses high levels of risk to the service companies and the crew, 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.

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, 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.

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.
The Portalevel ® MAX Marine liquid level indicator 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, enables identification in under 30 seconds using Portalevel® with one person, instead of the traditional 15 minutes, with two people laboriously weighing.

Combined with the MAX Marine, 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.

What is the Ungoverned Space?

It is quite clear that minimal compliance with regulations is just not enough, and that the need to go above and beyond the standards exists for safety critical environments and high value assets. This haphazard approach is dangerous and often unknown to the users of the infrastructure.

There is an assumption that protecting buildings by installing fire extinguishing systems and covering the building with insurance is enough to provide full safety of a building. But this neglect and minimal understanding of the need for maintaining the fire extinguishing systems leads to only one thing, a gap in the protection of people, assets + facilities.

Simply put, the ‘ungoverned space’ is the area in the fire industry where either the regulations or the protecting systems of the critical infrastructure are not effectively providing consistent and reliable safety. Coltraco repeatedly push for this life-threatening issue to be dealt with, with specific regard to loss of contents in fixed fire extinguishing systems and need for improvements to room integrity testing.

To go above and beyond the regulations, building owners and managers must test and monitor their fire extinguishing systems to check for leakage. By using the ultrasonic liquid level indicator, the Portalevel ® MAX and/or the constant monitoring system the Permalevel ® Multiplex, building owners and managers are able to exceed the standards and ensure that the gaseous extinguishing systems are able to extinguish in the event of the fire.

In a time when cost drives safety decisions, using either or both of these systems allows a company to reduce their insurance premiums without compromising the safety of lives, assets and infrastructure. The recommendation of using Portalevel® Max and Permalevel® Multiplex from insurers benefits them as to guaranteeing long-term top customers who aspire for improved safety.

As with many leaders in the fire industry, Coltraco are pushing for rapid action to be taken in protecting peoples lives. There is no room for the industry to fall back into old habits. The fire industry must lead the way to a safer future. Constant monitoring of gaseous extinguishing systems and room integrity must be implemented, people’s lives depend upon it.

Testing & Maintenance of Hatch Covers & Doors: Best Practice Guidance

Failure of the hatch-covers can cause damage to the cargo, loss of vessel stability and ultimately, loss of the vessel. Hatches must meet the SOLAS Convention, the Load Line Convention, classification society rules and IMO and ILO Guidelines. Watertight (WT) hatch covers prevent water ingress and cargo damage, preventing the possible loss of stability. Watertight integrity can also prevent seawater spray, which combined with air, may cause significant corrosion of the vessel structure and consequentially a reduction in strength. Therefore, hatches are fitted to ships to maintain watertight integrity and protect the crew, ship and cargo. In the forward 25% of the vessel, watertight integrity is particularly important as this is where sea loads are at their highest.

Most classification societies and P&I Clubs now recommend ultrasound which can be done in any weather states and when the ship is loaded. For example, UK P&I Club, Loss Prevention Department published updated information from the Carefully to Carry Commitment in 2002 about “testing weather-tight integrity of dry cargo vessels’ hatchcovers” identifying the ultrasonic test as best practice. IACS requires anyone carrying out a survey to be qualified but unlike most manufacturers, Coltraco manufactures Portascanner® WATERTIGHT, whose readings cannot include ambient noise. It is always recommended to conduct one test when the hold is empty and another when loading is completed, as this can reveal leaks caused by hogging or sagging. Ultrasonic leak detectors must be class type approved

Receiver of PortascannerÒ WATERTIGHT

It consists of extension rod connector, Gain 1,2,3, Volume Up and Down Buttons, LCD Visual Display, Mode, On and Off Buttons and Headphone Connection. Following is the way of operation of receiver:

  • It possesses audio and visual outputs.
  • As sensor rod is attached to it, a user can scan the seal at close range entirely.
  • LCD screen shows the visual output of detected ultrasounds.
  • The visual data received can be converted to decibels (dB) reading which is perfect to be tested to certification society standards.
  • Bar graph representation is also available.
  • With standard jack of 3.5 mm, a headphone is attached to the receiver to receive audio signals.
  • Heterodyning is the process through which receiver converts the ultrasound waves into audio signals so that user can easily hear.

Generator of Portascanner Watertight

It consists of Power On and Off Buttons, Transducers, Low Battery Indication and Battery Compartment. The operation of generator of this cable transit watertight areas testing are mentioned below:

  • It is placed on one side of the sealed compartment and turned on.
  • Sensor rod is utilized to scan the seal by user standing on the other side of the compartment
  • Increased signal strength will be shown apparently for leak sites.
  • The numerical display and volume of audible signals can easily show the strength of the signals received by the receiver.

For further information, download PDF File

How do crew ensure that CO2 contents exist?

A ships fixed extinguishing system protects the machinery spaces. They allow an engine room fire to be responded to, with minimal risk to the vessels crew. However, the fixed extinguishing system has to be used properly and for this, maintenance is essential. Too often CO2 has been discharged without securing openings to the fire area first. The CO2 will leak through them aided by the thermal currents from the fire. A 2017 Gard publication states that, “Emergency response to engine room fires can be .. more efficient if the crew is properly trained in the safe use of the ships fire extinguishing system.. For the typical engine room fire involving flammable liquids it is important to introduce the required quantities of CO2 quickly to limit the escalation of the fire…The extinguishing capabilities of gas can be compromised if the integrity and tightness of the boundaries of the protected space are not sound … by excessive leakage of gas through open or improperly closed doors, vents or ventilation ducts.” If the seals to any of these are not sound, closing them will not entirely deal with this problem.

The crew have to ensure that the  CO2 or Marine CO2 Systems contents exist, that the protected space can be sealed and that the pipework used to discharge the CO2 are clear of particulates that can clog up the nozzles and reduce the required design concentration of CO2 (or any clean agent such as NOVEC™ 1230 ) to the point where it cannot deal with the fire event.

To ensure mitigation of the risks posed by unsuccessful discharge of marine fire extinghusing systems, a cheap and effective solution is to apply the IMO SOLAS FSS code by using innovative technology to ensure that the crew can test the contents of each CO2 cylinder in less than 30 seconds as part of routine maintenance. Gaseous Systems are highly pressurised at 49Bar or 720 psi and can leak as they exist in a dynamic state. Anecdotal evidence suggests that 20% of cylinders aboard ships are partialy empty or empty. This is why we believe that Portalevel® MAX Marine Engine Room Firecheck deserves recognition by the Safety at Sea award.

Portalevel® MAX Marine ultrasonic level indicator is an  8th generation hand-held ultrasonic liquid level indicator from Coltraco Ultrasonics with ABS Type Approval. This core product centres the Engine Room Firecheck package. Many people are still unaware of this method for testing the fixed fire extinguishing systems onboard vessels and instead rely on the traditional method of weighing or neglect to test the contents of ships CO2 systems until the annual certification check by shore-based contractors. The Portalevel® MAX Marine is an innovative and crew-safe method

Nuclear power plants call for 24/7 continuous monitoring

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.
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.

Safesite Solutions: the future is 24/7 constant monitoring

Coltraco have 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. 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 unbeatable efficiency. 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. 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. The immediate use of the Portascanner® lies in its improvement of the final stage of room integrity testing – 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.

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