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

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®.

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

FIRETEST SOLUTIONS TO DELIVER THE SAFESITE

Coltraco Ultrasonics provide smart Firetest® solutions which enable wind turbine owners and operators to improve their fire 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®.

Focused on continued advancement of safety technology, Coltraco have now developed the Permalevel® Multiplex, a fixed fire suppression monitoring system, designed for continuous 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. With guaranteed systems operations, adaptability for purpose, 24/7 remote access to the systems status, an interruptible power supply and remote real-time monitoring, the Permalevel® offers the efficiency that is needed in a wind turbine.

For regular inspection, the Portalevel® MAX is a handheld ultrasonic liquid level indicator, which can service a cylinder in 30 seconds (in contrast to 15minutes by traditional manual weighing) with accuracy of up to 1.5mm off the true liquid level. The Portalevel® MAX builds on Coltraco Ultrasonics’ 30 years’ experience in designing, manufacturing and supporting ultrasonic liquid level indicating equipment, in 108 Countries and numerous market sectors and environments. The development program was born out of the desire to further improve on Coltraco’s existing 8 designs and taking on board feedback and opinions of our customers

See the range of fire extinguishing monitoring systems here.

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.

For further information, you may download Portascanner Watertight PDF

3 key areas for regular inspection

The ungoverned space is the area where either the regulations or the protecting systems of the critical infrastructure are not effectively providing consistent and reliable safety. This life-threatening issue must be dealt with, with specific regard to loss of contents in fixed fire extinguishing systems and need for improvements to room integrity testing.

The neglect of the basic routine testing and maintenance of 3 key areas substantially increases the risk of an onboard engine room fire:

  •  the cylinder agent content in the fire extinguishing installations, commonly CO2, FM-200®, Novec™1230, halons;
  • the associated pipework;
  • and the room integrity of the protected space into which the suppressant agent discharges;

Some smart Safeship® solutions

  • Ultrasonic liquid level indicator: to identify the agent liquid level in under 30 seconds with 1 competent user*
    • Compared to 15 minutes by laboriously weighing with 2 personnel, qho must be qualified in fire safety inspections, which most crew are not
    • Complies with IMO SOLAS FSS Code 2.1.1.3 which requires crew to have the means onboard to test the installation agent content
  • Ultrasonic thickness gauge, ultrasonic flow meter, acoustic emissions bearing indicator: all efficiently inspect and provide condition monitoring of
    • metal work,
    • pipework and
    • rotating machinery

Ultrasonic watertight and airtight integrity indicator: to identify leak sites in compartments. To ensure that the protected space is able to withstand the pressure of the agent when it discharges
and that the compartment will hold that agent for the design concentration required to suppress a fire

*Disclaimer: these calculations and descriptions are based on the range by Coltraco Ultrasonics only.

The danger is shown in the statistics. Maintaining high standards of fire safety practice does not have to be expensive or time consuming. This is a call for awareness of the problem and action to be taken now.

The Mathematics of Monitoring Gaseous Extinguishing Systems & Room Integrity

Applying Mathematics

The fire industry calling is a noble one. It is uses scientific principles to enable its very existence. The fire industry, however, calculates fire engineering designs based on formulas that its technicians have no way of understanding or verifying are accurate. The industry needs a Resident Mathematician to ensure that the formulas they use are correct. Fire engineers do not always understand the physical properties of the clean agents they use. Some do not wholly appreciate the impact of temperature on the state of an agent or its pressures. Novec 1230 for instance is an organic compound which deteriorates quickly to a point of non-effectiveness if poorly handled and stored. These problems and many more can be solved in the fire industry by the application of fundamental scientific and engineering principles. But they can only be proved by the application of the mathematics of them. Coltraco are at the vanguard of this in the fire industry.

Clean Agents

Are pressurised liquefied gases or non-liquefied gases that are pressurised on actuation. 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. 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.  

We achieve this

By our ability to establish the liquid contents of liquefied clean agents – through UL-approved Portalevel MAX and the constant monitoring system, Permalevel Multiplex. Once we do this we can establish their weight and mass – through Portasteele Calculator (the world’s first product capable of this). If we can monitor their pressure too then we can monitor both the pressure of the gas above the liquefied agent such as in Novec 1230 and the pressure of non-liquefied gases such as Inergen or Nitrogen.

How can you ensure the effectiveness of your fire suppression system?

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.

The regulations are not extensive enough to deal with the risks presented in gaseous systems. In 9.2.1.3 the regulations explains that 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. 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, a 5% loss of agent may mean that they would not fully extinguish the fire.

Coltraco Ultrasonics have now developed a fixed fire suppression monitoring device, the Permalevel® MULTIPLEX ultrasonic level indicator which is designed for permanent contents verification. The continuous monitoring system 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. The device uses the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT enables a worldwide transmission of data starting from sensor to sensor to the microprocessors and to the facilities manager or maintenance team. Instead of waiting for annual checks, it would improve safety to have these cylinders constantly monitored using ultrasonic sensors. Now, by coupling with IoT developments, this enable their status to be visible to safety managers and building owners.

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 and reputational loss to the facility comprising the critical infrastructure.

Applications of Portascanner® Watertight

Shipping and Marine Applications

  • Bulk carriers
  • General cargo vessels
  • Container operators
  • Reefers
  • Ro-Ro vessels
  • Supply vessels
  • Tankers Shipbuilders and Shipyards during construction activities
  • Class Hull Surveyors during survey of ships

Defense Applications

  • Warships 
  • Military aircraft airtight seals 
  • Submarines
  • Tank testing
  • Auxiliary vessels
  • Naval support vessels
  • Armoured vehicle NBC/CW seals
  • Citadel for Nuclear Biological Damage Control (NBCD)
  • This hatch cover tester is safe to use onboard for any vessel due to integration of ultrasonic technology

Offshore Oil & Gas Application

  • Drill-ships
  • Rigs
  • Platforms
  • And other vessels

Portascanner Kit Contents

For your ease, we have developed an image assuring you regarding the content you will find in the new Coltraco Portascanner® Watertight Package. Give it a give!

  • Durable Carrying Case
  • Operating Instructions, Calibration Certificate, Training DVD
  • PortascannerIIGenerator for multiple use and flexible applications
  • Headphone Set to minimize ambient noise and to hear audible readings
  • Portascanner Receiver to relate results into audible and visual readings
  • Sensor Extension Rod to detect the integrity readings

For further information, Download PDF

Calibrating your equipment annually or every 5 years? Regulation or recommendation?

Beware the Cost of Cheaper Price.

Globalisation is accepted now as part of who we are. It is often strange to hear this in the UK when we have been a globally trading nation for over 400 years. For the many today who see its advantages, there are a greater number who are its consequence, both amongst the bottom 20% at home in the West but also those who are exploited in the East. Behind this are the developing countries who enable globalisation, but who, individually, do not always share in its benefits. Others take advantage of it whilst not implementing its practises or requirements. For example, manufacturers in the West see their ideas and innovations replicated by some in the East, by companies who do not always adhere to the same standards in either their manufacture or delivering the quality and specifications they claim. Underlying this is a negligence towards their servicing and calibration.

The argument goes that the cost of calibration should be in proportion to their acquisition price but this holds no inherent engineering logic as the reason for its calibration is contained in ISO 17025 which is an international standard. If manufacturers making measuring instruments base their calibration standards on laboratory ones then surety of safe practise will accrue to all its users globally. To dictate their own calibration standards as less regular than annually, as many do, is an indicator of potential doubt in their approach to delivering quality.

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.

Here are some examples of best practice. At Rolls Royce the test cell for their Trent XWB engines are calibrated every 3 months. In the gas industry, customers are recommended to calibrate their detectors every 6 months, especially if they are using them in confined spaces, in order to ensure they are maintaining their accuracy as per technical specifications. There are serious consequences if customers do not value the understanding of their monitoring or measuring tools or equipment, which unfortunately renders them at risk.

But, what about 5 year calibration certificates? On calibration and as a manufacturer of quality, we are clear that it is unsound, unsafe and unprofessional to compete on calibration cost as some competitors offer 5 year calibration certificates. How can the manufacturer know its calibration will hold given the array of climate, humidity and environmental conditions that a product may go through 365 days per year ?  We wish to uphold the best there is in ISO 17025. Nor do we wish customers to believe that it is the manufacturer who dictates calibration standards, which is not the case – the key here is that we will not issue calibration certificates beyond a year.

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.

So whilst we can enjoy the benefits of globalisation that should not be limited to price attraction in isolation from the costs of cheaper prices. If you are buying something critical to your Safety Management System, forego the attractions of the cheaper price or scant regard for calibration standards that all too often accompany them.

Global trade depends on professionals across many industries to deliver it safely and to the highest standards, regardless of any cyclical down-turn. It is why we work so hard to develop our Safety Management Systems. They deliver Safesite® and Safeship® practices, protecting life at sea, the vessel and its cargo. If we react to the cost advantages of poorly made and replicated equipment by buying them we should not be surprised if we also react to the allure those same manufacturers offer in regard to their servicing and calibration, and at that point the collective efforts of the governments, classification societies, trade associations and industry leaders striving for best practice will in itself be damaged.

Dust & Fire Suppression

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.

How to constantly monitor liquefied gaseous extinguishing systems 24/7

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. It gives a facility total visibility on the real-time status of all their critical fire systems. Modern fire suppression systems have transformed industry safety across all sectors. However, the development of their servicing and monitoring equipment has remained stagnant, with many very advanced systems relying totally on annual inspections, or on unreliable mechanical pressure gauges. These methods leave the status of fire suppression systems completely vulnerable between annual checks. 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 24/7 remote access to system status – enables the operator to monitor each cylinder point in real time. The ability to retrofit into existing systems which eliminates downtime as the system does not have to be disconnected/deactivated provides ease and simplicity to be installed across hundreds of cylinders present in a particular site.

How to test Room Integrity

Where Portalevel® and Pemalevel® deals with the clean agent contents, Coltraco Ultrasonics has also designed and manufactured a device to monitor the enclosure integrity at which the clean agent discharges into. Prior to the installation of a clean agent extinguishing system, fire installers are required to determine the enclosure’s “hold time” in order to comply with regulations such as BS EN ISO 14520 and to ensure the enclosure is able to contain the released clean agent for a sufficient period of time in order to extinguish fires. This relies on the identification of leak sites within an enclosure and subsequently sealing them to improve the “hold time” when necessary. Coltraco Ultrasonics manufactures the Portascanner™ 520 which comprises of an ultrasound generator and ultrasound receiver whereby the ultrasound generator is left in an enclosure and the receiver is used to scan the enclosure seals to identify leak sites. This allows effective identification of leak sites and overall contribute to an increased reliability of a clean agent fire suppression system. A semi-permanent option is also available to monitor leak sites continuously, typically in old, grade listed buildings whereby protection from fire is of absolute importance.

Conclusion: Safesite® fire safety solutions

Coltraco Ultrasonics is a company that demonstrates their commitment to developing and supporting safety systems and test equipment with their customer and the end application in mind, founded on science and pursuit of mathematical justification such as their practice to precisely cite accuracy i.e. they achieve +/-1.5mm level of contents accuracy and identify leak sites as small as 0.06mm +/-0.02mm. This is a key contribution the company makes to the industry over their competitors, backed up by 30 years’ experience, operating in 108 countries and life-time customer care.

Markets Coltraco Ultrasonics Operate In

Oil & Gas

We have units in operation on rigs, platforms and offshore support vessels around the globe, notably on approximately 160 of the North Sea rigs overtime, as well as with onshore drilling, exploration and production operations. Portalevel® MAX provides drilling operators, contractors and owners, down to the OIMs and barge managers with the assurance and confidence that their fire suppression systems are operating under an enhanced safety management plan.

Marine

Coltraco’s history is steeped in the Marine sector and Toda Ship Owners, Managers and Operators, Port Authorities, P&I Clubs, Towage & Salvage Operators, Shipyards and Service Stations and Marine Surveyors are among our key customers around the world. We have developed products and diversified our range to serve our customers’ needs and Portalevel® MAX is our latest upgrade.

Fire Protection

The Portalevel has been leading in the fire safety and protection sector since we first invented it in1987 and with the 8th generation model Portalevel MAX, we are pleased to offer an enhanced means of testing and certifying fire suppression systems. This ultrasonic liquid level indicator uses safe and clean technology. Portalevel® MAX aims to reduce time and cost; it is a must-have tool for fire system protection and we have the technical know-how and credentials to verify this

Power Generation

Power plants, transmission sub-stations and distribution networks need to minimize the risks of fire at all costs. For safety critical areas such as nuclear power generation, and the conventional fossil fuel power generation, Portalevel® MAX provides a further means of improving the safety management and preventative maintenance procedures of the fire suppression systems.

Defense

Government organizations and Defense forces around the globe, particularly Naval Forces and Coast Guards, have been using Coltraco equipment for over 20 years. These capabilities are focused upon Safety & Survey applications such as monitoring Naval vessel and Fleet Auxiliary vessel Halon 1301, typically using Portalevel to monitor contents of FM-Halon, FM-200™, CO2 & NOVEC™ 1230 systems.

The Two Principles

If you are an end user, to provide an additional means to check your systems more frequently, outside the regulatory certification checks and enhance your safety management, this ultrasonic level indicator is the best choice.

If you are a servicing company, to conduct certified testing in compliance with regulations, the Portalevel is approved and certified with proven accuracy up to +/-1.5mm and to save 75% of the time to complete testing when compared to weighing cylinders. Moreover, data centres, telecommunications centres, High Rise Buildings, MTR rooms, and others are good for this device to measure the liquid levels.
Please Download PDF for further information or contact Coltraco’s Customer Service, if you want to know if Portalevel® MAX will work with your applications.

3 Reasons Why You Should Monitor Your CO2 systems

Here are 3 reasons why you should monitor your CO2 system:

  • CO2 leaks
  • A fire starts every 7 seconds around the world
  • Insufficient CO2 could mean failure of extinguishment in the event of a fire

How can you protect yourself and your facilities?
Here is a LOW COST constant monitoring device for CO2 fire systems. It is called Permalevel® LOAD WEIGH. 

Why a Safesite® solution for you:

  • Easier – automatic alarm in the event of CO2 leakage
  • Better – don’t wait for one annual check, monitor 24/7, 265 days a year
  • Cheaper – highly competitive pricing

This is a must have because of this flexibility in the Permalevel® LOAD WEIGH’s applications, from data centres, tall buildings, museums, hotels to industrial sector. 
Discover more today:

Permalevel® Multiplex Technical Specifications

Here are some of the features you can avail with this fire suppression system developed with the help of ultrasonic liquid level indicator.

  • Power Supply: 95V - 260V
  • UPS Lifetime: UP to 24 Hours
  • Analogue Relay Output: 4-20mA
  • Sensor Dimensions: D35mm X H35mm
  • Digital Output: RS232/ RS485
  • Operational Humidity Range: 0-80%
  • External Case Mental: Aluminum
  • Channel Sensitivity Controls: Gain (Power Gain), Trip (Alarm Trigger Level) and SPA (Additional Power) Knobs for each Channel
  • Local System Controls: Channel Sheet, View Settings, Channel Calibration, Special Power Application Toggle, Alarm Channel
  • Power Supply Status: Main Power Supply and UPS Active LED Indicators
  • Local Visual Alarms: 4 status LEDs per active Channel, 3 Green LEDs Indicate Signal Level, 1 Red Indicates Alarm
  • Local Display: LCD Screen
  • Operational Temperature Range: -20c - +70c
  • Gross Weight: 6kg
  • External Dimensions: 440mm X 350mm X 13mm
  • Max Sensor Cable Length: 5m

For further information, contact Coltraco Customer Support

Protecting your crew: using ultrasonics to create the Safeship®

The NTSB have recently investigated the cause of the 2015 El Faro disaster. SS El Faro was a United States-flagged, combination roll-on/roll-off and lift-on/lift-off cargo ship crewed by U.S. merchant mariners. All 33 crew members tragically died in the sinking, when El Faro sailed from Jacksonville into Hurricane Joaquin, while heading to Puerto Rico. The wreckage was discovered more than 15,000 feet below the sea surface, Northeast of Acklins and Crooked Island, Bahamas.

The NTSB have concluded that gaps in safety management contributed to the sinking of the El Faro. One of the significant issues was “poor watertight integrity which allowed seawater into the ship” stating that this accident may have been avoided if “crew had more information about the status of the hatches”.

In fact, in the SOLAS Reg II-1/11.1 it states that hatches and watertight seals must be regularly tested: “Where a hose test is not practicable [sic] it may be replaced by [sic] an ultrasonic leak test or an equivalent test. In any case a thorough inspection of the watertight bulkheads shall be carried out.” The tragedy of the El Faro has exemplified why it is crucial for the watertight integrity of vessels to be regularly and easily tested by the crew. The importance of continually maintaining seal integrity must take a more prominent position in ship maintenance scheduling.

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 Portascanner WATERTIGHT allows crew member to check for failing seals whilst at sea which allows for prompt maintenance.

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.

Ultrasonic Hatch Cover and Watertight Integrity Tester by Coltraco

Coltraco Ultrasonics  create accurate, reliable and easy to use instrumentation, which enhance our customers' safety management. The issue is not just about compliance with the regulations; it is about creating the safe ship helping our customers to ensure lower risk, higher protection and business continuity. Coltraco believes in prior safety measuring steps for safety's sake.

Portascanner WATERTIGHT® is a portable ultrasonic watertight integrity indicator and hatch cover tester – for testing watertight and weather-tight seals. It is ideal for checking the hatch-covers, doors, cable transit areas, scuttles, flanges, shell doors, steering gear hatches and many others. Primarily designed to enhance the ease and accuracy with which critical watertight, airtight or weather tight seals can be inspected for leaks sites or areas of reduced compression in the seal.

These are standard features, which are provided to the customers across the world.

  • Three years warranty
  • Lifetime Support
  • Calibration and Training Certificates Available
  • Identifies leaks as small as 0.06 +/- 0.02mm
  • Non-intrusive ultrasonic technology
  • 10 hour battery life
  • Class Approved
  • No Fuss Setup
  • Magnetically Mountable

Portascanner® Kit Contents

For your ease, we have developed an image assuring you regarding the content you will find in the new Coltraco Portascanner WATERTIGHT Package, a high quality hatch cover maintenance and watertight integrity testing device.

  • Durable Carrying Case
  • Headphone Set to minimize ambient noise and to hear audible readings
  • Portascanner WATERTIGHT Generator for multiple use and flexible applications
  • Operating Instructions, Calibration Certificate, Training DVD
  • Sensor Extension Rod to detect the integrity readings
  • Portascanner® WATERTIGHT Receiver to relate results into audible and visual readings

For further information, Download PDF

Innovate Showcase 2017 with Live Permalevel® MULTIPLEX Demonstration

Coltraco were delighted to have been awarded Innovate Showcase UK 2017 in November!

INNOVATE 2017 displayed the best of UK innovation through:

  • Meeting global creators, thinkers, investors, and entrepreneurs
  • A place where ideas collide
  • A place to do deals, be inspired, network and discover future-focused thought leaders
  • A chance to hear captivating speakers and see game-changing innovations for the first times.

 At INNOVATE 2017 our Head of Marketing and Communications and Research and Development Manager demonstrated live the world’s first ultrasonic constant monitoring system for extinguishing gases - the Permalevel® MULTIPLEX to support the offshore energy, power generating and fire sectors.

  • We are proud to have been chosen as a British innovator 
  • demonstrating the best of British technology and 
  • supporting Global Britain and 
  • showcasing our commitment to
    • professional manufacturing, 
    • Government/Business relations, 
    • development of STEM at Universities and 
    • bringing young people into industry.

Portasonic® Ultrasonic Flow Meter by Coltraco Ultrasonics

The Portasonic® is a handheld portable clamp-on transit time flow meter device for accurate flow measurement from outside a pipe – especially for fire protection water sprinkler and fire hydrant systems. The unique clamp-on fixture makes installation straightforward, requireing no special tools or skills and due to the non-invasive nature of clamp-on transducers, there is no pressure drop, no moving parts, no leak and no risk of contamination or corrosion. This ultrasonic flow meter is 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.

  • Works on almost any liquid
  • Lifetime Support
  • Calibration and training certificates available
  • Ultrasonic Technology

Operating Method of Portable Ultrasonic Flow Meter

Transit Time flow meters utilize two transducers that function as both ultrasonic transmitters and receivers. The transducers are clamped on the outside of a vertical or horizontal pipe at a specific distance calculated by the instrument. The elapsed time of this ultrasonic flow meter between transmitted and received signals varies very slightly depending on whether the signal is traveling upstream or downstream and by comparing these time differences an accurate calculation of the flow rate is possible and is displayed in your choice of engineering units. As the ultrasonic beam crosses the pipe, compensation for laminar or turbulent flow is automatic.

Depending on the application and flow profile, the transducers can be mounted in V-method in which case the ultra sound transverses the pipe twice, the W-method in which case the ultra sound transverses the pipe four times or the Z-method in which case the transducers are mounted on opposite sides of the pipe and the ultra sound transverses the pipe only once. These modes are automatically selected by the instrument and are also user selectable. (X) Letter denotes the distance between the transducers, which is automatically calculated by the instrument at setup depending on the inputted application data.

For further information, Download PDF

Benefits of Portapipe®, Pipework Integrity Tester

  • Simple

Highly intuitive operation enabling regular testing

  • Portable

Multiple readings can be made using one device at no extra cost, making it a great value for money product.

  • Low Cost

Multiple readings can be made using one device at no extra cost

  • No Training Costs

Free-of-charge online, telephone and email training support through- life.

  • Cost Effective

The most mathematically accurate watertight integrity test indicator with dual decibel & linear display

  • Instant Results

User receives instant feedback regarding the focused area.

  • Greater Testing average

The ability to test multiple locations throughout the pipes length provides a more reliable thorough view of the integrity of the system.

  • Focus at Problem Areas

The user can target suspected areas in more detail

  • Non-Destructive

The testing method causes no damage to the existing system.

  • Operating Method of Coltraco Portapipe®

The Portapipe® by Coltraco has two main components: a generator and receiver with two wands. The generator of this portable ultrasonic pipework integrity test indicator is attached to the detection rod; the rod is then sealed into the opening of a drained pipe system using the sealing plug.

The ultrasonic generator is then switched on and emits a specific frequency of ultrasound (40,000 Hz). The operator then uses the receiver at multiple locals along the pipe's length in order to indicate the integrity of the pipe's structure. Results: A higher reading will be seen at a leak or weak area.

For inquiry or further information, contact Coltraco Customer Care.

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.

Sprinkler Flow Testing – Why Choose Portasonic®FLOW?

Problem

For a business and property owner, protecting against potentially catastrophic results of fire such as life loss, property damage and loss of assets is a common challenge.

Automatic sprinkler systems are used more than any other fixed fire protection system and over 40 million sprinklers are fitted world-wide each year to deal with this problem.

However, if sprinkler systems are not periodically inspected for mechanical deficiencies, proper function, valve actuation, water flow, sprinkler clearances, etc., the system may not be effective during a fire. Corrosion can cause a sprinkler system and fire hydrant systems to fail due to blockages and failed sprinkler heads.

NFPA 258 provides required inspection, testing and maintenance for a sprinkler system.

Traditional Solutions

One method of flow measurement is wet testing, in which water is sprayed through to prove its compliance, yet this can cause deposits, contamination and blockages.

Coltraco’s Smart Solution – the Portasonic® FLOW

In response to customer demands for a non-invasive, non-contaminating and cost-effective solution, Coltraco developed the portable ultrasonic flow meter: Portasonic®.

  • Provides accurate flow measurement from outside of the sprinkler pipe.
  • Easy digital set up makes it both cost and time effective.
  • Unique clamp-on fixture design – installation is straightforward.
  • No pressure drop, no moving parts, no leaks and no risks of contamination/corrosion.
  • Offers 3 different modes of operation so can be used in a variety of different environments.
  • Ensures full integrity of the sprinkler system through the ability to conduct spot checks at mandated intervals.
  • Can be used for extended continuous operation as a 4-20mA flow transmitter with AC power input.
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Call: +44 207 629 8475

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Email: sales@coltraco.co.uk

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