October 23, 2015
Non-destructive testing techniques are key in the certification of pressure equipment. The evaluation techniques appraise the integrity of the manufacturing process, gauge the mechanical quality of materials used in the fabrication process, and thus form the basis for the commissioning of the manufactured vessel and its component parts.
It's a complex task, but the evaluation of possible mechanical defects is perhaps the most important phase of the design process. Much effort has gone into the pure geometry of the vessel, into creating a form that uniformly distributes pressure throughout the chamber, but if invisible defects do exist, no amount of engineering mathematics will prevent the integrity of the part from being compromised over time. Such defects could have disastrous effects on the vessel once it's installed and operating at its design pressure. After all, the welds, the crystalline substructure of the metal, all other discrete parts and relevant fixtures, they have to function as one when handling stresses incurred by pressurized fluids and gases. That stored material is likely to possess explosive potential, and a quantifiable pressure equipment inspection must be in place to catch defects and eliminate potential catastrophe. In short, mathematical surety is wonderful, but practical applications requires a more defined assurance phase, one that's lawfully regulated by local authorities in order to guarantee an ordained safety margin.
The AICIP accredited inspection routines and pressure equipment management strategies incorporated by a conscientious engineering establishment represent a major application of company resources when invoking pressure equipment inspection expertise, but they don't show the full picture when setting out to document a comprehensive life cycle evaluation. Life cycle is directly shaped by equipment geometry and material selection, the welding techniques and fabrication processes we've just covered, but there's a great deal more to the technique than these factors. The final installation point is key in composing the evaluation. It factors in the location of the equipment, whether it will be above ground or installed below the surface. Environmental conditions affect life cycle figures, as do the material being stored in the pressure vessel. For example, the acidity of the soil will greatly reduce the life cycle of the equipment when the unit is buried under a mound of erosive soil and moisture. Cathodic protection assemblies may have to be added as a supplemental sacrificial anode to eliminate this threat and maintain the integrity of the vessel.
Inspection techniques call upon technology to measure material thickness with ultrasonic instruments and check the very crystalline substructure of the alloy. Meanwhile, the pressure equipment inspection process receives a boost of common sense from the installation site. Another example of this life extending ethic is the addition of rubber buffer plates to the equipment, vibration absorbers that protect the gear in seismically active regions.
Fusion - Weld Engineering Pty Ltd
ABN 98 068 987619
1865 Frankston Flinders Road,
Hastings, VIC 3915
Ph: (03) 5909 8218
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