Collaborative relationship is good for customers and good for business
Nordic Glasfiber is a Denmark-based composite inspection company with more than 20 years of experience within design, engineering and manufacturing of glass-reinfored plastic (GRP) tanks, silos and flue gas systems in the fields of chemical, food, sewage and energy processing. Through inspection and maintenance Nordic Glasfiber serves facility owners in optimizing the performance of their composite assets.
Q: What impact has UltraAnalytix NDT had on the industry and your customers? How is it different from what you were doing before?
A: We started working with UltraAnalytix in 2017. Of course, among our clients there were first movers who wanted to learn about this new tool and how it could help them in their fitness for service evaluations. Now we see customers coming back for additional asset evaluations and also to repeat previous inspections. Customers like that UltraAnalytix provides an objective analysis of their FRP assets — not just a visual assessment of the surface, but actually a quantitative process that is calculating the condition of the laminate. With UltraAnalytix, now we have a tool that can be that can be effectively used to plan future inspections, repairs or replacement of equipment made from composite materials.
Q: Is there a particular UltraAnalytix NDT inspection job that stands out for you? Why?
A: I particularly remember a job involving a transmission line, a pressure pipe that transports CO2. The main parts of the pipe had been in operation for approximately 35 years. The outer surface was heavily degraded due to UV radiation, and large parts of the pipe had exposed fibers — fiber blooming. Despite this, the pipe was generally fit for service and with a remaining service of more than 10 years. Replacing the pipe would have been a very complicated task, partly because of accessibility but especially because it was a supply line for several production units on the site, and short downtime is essential when switching from the old to the new pipe. UltraAnalytix inspection gave the customer confidence in the pipe so its replacement could be planned with minimal inconvenience.
Q: Is there an example of an assessment that clearly shows the value of the UltraAnalytix system in terms of insights for the customer compared to other methods?
A: A power plant wanted to rebuild an existing flue gas scrubber. Therefore, they needed knowledge of the condition of the laminate, so that an assessment could be made of whether the scrubber had the necessary remaining life, but also whether it could carry the additional weight from the conversion. No method other than UltraAnalytix could provide this information economically. The alternative would have involved destructive testing of several cutouts which would probably result in weakening the scrubber.
I’ve had visual inspections where I looked at the surface of a piece of equipment and thought, oh my God, buy a new one. But then the UltraAnalytix assessment found only very limited damage to the surface of the laminate, maybe a half to one millimeter deep, so it’s fit for service. Recently I completed an inspection of a three-year-old scrubber, 10 meters in diameter and 30 meters high, with a nice glossy surface that we would normally say, yes, this looks good. But then we test it with UltraAnalytix and it shows a PDS (Percentage of Design Stiffness) of just 50-60 per cent. That’s quite a large decrease in just three years of operation. It should have been at least 65, not 50. So you cannot tell just from looking at the surface.
Q: What’s it like working with UTComp as an UltraAnalytix licensee? What impact has it had on your business?
A: The collaboration with UTComp has been very rewarding. Partly, it has given us a new and insightful view of the fitness for service of fiberglass. As a small company, it is also valuable to have a business partner with whom you can discuss observations.
Q: Are there any new developments for your business that you’d like to share?
A: Demand for our inspection services is growing and as a small business it is a big decision to hire an additional employee. Despite this, we have just doubled the workforce here at Nordic Glasfiber and we’re expecting additional growth in the coming years.
Q: What new developments, challenges or opportunities do you see ahead for the industry in general?
A: Only a very small proportion of tanks, silos, etc. are made from fiberglass composites, compared to equipment made from metal alloys. The opportunities for growth for all parts of the industry are therefore huge. The limiting factors are to a large extent lack of knowledge about both the material itself and production methods for FRP. Construction codes and design standards that have been in place for years provide limited guidance for inspections of FRP equipment once it is in service. With UltraAnalytix, we can perform an objective third party inspection and Fitness for Service evaluation to give asset owners additional certainty and peace of mind that their equipment will continue to perform as expected without the need for destructive testing or confined-space entry. These advantages will become even more important as the industry responds to evolving environmental and regulatory regimes in many sectors.
Case study: cogeneration plant HCl scrubber tank
In 2019, Nordic Glasfiber assessed a hydrogen chloride (HCl) scrubber tank at a combined heat-power plant owned by one of Denmark’s largest district heating companies. The client wanted to know the condition and remaining lifespan of the 20-year-old vessel and whether it was suitable for adding another stage to the HCl scrubbing process. Read the case study.