Like any assets, your fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP) pipes, tanks, scrubbers and ducts should be inspected regularly for structural integrity — and the more accurate a picture that inspection gives you, the better. Miss a defect, and you risk a leak or blow-out. Replace a vessel before you need to, however, and you’re throwing away money.
So let’s talk about the best way to assess FRP.
Current methods are costly — and often subjective
Currently, there are no widely accepted standards for FRP inspection. Most companies rely subjective visual inspections. That means taking your asset out of operation — sometimes for several weeks, if it normally contains toxic or corrosive material — and then bringing in an expert to scrutinize the interior for cracks, gouges, blisters and abrasions in the corrosion barrier.
Inspectors will give you their best opinion based on what they see, but they’re not drawing on hard data. Essentially, it’s like deciding whether you need to replace your current car by looking at the paint job.
The other alternative is destructive testing, which involves removing a small a sample of your pipe or tank and subjecting it to various assessments. Although you’ll get accurate results, this method compromises the structural integrity of your asset, creating holes that must be addressed before bringing your equipment back into operation. And like visual inspections, it requires taking your equipment offline.
At UTComp, we’ve developed a faster, more reliable and less intrusive way to inspect FRP assets.
UltraAnalytix® means no destruction, no guesswork and no down time
Our proprietary, non-destructive approach uses low-energy ultrasonic pulses to reveal features and changes in both the structural layer and the corrosion barrier — often things that can’t be seen by the naked eye. In many ways, it’s similar to the ultrasonic testing specified in the inspection standards for steel storage tanks (API 653) and piping systems (API 570).
UltraAnalytix® can accurately detect oxidation damage, resin swelling, thermal expansion, micro-cracking and more, all in a fraction of the time required for visual inspections or destructive testing. (In one case, for example, we inspected 1,000 metres of FRP ductwork in just three days.) And because we can conduct the assessment from the exterior without compromising accuracy, you don’t need to take equipment offline.
Comprehensive, evidence-based reports
Back in the office, we’ll process that raw data to determine the thickness, strength (flexular modulus) and defects of the FRP and the condition of its corrosion barrier. By comparing those measurement to previous readings, we can achieve highly accurate predictions of how much service life your FRP asset has left. If there’s no baseline, we’ll draw on the extensive database we’ve built up over the past 20 years to create a conservative projection.
We’ll also recommend how soon your asset should be assessed again (typically every three years and then more frequently towards the end of its life cycle). Finally, if our tests reveal any issues, we’ll detail those and provide recommendations on how to address them.
As a result, you can develop robust asset management plans and capital budgets well before your equipment needs replacing.
Learn more about how UTComp can help you manage your FRP assets with confidence. Call us at 519-620-0772 or email us at inquiries@UTComp.com.