We are excited to announce our new partnership with Applied Technical Services, LLC (ATS), which became effective September 1, 2023. Founded in 1967, ATS strategic business units offers services in Metallurgy and Materials Testing, Chemical Analysis, Nondestructive Testing, Forensic and Consulting Engineering, Asset Integrity, Accident Reconstruction, Mechanical Testing, and Calibration services. ATS industry sectors include power generation, aerospace, oil and gas, automotive, defense, nuclear, construction, chemical, manufacturing, and life science.
ATS has been actively investing in its existing business as well as acquiring other businesses for over 20 years. The ATS Family of Companies is comprised of 31 companies with over 75 locations across the United States, and plans to continue growing through organic investments and additional acquisitions. The company is highly decentralized and provides its’ managers with significant autonomy to meet customer needs. PNL’s personnel remain and are now supported by a highly experienced corporate team with shared core values to supplement our already effective technical capabilities.
ATS offers a system of quality programs, accreditations, and certifications that include ISO 9001-2015, ISO/IEC 17025:2017, 10CFR 50 Appendix B, 10 CFR Part 21, ASME NQA-1, ANSI/NCSL Z540-1, NADCAP, and FAA Repair Stations.
PNL and ATS are a great fit and we look forward to our collaboration enlarging the scope of capabilities within other industry sectors, via access to more testing equipment, sharing a network of talent, access to new markets, increase of services, and a larger west coast presence.
For more information about ATS, please visit their website at www.atslab.com.
Mental health in the workplace has arrived center stage as a universal issue, especially in the aftermath of COVID-19 pandemic reverberations worldwide. The effects of lowered applicant pools and high turnover in the workforce are at an all-time high. The labor force functions under increased economic hardship, social, cultural, and family demands.
Finding ways to alleviate or remove stressors in the workplace to the greatest extent possible, build coping and resiliency supports, and ensuring that people who need help know where to turn, is essential. Reducing workplace stress benefits everyone throughout an organization.
Senior managers can help workers by being aware and acknowledging that their supervisors and other workers may be experiencing heightened levels of loneliness, isolation, uncertainty, grief, and stress, and that some workers face extra demands, such as working parents, those caring for the elderly, medically vulnerable, or disabled family members, and those with existing mental health or substance use challenges. Workers who proactively value their mental health should attend support groups, exercise, meditate, find religious affiliation, seek talk therapy, prioritize their diet, sleep, and seek positive social interactions to create work life balance.
Research demonstrates that managers who employ awareness, give positive recognition, show empathy, provide access to support networks, avoid using negative language, transparency, stay positive, listen without judgement, and model exemplary behavior are of optimal value to their employees who may not be thriving.
PNL supports mental health for its’ employees by offering a substantial paid time off and medical benefits, having flexible work schedules wherever possible, and has instituted quarterly employee coaching sessions to address employees’ unknown concerns, and offer the opportunity to vent and communicate with their supervisors without fear of retribution. Managers are asked by employees how they can improve their behavior. This practice increases morale and leads to increased productivity, fewer sick days, better focus, fewer workplace injuries, enhanced quality of life, and improved physical health.
This month we interviewed one of our technicians, Zander Zuran, who is an AWS Certified Welding Inspector, and Level II NDE technician with multiple certifications including Ultrasonics and Radiography. We will focus on the way he maintains his mental health in the very demanding schedule inherent in any service industry, especially the inspection and testing world.
What are the things you do to maintain your mental health during busy times?
There are several things I do. First, I work with the scheduling team to let them know that I have certain scheduled personal activities that, if I don’t attend, will put me in a negative mind set, affecting my availability and performance. Second, I make sure I get plenty of rest during my time off, third, I try to maintain a healthy diet, and fourth, I work out regularly and have an active lifestyle.
With our busy periods, it is not always possible to schedule time off at convenient intervals, so how do you deal with having to cancel or rearrange your scheduled personal activities, when a client requests service during one of these times?
This is not always easy, but, I have come to the realization that the world is not rigid and requires adjustments. While it is inconvenient, I let my activity people know my situation, and that I am committed to getting back to the activity as soon as possible, and that I make sure to do so, just as soon as I am available. I also, work with our scheduling team to let them know that missing an activity or two can be tolerated, but that, if it becomes chronic, I will not be available. The scheduling team has a tough job, but they do as much as possible to accommodate my needs, and theirs.
Explain how you adjust your sleeping habits when working lots of overtime and your shift changes from day to day, which happens from time to time?
I just try to grab sleep whenever I can.
What is your diet looking like lately and how has that contributed to your mental health?
I am eating lean meats and vegetables and drinking a lot of water. I cut back on soda and coffee tremendously. I used to drink several sodas and coffee all day, but now I eliminated soda and don’t drink any coffee after noon. This has helped my sleep, especially, when I need to go to bed early, because of an early shift time. I also feel better both mentally and physically. I think the extra water really helps.
What do your work outs look like and when do you find the time?
I work out 2 to 3 times a week at Lifetime Fitness with my fiancé. I typically do 30 minutes resistance training followed by 30 minutes of cardio. We work out at different times depending on our work schedules, either before or after work and on weekends. Lifetime is open from 4am to midnight seven days a week so, that makes it convenient.
In 1800, Sir William Herschel, a British-German astronomer and composer, was conducting an experiment when he placed a thermometer outside the red end of the visible spectrum, meant to measure the ambient room temperature. He found that this ‘ambient’ temperature was higher than the temperature measured in the visible spectrum, eventually concluding that there is an invisible form of light beyond the visible spectrum, now known as the infrared (IR) spectrum.
IR thermography, also commonly known as IR testing, thermal testing or thermal imaging, is a form of nondestructive, contact-less testing that measures temperature variances of a component as heat (i.e., thermal radiation) flows through, from, or to a component. Everything above absolute zero emits some amount of infrared radiation invisible to the naked eye. Infrared thermography captures the radiation, converts it into a temperature and displays a thermal image called a thermogram, which displays variations in temperature with different colors or shades of gray.
Thermogram of electrical connection
Infrared thermography has a wide array of applications such as:
Predictive maintenance: Thermal imaging is used to detect abnormalities in equipment, such as overheating components, which can signify impending failures.
Building inspections: Thermographic images can identify heat losses, moisture intrusion, and structural issues by visualizing temperature differences in walls, roofs, and floors.
Electrical systems: By monitoring electrical cabinets and components, thermography can detect hot spots caused by loose connections or overloaded circuits, preventing potential failures or fires.
Fluid systems: Infrared cameras can detect blockages or leaks in pipelines by observing temperature variations.
Roofing: Infrared imaging helps identify wet insulation in flat roofs by spotting areas of heat retention.
Risk management strategies: By understanding vulnerabilities in infrastructure displayed by infrared imaging, risk managers can implement predictive and preventative maintenance plans to reduce the risk of serious issues like fire, leaks, or machinery breakdown.
FLIR E 96
While the industrial construction of infrastructure and the fabrication of components and systems is governed by statutory codes, standards, and specifications, determining their useful life is not as well controlled or documented. Most constructed or fabricated items are covered by limited warranties of 5 years or less, but many purchasers will have life expectancies of 30 to 50 years or more. It is often left to the purchasers to determine the best maintenance procedures and integrity inspections that are needed to assure a component’s safe and reliable use. Codes of construction include AWS D1 series of welding codes, API 1104 and ASME B31 series of piping codes, ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Codes, AWWA and API tank standards. These codes and standards do not address damage mechanisms such as corrosion, erosion, fatigue, embrittlement, or wear which can contribute to a component failing, but in fact, leave it to the user to determine the types of damage that might be incurred, how often to inspect for it, and whether it is acceptable for reliable use.
To address this issue, the American Petroleum Institute (API) has developed several standards that can be applied to determining the integrity of materials and components. These include API 653 for above ground atmospheric tanks, API 510 for pressure vessels, and API 570 for piping systems. These standards provide guidance to owners of equipment on when, where, and how to inspect in order to determine integrity and predict life expectancy. While the standards were originally designed to address issues in the petroleum industry, they can be applied to many industries and codes of construction, provided that the organizations using them have access to engineering and inspection personnel technically trained and experienced in the design and use of the components being evaluated.
All three standards are similarly organized and offer guidance on inspection frequency and location as well as the types of inspections that would be typically based on historical experience with component failures. Each standard also provides guidance on determining suitability for continued service including calculations for estimating remaining life.
When and Where to Inspect?
Inspection frequencies are based on known past experience and failures of components and include provisions for both monthly routine inspections and more detailed periodic inspections which are based on many factors including the nature of the product or products stored or transported, risks to humans, the methods of original construction and materials used, repair history, operating conditions, preventative features such as coatings or linings, leak detection systems, the potential risk of air or water pollution, and jurisdictional requirements.
Monthly routine in-service inspections are to be conducted by close visual examination of the components from the ground by owner/operator personnel knowledgeable with the operations and characteristics of the products stored, used, or transported. The primary purpose of these inspections is to observe conditions for signs of problems or potential problems.
Periodic inspections are conducted by certified inspection personnel authorized by the owner/operator to conduct inspections. These inspections may be conducted annually, bi-annually, at 5-year intervals, 10-year intervals or longer. Certified inspection personnel typically consist of API Certified 510, 570, and 653 inspectors who oversee and approve the inspection activities. These inspectors are often assisted by other certified inspection and testing personnel such as certified welding inspectors, nondestructive testing technicians, and engineering technicians. The purpose of these inspections is to examine the systems and components in a manner that could reveal problems that may not be obvious during routine in-service inspections. Periodic inspections may be performed while components are in-service or when they have been taken out of service.
Inspections are conducted both externally and internally as conditions and history warrants. Additionally, nondestructive methods are employed to assess conditions to areas not accessible, such as the underside of tank bottoms, under insulation, or inherent to the material the component is constructed with.
Many inspection methods are used to evaluate the integrity of the components and systems, or the effect the product has on them. Regardless of the methods employed, all of the standards require detailed Visual Inspections using checklists based on the products and processes being used. These checklists are developed and evaluated together by the owner/operators along with certified inspection personnel.
Additional tests and inspections can include ultrasonic thickness measurements (UTT), ultrasonic phased array examinations (UTPA), radiographic examinations (RT), magnetic flux leakage tests of tank bottoms (MFL), pulsed eddy current and guided wave examinations for components that are insulated (PEC, GUL), environmental couponing, and magnetic particle (MT) or liquid penetrant examinations (PT). These tests are conducted at areas having known susceptibility or history of damage that is detectable using the appropriate methods.
Suitability for Service
Once the inspections and tests have been completed the results are analyzed and evaluated to determine the suitability for continued service as well as to determine inspection frequencies based on the extent of damage found along with calculated damage rates. It is important for the owner operator to document and archive all inspections and changes to operating conditions including start-ups and shut downs as this information is invaluable in assessing the type of damage that can be expected as well as predicting the rates they occur.
At the conclusion of any asset integrity inspection, a detailed report is prepared and provided to the owner/operator detailing the types of inspections and tests conducted, the results found, any required repairs needed, and recommendations for continued service including the next inspection interval.
Inspection of assets is a valuable tool for mitigating risks and predicting expected life of materials and components. It protects human life while providing information for owners/operators to budget for maintenance, repairs, replacements based on actual conditions. The methods and standards provided by API 510, 570, and 653 can be applied to many components including tanks, process piping, pressure vessels, and structural components including solar, sign, and light structures. Phoenix National Laboratories provides inspections on all of these components and together as part of the Applied Technical Services Family of Companies has a vast array of experienced and certified personnel across the US to service your asset integrity needs.
For more information or receive a quote please contact our office via phone, email, or through our website.
Telephone: 602-431-8887 or 800-605-1180
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