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Coltraco Commitment To :

  • Through-life maintenance support
  • We still maintain units built 20 years ago
  • Extend trade-in credits - replace old units for new
  • UL listing & ABS type approval - Portalevel™ MAX
  • ABS type approval & RINA approval - Portascanner™
  • Be a life-safety technology partner – Permalevel™
  • Certified OEM calibration & ODA service stations

Coltraco manufacture Ultrasonics That Work

How can ultrasound protect your vessel against water ingress?

The Swedish P& I club recommend using Ultrasound. As stated in their 2018 report “A much more effective method is to use an ultrasonic device, which is designed for this purpose and can pinpoint the area which is leaking, and if the compression of the gasket is sufficient. The advantages of using this type of equipment are evident, since ultrasonic tests can be carried out during any stage of the loading without risking cargo damage. The test can also be completed in sub-zero temperatures. The ultrasonic test should be carried out as per the class requirements.” 

 Ultrasonic testing is a dramatically more sensitive, accurate and reliable method for testing cargo hatch covers, bulkheads and doors for watertight integrity testing on all vessels. A multi-directional ultrasound emitter is placed in a hold. The opening being tested is then sealed and the receiver switched on ready to receive any leakage of ultrasound via a set of headphones. An increased reading of ultrasound signal signifies an issue with the integrity of the door/hatch. Further, and closer inspection will allow identification of any specific leakage sight along with the severity. This test will take approximately 10 minutes and requires only one operator. 

 Ultrasonic is proven to be the quickest, easiest and most efficient method of testing watertight & weather-tight seals of hatch-covers, doors, multiple cable transits area testing. 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.  

Coltraco Ultrasonic 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.

Comply with ISO 14520: Check your Compartmentation

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™ Integrity Test Indicator alongside the Door Fan Testing for a complete and comprehensive regulatory room test. Ideal for precise leak detection, Portascanner™ 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.

Why do you need to calibrate?

Like an annual MOT on your car, calibrations service your equipment to ensure it is as accurate and reliable as when you first purchased it.

How often? In accordance with ISO 17025 for testing and measuring equipment, annual recalibration is recommended for companies complying with this regulation. Whilst there are some companies who offer 5 year calibration certificates, Coltraco Ultrasonics believe that we should follow the guidance set out in the regulations and thus offer 1 year calibration certificates.

Where can you calibrate your unit? Calibrations must be conducted in a Coltraco approved centre: either with us in the UK at the above address or with our ODA (Organisational Delegated Authority) Service Centres overseas.

How long will it take? We will always ensure that the turn-around-time is as short as possible. We aim to have the unit returned to you within a maximum of 10 working days, no matter where in the world our customers are. If required, replacement loan units can be made available for the duration that your unit is away for recalibration.

If your unit has been damaged whilst operating, we can repair it for you. Factory level repairs for the electronics, display module and membrane control panels have to be carried out in our facilities in the UK. Time scales for unit returns may vary depending on the severity of problem. If your unit has been damaged please contact our Support Department with a brief description of the problem and we will organise this for you as quickly as we can.

Fire at Sea: What do the marine insurers say?

The general concern for marine insurers is the growing size of ships and the inadequacy of fire prevention measures on board. As vessels become larger and more sophisticated, a greater financial interest is tied up into one ship, meaning that the risks are magnified if the vessel would get into difficulties e.g. a fire. From a marine insurer's perspective, it is a simple equation: the larger the vessel, the more cargo it will carry, and hence the greater the sum insured.

Much research has been conducted in the statistics of fires at sea. According to the VTT technical research centre in Finland the frequency of fires resulting in a total loss is 〖10〗^(-8) nmi (nautical miles). This is based on the average vessel travelling 60,000 nmi each year. This would mean that if there was only one vessel in the world, it would need to travel 100 million nmi for it to ‘statistically’ have one occurrence of fire resulting in total loss. However, given that there are roughly 55,000 commercial vessels over 1,000 dwt at sea it can be calculated that there is expected to be 33 vessels a year with fire resulting in total loss (calculations below).

Posed threat of loss of crew, vessel and the cargo guidance by the German Insurance Associations has set out an ‘improved concept’ for firefighting facilities on container ships. Vice Chair of the IUMI Loss Prevention Committee, Uwe-Peter Schieder, explained: “We believe a new technical solution is needed to improve current firefighting practice on container vessels, particularly as these ships are continuing to grow in size.”

FIRE EXAMPLES

There are numerous example of fire at sea, with just a few included below:

 (a) MSC Flaminia, 2012

In July 2012, the container ship was exposed to an uncontrollable fire which tragically lead to three fatalities and two severely injured crew members, as well as dire damage to the ship structure and its cargo. In this example, the actuation of the CO2 system failed when it actuated without instruction in the engine room, although the discharge was intended for cargo hold 4, which turned off the auxiliary boiler and auxiliary fan for the main engine. This led to an out of control fire which required three salvage tugs to deal with the effects of the explosions and fire. However, the extent of the fire meant that the salvage teams could not enter the vessel for 4 days. Cargo areas 3-7 in the ship were significantly damaged and the ships structure was weakened, requiring replacement. Under the pressures, the hatch covers lost their integrity and bulkheads were severely damaged which led to water ingress in all the cargo. The ruling from this event has stated that $280 million of liability will be shared as a result of the incident .

2.4 (b) Barzan, 2015

On September 2015, a fire was detected inside one of the cargo holds of Barzan, a Maltese registered container ship. The fixed CO2 system was used but due to a number of leaks in the CO2 line, the required amount of gas did not reach the cargo hold to be effective to smother the fire. The starboard fire main line then developed a large leak at a joint in the under deck passage way and had to be isolated. This restricted the fire-fighting efforts to only the port side, and rendered the starboard side water drenching system unusable. The safety investigation concluded that although the CO2 system and fire mains had been tested satisfactorily prior to the vessel’s delivery in May 2015, the quality of the workmanship had contributed to the subsequent failure of both systems .

Using an ultrasonic liquid level indicator is the only way that the crew can safely test their CO2 without disturbing them. Coltraco Ultrasonics designed the Portalevel® MAX Marine & Portamarine® ultrasonic liquid level indicators, as radioactive units were being phased out. If shipping companies implemented the IMO SOLAS FSS codes by testing safely and quickly (just 30-60 seconds per cylinder) by using liquid level indicators and marine servicing companies were able to do their work without allowing for time pressures, then marine safety would be far safer.

Solutions for any vessels marine gaseous extinguishing system exist:

  • Portalevel® MAX Marine liquid level indicators used by the crew weekly to test for contents
  • Portascanner® WATERTIGHT, watertight integrity test indicators used by the crew to test for compartmentation
  • Portapipe® pipework integrity indicators used to test for pipework obstructions and the Portagauge® thickness gauges for pipework corrosion
  • Compressed air testing of the pipework and flanges to test the pipework system’s ability to withstand the pressures of the gas on actuation (and this is the only test which recommended to be solely the responsibility of a  “responsible” shore-based contractor)

Fires Happen: it’s Time to Act

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 & Marine 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.

“CO2 bottles leak”

Yet although this poses high levels of risk to the service companies and the crew, because gaseous extinguishing systems are highly pressurized, the risk of leaking and discharging is accepted as part of their use and this is shown in the regulations that demand their upkeep e.g. IMO SOLAS FSS Ch5. 2.1.1.3:

“Means shall be provided for the crew to safely check the quantity of the fire extinguishing medium in the container”

Often this is misunderstood, this code specifically states that the crew must test their extinguishing installations in between the periodic inspection, maintenance and certification. Only having the annual inspection by accredited marine servicing companies is not enough – the crew must take responsibility for its own fire protection.  However, what must be noted is that the crew are often not trained or certified to shut-down, dismantle, weigh and re-install the gaseous cylinders – the traditional method.

A Call for Crew to Inspect Fire System Cylinder Contents

Using an ultrasonic liquid level indicator is the only way that the crew can safely test their CO2 without disturbing them. If marine companies implemented the IMO SOLAS FSS codes by testing safely and quickly (just 30-60 seconds per cylinder) by using liquid level indicators and marine servicing companies were able to do their work without allowing for time pressures, then marine safety would be far safer.

Bad industry practice is unacceptable when fire risk may have catastrophic results due to risk to life, downtime in operation due to ship safety and repair work and incalculable reputational damage. The crew, cargo and vessel must be protected when at sea because it is it’s own fire brigade without accessibility to typical emergency services. This is a call to respond to regulations with a rigorous attitude, to go above and beyond, to provide security of life and infrastructure.

How have seals been tested traditionally?

The Swedish Club has released a report warning bulk carrier operators to pay attention to water damage. The 2018 Swedish Club report, Wet Damage on Bulk Carriers, which has been prepared in cooperation with DNV GL, and MacGregor, identifies heavy weather and leaking hatch covers as the most common and the most costly type of wet damage claim. With the average cost for a wet damage cargo claim being almost $110,000, this is alarming.

 According to the report, wrongly applied and poorly maintained cargo Hatch cover testing and sealing systems increase the risk of cargo becoming damaged by water. The most common wet cargo problems include leaking cross joints, and compression bars, rubber gaskets, hatch coamings, drain channels and cleats in poor condition.

 As stressed in the report, proper weathertightness is a key factor in keeping cargo dry. To ensure that the hatch covers are weathertight the sealing system needs to be in a good condition. 

 Chalk testing is used traditionally for visual inspection of the compression integrity of doors and hatches on vessels that hold the potential for flooding. Chalk is applied evenly around the knife edge, coaming compression bars or panel cross seams of doorways. The door/hatch is then closed and sealed. Once re-opened the rubber gasket which pushes against the knife edge is visually inspected for the chalk line. Any breaks in the chalk line indicate a lack of compression in that area. It must be noted that chalk testing is NOT a leak test, but only provides an indication of potential compression issues
 The International Association of Classification Societies states that a chalk test must be followed by a hose test. The hose test is used in conjunction to determine the weather tightness of doors and hatch covers. The spray from a nozzle of 12mm diameter is sprayed from a distance of 1 to 1.5 meters with a water jet pressure of 0.5  This test should help identify any leakage from the hatch joints, although the exact location of the leakage sight cannot be pinpointed. Various drawback come with this test, for instance;

  • The hold is required to be empty as cargo can be damaged by water. This is not always possible and certainly poses more issues once the ship is laden with goods. 
  • The test requires drains to be opened posing a genuine pollution risk. 
  • Two people are required to carry out the test effectively. 
  • Cannot be performed in sub-zero conditions.
  • Water pressure and distance can affect results.
  • Time-consuming.

Both of these tests are time-consuming and sometimes completely impractical. Some circumstances have been highlighted that prevent this test from being conducted such as the hose test if dry cargo is within the hold being tested but these tests conducted at port or in dry dock will never reproduce conditions when the ship is at sea and therefore cannot expect to achieve the same standard. Claims resulting from water damage due to leaking hatch covers still contribute a huge part of the overall loss figures on dry cargo ships. This method is neither accurate nor time effective.
 The accuracy of results is open to human error. The application of the chalk must be very accurate in order to avoid misdiagnosis. A false application of chalk could be construed as a compression issue.

 In fact, the limitations of using chalk and water hose testing have been demonstrated in case studies from the Swedish P&I Club’s Recent Report:

 CASE STUDY 1: 

 Before loading with grain the cargo hatch covers had passed a water hose test. Once the vessel was fully loaded the cargo hatch covers were then sealed with tape. The cargo was mostly damaged underneath the cross-joints. During the voyage the vessel encountered heavy weather at Beaufort scale 10 with large waves and a swell which covered the Hatch cover testing in water.  A visual inspection of the cargo hatch covers, rubber gaskets, securing devices, valves, ventilators and drainage channels found them to be in order. During the voyage the tape by the cross-joints between the forward and aft hatch panels of two holds had peeled off. A chalk test was carried out and this did not show any imprints on the rubber gaskets. At the discharge port it was found that part of the top layer of the cargo in a number of the cargo holds was damaged by seawater. Further investigation revealed that there was no contact between the compression bars and rubber gaskets on the cross-joint panels. In addition, an ultrasonic test identified that the cross-joints between the forward and aft hatch cover were also leaking. 

CASE STUDY 2:

A vessel had loaded wire coils. After loading was complete the crew taped across the transverse beams of all the cargo holds.  The vessel sailed through heavy weather that lasted for about two days. During this time the vessel was pitching and rolling heavily. The cargo hatch covers were covered in water.  When discharging at the destination port it was found that the steel coils in the top tiers were corroded. The coils below the centre line and folding seams were the most affected.  The surveyor tested the water integrity of the cargo hatch covers with an ultrasonic device which detected significant defects to the sealing arrangements. 

  • The surveyor found the following defects: 
  • The gaskets were in poor condition 
  • The non-return valves were clogged and the ball inside was not moving
    The transverse packing on the hatch covers was leaking
  • There were some cracked corners and leaking
  • The ventilation covers were leaking

How does ultrasonic technology cut ungoverned space within the fire industry down?

Our experiences in the fire industry globally have included wonderful ones of professionalism and care from dedicated Fire Engineers and Risk Managers. Many of our products and systems today and others that we have under development are the direct result of advice and guidance that we have received from these very fine Fire Engineers. Set alongside these however are highly concerning anecdotal experiences:

  • Systems portrayed and installed by contractors as NOVEC™ 1230 but filled with sand or water.
  • High pressure gas systems without the means to actuate them.
  • Cheap pressure gauges sticking in position under humidity or mechanical fatigue.
  • Safety pins being retained in position in the cylinder valves after installation.
  • Marine CO2 & Marine CO2 Systems with 20% of the CO2 cylinders installed on commercial shipping being empty or partially filled.
  • Over-filled and under-filled cylinders.
  • Pipework and cylinders freshly painted but with severe internal corrosion.
  • Room integrity testing with questionable results and with the room integrity remaining un-monitored after testing.
  • Liquefied extinguishants being confused by installers with Inert gas systems.
  • There exists a lack of understanding of the organic compounds of some liquid extinguishants and their corrosive effect on the cylinder in the event of condensate ingress.
  • Shipping companies not implementing the FSS code of the IMO SOLAS regulations.
  • We have been regularly asked how to operate portable Portalevel™ liquid level indicators on dry powder extinguishers.

So how does ultrasonic technology cut ungoverned space within the fire industry down?

  • Ultrasound is merely acoustic (sound) energy in the form of waves of high frequency that are above the human audible range.
  • Portascanner™ uses ultrasound to test the integrity of confined spaces and can detect leak sites as small as 0.06mm.
  • Portagauge™ uses ultrasound to test the internal and external corrosion on pipework and cylinder wall thickness to an accuracy of +/-0.1mm.
  • Globally we are known for the design and manufacture of 11 different model types of Portalevel™ liquid level indicators.  Accurate to +/-1.5mm for CO2, FM-200™ , NOVEC™ 1230, HFC-225 & 227, remaining Halon systems, FE-13™, FE-25™ and FE-36™. 

The Main Cause of Vessel Loss is Sinking

As the main cause of vessel loss is sinking, the maintenance, testing and monitoring of watertight hatches, doors and multiple cable transits on vessels is essential. A watertight hatch cover tester is designed to prevent the passage of water in either direction under a head of water for which the surrounding structure is designed.  Many mariners may think hatches are robust, monolithic structures, thereby failing to appreciate the small tolerances on panel alignment and gasket compression. It is better to think of hatches as complex, finely-made structures, to be handled with care.

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.

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 compartment doors testing, 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.  <

Comply with regulations the easy way: ultrasonic

Shipping professionals understand that any marine structure “turns and bends” as it sails, that its extent is affected by its sea, weather and its load states and that as a structure ages its integrity changes and worsens. Today it is possible to continuously monitoring the state of hatch-covers whilst at sea thanks to Coltraco who are developing the first fixed and semi-fixed watertight integrity monitoring systems with remote diagnostics and alarm relay.  Just as the vessel is in a dynamic state, so too a pressurised fire extinguishing gas is affected by temperature and that its cylinder holding structure and its associated pipework corrodes over time. Regular and frequent inspections, above any beyond the regulatory inspections can aide condition monitoring and preventative maintenance. Over 20% of the world’s commercial ships, over 20 leading Navies and many oil and gas platforms and rigs recognise these issues and use Portalevel™ MAX Marine and/or Portascanner™ Watertight as part of their safety management systems. It is the responsibility of the Master to ensure that the vessel is watertight integrity testingthe fire systems in working order, but it is the responsibility of the Owner or Operator to ensure that the Master can achieve this.

These two safety solutions are at the heart of the crew’s ability to comply with regulations. The IMO regulates for the safe operations of ships. The Flag States enforce these. The Classification Societies & PSC inspect these, but it is for the Ship Owners & operators to implement this. Suppliers provide the solutions. Enabling ship owners and operators to access marine technologies to deliver a safely-operated ship and prevent its detention by Port State Control (PSC) Inspection Agencies for non-compliance, is the Safeship® mission from Coltraco Ultrasonics.

For example, the IMO SOLAS FSS code enabling Officers and Crew to test their fire systems or their watertight integrity in port and at sea. The IMO SOLAS FSS Code states that every ship “must have the means for the crew to check the contents of the CO2 & marine CO2 systems. The crew cannot dismantle and re-install a CO2 system. The Portalevel™ MAX Marine means they can check each cylinder in 30 seconds without disturbing it. Thus, there are IMO codes, Class regulations, Port Authority suggestions which are all well known within shipping. And yet there is one regulatory body which is totally neglected: the BS EN ISO 14520 Gaseous Extinguishing Systems is the global standard for a ship’s fire system. It specifically states that if a gaseous system loses 5-10% of its contents then it is not “safe”.

There exists so much “ungoverned space” in shipping, so many unnecessary losses of seafarers, vessels and cargoes too. Shipping may be very proud of its safety record, but it should do more itself rather than wait for the regulators to impose themselves upon it.” Rounding off this examination into the ungoverned space in shipping, Coltraco’s CEO states: “We remain the global centre of shipping and I wish us to lead that to a new future of Safe Shipping too.”

Overview of the Portascanner® Watertight

What is it?

The most mathematically accurate handheld ultrasonic watertight integrity tester indicator in the market to 0.06mm (+/-0.02mm).

What does it do?

The main purpose of the equipment is to identify the exact location and severity of leak sites in any watertight, weathertight or airtight seal.

Why is it the best?

The focus in developing the equipment was to make this process as simple, quick and accurate as possible.

Who needs to use it?

Commonly used to test leaks in hatch-covers, doors, bulkheads, hatches, Multiple cable transit areas testing device and NBCW (nuclear, biological, chemical warfare) seals in shipping, oil and gas and defence.

Generator

  • Maximum Range of 100meters, making it more than capable of measuring even the largest holds on modern bulk carriers
  • Magnet fitting allows easily positioning on the hatch combing during testing, saving significant time and no the need to climb down into the hold
  • Disposable 9V batteries so no reduction in battery effectiveness over lifetime of the equipment
  • Highly durable case for longevity of use
  • Very lightweight and compact for easy of transportation, storage and movement around the vessel. Weighing just 430 grams

Receiver

    • Two methods of reading: Linear Readout – _Very simple – _larger the reading = larger the problem. Easy to calculate Weathertight value (10% of OHV & explained below)

Decibel Readout – _Preferred method by Surveyors to report in and provides option for logarithmic scale

    •  
    • SPA Feature – _Allows the operator to increase the sensitivity of the reading to operate over larger distances
    • Highly directional – _Designed to make it especially sensitive to identify the exact location of any leak site
    • Accuracy – capable of detecting leak sites as small as 0.06mm
    • Hard aluminium case for longevity of operation and protecting the internal electronics
    • Receiver components can also be used for use with the Permascanner® Dynamic in the event operators want to inspect the impact of the hatch cover seals whilst the vessel is at sea.

“Safety First” should not simply be a tag line

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.

In the event of downtime or shutdown to fire, there could be catastrophic effects to high value assets, such as critical infrastructure. 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.

Fire safety is still an “ungoverned space”

In terms of fire extinguishing systems there exist 2 broad categories: sprinkler systems and liquefied gaseous systems such a clean agents, FM 200 fire suppression system ®, Novec™1230, CO2.  The former can suffer leakage but the latter can cause greater damage given its physical pressures. Regulations require that the extinguishing agent stored in cylinders must be checked annually. The traditional method requires turning off the system, dismantling, and weighing each cylinder. Thorough testing can take hours and several qualified, trained personnel.

Anecdotes of bad practice

  • Low labour rate servicing crews being unskilled, unreliable and untrained
  • Disreputable companies randomly checking a few cylinders and placing “tested stickers” on the rest of the untested ones
  • 20% of marine CO2 cylinders installed empty or partially-filled 

Innovation offers Smart Solutions

New Safesite™ technologies offer great opportunity to the mining industry - enabling confidence that the fire system is safeguarded. For example:

  • Portalevel® MAX world leading handheld ultrasonic liquid level indicator for testing most common extinguishing agents
  • Portasteele™ Calculator tablet based app converting the liquid level indicator into agent weight/mass with ease, simplicity and ability to record and download the results
  • 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

People are priceless

Given that 400 million European passengers every year entrust themselves to the safety of the ship that they travel on, any accidents on board are serious threats to the safety of those passengers. About 6 per cent of fires on ro-ro passenger ships have resulted in loss of life or serious injury and every year. In December 2014, 11 people were killed and several were injured in a fire aboard the Norman Atlantic ro-ro passenger ship. Chances must not be taken when lives are at risk, and when a vessel is at sea, this is all the time.

Protecting the merchant fleet

Research coordinated by IMO has indicated that between 30% and 50% of all fires on merchant ships originate in the engine room and 70% of those fires are caused by oil leaks from pressurised systems. There are generally two types of engine room fires: oil or electric. Engine room fires are one of the most common fires on ships due to the running machinery, and sources of fuel and ignition within them. Oil fires are the most serious. Mechanical issues such as fracture, fatigue failure and also under-tightened components or seals may result in catastrophic occurrences.  Furthermore, it was noted, that high pressure fuel delivery pipes should be covered with jackets capable of containing leaks in case of pipe failure. There is a call to respond to regulations with a rigorous attitude, to go above and beyond, to provide security of life and vessel.

Contain the risk of fire

Vice Chairman’s of the International Union of Marine Insurance (IUMI) stated that to global shipping, major fires on container ships are among the worst hazards. Part of the problem is as container ship sizes have increased, the firefighting equipment on board has not experienced the same development. In their 2015 annual report, the USCG identified that the greatest deficiency onboard ships was its firefighting appliances.  An example of where the risk has become a danger is the CCNI Arauco. On the CCNI Aruco, 300 firefighters were needed after an unsuccessful seal and flood of the vessels hold with CO2. The hatch had to be flooded and then foam was used to bring the fire under control. The main difficulty comes from the inadequate equipment which the crew had to tackle the fire and as a result there has been calls for the technology to change.

3 key areas for regular inspection is important

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 fire suppression system®, 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

3. 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.

Safety first

The maritime industry treats fire protection systems as a necessary expenditure rather than a means by which to safeguard valuable crew and cargo

Although the value of the marine assets that fire systems protect is increasing rapidly, the competitiveness of the free market places great pressure on cost cutting. Often, cheap systems only minimally comply with the regulations and, in fact, there are very few qualified engineers who may be considered experts on the subject matter. This creates an environment in which a ‘safety first’ culture remains both un-pursued and unrewarded.

“This attitude feels in direct opposition to that in the aerospace sector, where if a fault occurs on an aircraft, that information is quickly and openly shared with airline operators, civil aviation authorities and engineering organizations. In shipping, unless a fatality occurs, it is left un-reported,” says Carl Hunter, CEO & MD of Coltraco Ultrasonics. With multiple ships sailing with partially-filled, over-filled or empty cylinders and many unshared instances of accidental discharges or slow seepages there is real cause for concern – and impetus to change.

In terms of ships’ extinguishing systems there exist two broad categories: sprinkler systems and gas systems (CO2). While the former can suffer leakage but the latter can cause catastrophic effect given the high physical pressures. An average ship’s CO2 & marine CO2 systemscomprises between 200 and 600 cylinders each containing 45KG of CO2 under high 720 psi/ 49 bar pressure. One of the highest probabilities of discharge occurs during their maintenance. Some marine service companies estimate that 20% of a ships CO2 cylinders have discharged or partially leaked their contents at some point in their lifetime.

This makes high quality servicing particularly important, which requires not just a company that is properly resourced (rather than simply the lowest bidder) but also an appropriate amount of time. In many cases, marine servicing contractors often have to get to the ship using a launch and only have access to the vessel for about four hours. “If using the historical method of servicing the vessel’s fire system, the service crews would shut down the ship’s CO2 & marine CO2 systems, dismantle it and weigh each cylinder. This takes about 40 minutes to dismantle, weigh, record and re-install, meaning that it would take 400 man-hours to achieve on a 600 cylinder marine installation – completely impossible in a four hour visit,” Hunter informs.

Coltraco offer Portalevel brand liquid level indicators and Portascanner (which uses ultrasound to test the integrity of confined spaces and can detect leak sites as small as 0.06mm) and Portagauge (which uses ultrasound to test the internal and external corrosion on pipework and cylinder wall thickness to an accuracy of +/-0.1mm). “We can monitor these 24/7 with the fixed, data-logging and autonomous monitoring system, Permalevel Multiplex & Permalevel Single Point,” says Hunter. “Signals from these

fixed monitoring sites can be monitored centrally on the bridge and in the ship’s technical office concurrently. We see a day when products and systems will be designed that will monitor gas vapour above the liquid level and inert gases too.”

Why chose the Portalevel® MINI Nippon?

The Portalevel® Mini Nippon was created specially to serve the unique requirements of our Japanese Customer base. Using our well-proven 7th generation technological platform, it was specially adapted to manage the challenging Japanese manufactured cylinders. Providing users with hands-free operation for ease of use and highly reliable unit, it offers an ideal solution for inspecting CO2 Fixed Fire Suppression Systems.

Technical Specifications of Portalevel Mini Nippon

Here, we have enlisted technical specs available with this liquid level detector. Give it a look!

Dimensions

  • Height: 98mm
  • Weight: 45.5grams
  • Width: 158mm
  • Depth: 420mm

Accuracy

+/-1.5mm (1/8 inch)

Power Supply

4 x AA 1.5V Batteries (battery life 10 hours)

Sensor

TX/RX Dry Sensor

  • Contained within a magnetized sensor applicator;
  • 14 mm diameter head
  • Connected by BNC connectors to 1 m length co-ax cable

Standard Extension Rod Sensor

  • Connected by bnC connectors to 1 m length co-ax cable.
  • 28mm in diameter
  • 1 meter in length

Verifiable Agents

CO2, H20, FM-200™, NOVEC™1230, old Halons such as 1301 and 1211, FE-13™, FE-25™, FE-36™, HFC-225 & 2271

Display

LCD Numeric Digital Display with LED Bar Graph

Classification

  • NATO Stock Number: 6680-99-275-5292
  • IP Rating 65

Certificates

  • Classification Society Approved- RINA
  • ISO 19011 Registered
  • CE

Warranty

  • Lifetime Customer Support
  • Sensor: 1 Year Warranty
  • Main Unit: 3 Years Warranty

Operating Temperature

  • Relative Humidity-5 % - 95 %
  • -20°C to +70°C (68°F to 158°F)

Portalevel Mini Nippon Content

  • 1 Hard Wearing Carrying Case
  • 1 Portalevel® Mini Nippon unit
  • 1 28 mm Extension Rod
  • Calibration certificate
  • 1 Wet Sensor
  • Ultrasonic Gel

Continuous Monitoring of Fire Suppression Systems

The regulations are not extensive enough to deal with the risks presented in gaseous systems. In ISO 14520 which is the “gold standard” of clean agent fire suppression system, clauses 9.2.1.3 in 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, the regulations highlight the need for periodic maintenance because it is known that the gaseous systems leak and need to be periodically checked. Given that the gaseous systems are designed specifically to the individual need of that enclosure, a 5% loss of agent may mean that they would not fully extinguish the fire.

Coltraco have developed a fixed fire suppression monitoring device, the Permalevel® MULTIPLEX which is designed for permanent contents verification. The continuous monitoring system utilises ultrasound technology to detect the level of contents non-invasively and transmits the level information from the wired sensors to the main unit which is then processed and reported to the building’s BMS or local control panel wirelessly through TCP/IP. This is to ensure that FM 200 fire suppression systems are always   stored at their designed concentration 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 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 causing financial and reputational loss to the facility comprising the critical infrastructure.

The system developed utilises the Internet of Things (IoT) to achieve its full potential of visualising the monitored contents worldwide. 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, owners and building managers can now identify any changes to their installed fire suppression system contents in real time and dispatch their servicing or maintenance team as soon as notification is received about a change happening to the installed system. This is now entirely possible through the reliance on recent IoT developments.

Fire Innovation of the Year 2018: Portasteele® Calculator

Traditionally cylinders are manually weighed by turning off and dismantling each one, which may be risky and takes on average two people 15 minutes per cylinder.

To solve this problem, Coltraco Ultrasonics developed the innovative 8th generation Portalevel® MAX:  handheld ultrasonic liquid level indicator to inspect CO2, clean agents and more liquefied gaseous agents, by one person in just 30 seconds. Combined with the Portasteele® CALCULATOR these liquid level heights are converted into the weight of agent. This tablet based advanced calculator application is the first in the world to provide agent weight readings without physically weighing the cylinders to comply with regulations.

It is the first level indication method to take account of the temperature affect on the agent height. PortasteeleÒ CALCULATOR provides instant real-time results which can be recorded then emailed directly for datalogged audit trail. By replacing the use of manual calculation and formulae, Portasteele® CALCULATOR makes the whole process of fire suppression system servicing simple and effective.

This is a safer, more efficient and cost saving method to service fire cylinders. The technological innovation ensures an entirely user friendly and industry leading device.

See the Portasteele® CALCULATOR Here:

Test Your Fire Suppression Systems

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.

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.  

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 gas suppression system and the pressure of non-liquefied gases such as Inergen or Nitrogen.

How can ultrasound protect your vessel against water ingress?

The Swedish P& I club recommend using Ultrasound. As stated in their 2018 report “A much more effective method is to use an ultrasonic device, which is designed for this purpose and can pinpoint the area which is leaking, and if the compression of the gasket is sufficient. The advantages of using this type of equipment are evident, since ultrasonic tests can be carried out during any stage of the loading without risking cargo damage. The test can also be completed in sub-zero temperatures. The ultrasonic test should be carried out as per the class requirements.” 

 Ultrasonic testing is a dramatically more sensitive, accurate and reliable method for testing cargo hatch covers, bulkheads and doors for watertight integrity testing on all vessels. A multi-directional ultrasound emitter is placed in a hold. The opening being tested is then sealed and the receiver switched on ready to receive any leakage of ultrasound via a set of headphones. An increased reading of ultrasound signal signifies an issue with the integrity of the door/hatch. Further, and closer inspection will allow identification of any specific leakage sight along with the severity. This test will take approximately 10 minutes and requires only one operator. 

 Ultrasonic is proven to be the quickest, easiest and most efficient method of testing watertight & weather-tight seals of hatch-covers, doors, multiple cable transits area testing. 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.  

Coltraco Ultrasonic 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.

Comply with ISO 14520: Check your Compartmentation

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™ Integrity Test Indicator alongside the Door Fan Testing for a complete and comprehensive regulatory room test. Ideal for precise leak detection, Portascanner™ 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.

Mine fires and explosions : the most devastating industrial disasters.

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.

Regulations for fire protection/p>

The Health and Safety Executive clearly outlines that in 213. Regulation 9 of the Coal and Other Mines (Fire and Rescue) Regulations 1956 there is a requirement of managers of coal mines to put in place arrangements to ensure that: 35 • All fire-fighting equipment is inspected by a competent person at intervals not exceeding 30 days; • Each fire extinguisher is discharged and refilled by a competent person, at intervals not exceeding those specified by the manufacturer or supplier. The Fire Protection Association Australia states that the entire area should be a completely enclosed structure of fire resistant construction. This is particularly important for mines with intended for use longer than 6 months. If such an arrangement is not possible, then the area should be protected throughout by an automatic fire suppression system. In coal mines it is critical to minimize any potential fire source. In many underground mines, mobile equipment is typically diesel-powered, and a large percentage of the fires involve the fuel used by these machines. These fire hazards are compounded by the presence of coal, coal dust and methane.

What is a gaseous suppression system?/p>

Gaseous fire suppression systems typically encompass extinguishing agent stored in pressurised cylinders that are connected to a network of discharge pipework and nozzles that deliver the extinguishing agent to an enclosure to be protected.

Among the commonly used gaseous fire suppression systems are Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and Clean Agent systems which are both non-conducting fire extinguishants safe for use when dealing with delicate electrical and electronic equipment unlike water-based systems. Both CO2 and Clean Agent systems vaporise easily and do not leave a residue upon evaporation.

Clean Agents consist of two types which are halocarbons that are stored as liquefied gases and inert gases that are stored as non-liquefied gases. Halocarbon is a name given to compounds containing both carbon and at least one of the halogens (fluorine, chlorine, iodine or bromine). In the case of Halon 1301 and Halon 1211 which contain bromine, they possess strong ozone depletion potential that has been banned under the Montreal Protocol in 1989. Replacement halocarbons has since been developed using safer halogens such as fluorine and among the popular ones are NOVEC™ 1230 by 3M™ and FM-200™ by The Chemours Company. On the other hand, inert gases are clean agents that consist purely of inert gas such as Nitrogen, or a combination of gases in the case of Inergen which contains CO2, Nitrogen and Argon.

How Gaseous Systems combat the Fire Triangle

At the heart of clean agent extinguishing properties is the commonly used “Fire Triangle” that represents the three components required to start a fire which are oxygen, heat and fuel. When one or more of these components are missing, the fire will be extinguished. Halocarbon clean agents such as NOVEC™ 1230 and FM-200™ remove the heat component which effectively prevents the material from reaching its ignition temperature. CO2 and inert gases works differently by removing the oxygen component but equally as effective to extinguish a fire.

The clean agent systems function on a total flooding principle and are highly relied on due to their quick detection of a fire event, rapid suppression and extinguishment capabilities. Typical applications include chemical storage areas, clean rooms, communications facilities, robotics, emergency power facilities and in mining sites as well. Depending on the site, the installed clean agent systems are located in or around the fire risk areas such as control rooms, data centres, electrical switch rooms, and process control rooms.  All fire equipment and systems including gaseous fire suppression systems need to be regularly tested, serviced and maintained to help ensure that they will be ready to operate as intended at the event of a fire.

Why should we monitor them?/p>

Clean agent fire extinguishing systems of this type are governed by BS EN ISO 14520 Gaseous Fire Extinguishing Systems. They are designed to provide a supply of gaseous extinguishing medium for the extinction of fire. It is essential that gaseous extinguishing systems are carefully maintained to ensure instant readiness when required. Routine maintenance is liable to be overlooked or given insufficient attention by the owner of the system.  These are very highly pressurised systems often stored at pressures of 725 psi (50 bar) and above. In engineering terms, they are “dynamic” systems, not passive ones. Inspection preferably by a third party, should include an evaluation that the extinguishing system continues to provide adequate protection for the risk (protected zones, as well rooms built for room integrity, can change over time as they age or are modified).  There exist very few engineers in our industry who fully understand the design, installation, testing, maintenance and safety of gaseous firefighting systems in buildings, plants or other structures, and the characteristics of the various extinguishants and types of fire for which they are a suitable extinguishing medium.  The HSE states that, in mines, continuous monitoring and protection of machinery and equipment can significantly reduce the likelihood of a fire occurring by detecting abnormal operating conditions and generating a warning and/or stopping the machinery or equipment before it becomes a hazard. The same should therefore go for the gaseous systems.

Gaseous extinguishing systems are pressurised, and therefore exist in a dynamic state and can leak. As supported by the BS EN ISO 14520 regulation, if clean agent cylinders leak beyond 5% of contents or 10% of pressure they will not extinguish a fire event, as they will be below their design concentration.  As the “gold standard” of clean agent systems – BS EN ISO 14520 highlights the asset owner’s responsibility to check that the clean agents contents exist; that the protected space can be sealed; that the pipework used to discharge the clean agents are clear of particulates that can clog up the nozzles which reduces the amount of clean agent to the point where it cannot deal with the fire event.

Anecdotes of bad practice across all safety critical industries/p>

  • Low labour rate servicing crews being unskilled, unreliable and untrained
  • Disreputable companies randomly checking a few cylinders and placing “tested stickers” on the rest of the untested ones
  • 20% of marine CO2 cylinders installed have leaked or partially discharged during the course of their lifetime  

These anecdotes represent observations across multiple safety critical industries such as shipping  and could very highly be applied across the mining industry. These issues would risk the integrity of mining operations, because in the event of fire, there may be insufficient agent to extinguish it. For such safety critical operations, leaving fire safety systems unsupervised and unmonitored 364 days a year until their annual certification check is just too risky.

Industry trend to govern “the ungoverned space” /p>

Safety is becoming recognised as an area which must no longer be overlooked. The industry is beginning to opt for more regular inspections and even, continuous 365/24/7 monitoring. The ability to monitor autonomously, with remote diagnostics and remote relay which provide an alarm to the Fire Safety Officer or Facilities Manager, provides confidence in the integrity of the system. Minimising the risk of fire in the long run can improve business continuity. It also saves downtime and saves the potential costly pay-out which fire damage entails. Carl Hunter, having coined the term “the ungoverned space” as CEO of Coltraco Ultrasonics is proud to be at the forefront of the industry trend towards increased safety.

What methods are available now?

Ultrasonic technology holds the key. Coltraco Ultrasonics have developed a system capable of constant monitoring fire extinguishing cylinders with their Permalevel™ Multiplex. Currently, protecting similarly high value and critical infrastructure, such as electricity sub-stations, power generating stations and data centres, Permalevel™ Multiplex will provide the asset owner with complete 24/7 visibility of their system’s contents. This Safesite® solution enables mining sites to go above and beyond minimal regulatory compliance to develop their own best practice safety management system that may lead to better protection of asset and human life, as well as show their insurers their commitment to safety.

What is ultrasound?/p>

Ultrasound is merely sound beyond our audible range. Dolphins and whales can communicate at sea over long ranges as sound travels more efficiently through liquids than air. We use this principle to identify that difference in a cylinder containing liquefied agent. Consider ones ears as ”the receiver” and ones mouth as the “transmitter”. Sound will arrive at ones ears at different times. The reason though that we hear a unitary sound is that our brain processes it to one. This is what we do by processing the returning ultrasound. In the air bats navigate by airborne ultrasound. We can do the same for contents and room integrity monitoring in the fire industry.

By utilising a sensor which acts as a transceiver, an ultrasonic measuring device is capable of detecting liquid levels within any single-skinned container through transmitting an ultrasonic pulse and analysing the strength of the returned signal to determine the level of contents. As sound behaves differently in air and liquid, so will the strength of the returned signal be different in the liquid allowing us to identify the level of contents accurately. Similarly, leaks can be effectively detected through an ultrasound generator placed in an enclosure and an ultrasound receiver outside of the enclosure to measure the amount of ultrasound that leaks from the seals and cracks which has the potential to affect the ability for a clean agent to extinguish fires due to the retention time it needs upon discharge to function at its best. Taking these collected data and transmitting them wirelessly over TCP/IP, true remote monitoring of your fire suppression systems is possible anywhere around the world. 

Is bad engineering being rewarded?

Despite the technological advances in monitoring systems, the industry still approaches the installation of a dynamic and pressurised fixed gaseous extinguishing system as if it needs no integration into a Building Management System (BMS)/Safety Management System (SMS), except alerting on actuation. Nor does it think it needs constant monitoring, lest it reveals the underlying engineering risk of them. Can this be because good engineering is left unrewarded in fire safety matters? Or might it be that the fire industry is more concerned to negate customer awareness of its need lest it reveals that pressurised systems do discharge and leak? These are needless concerns. All good engineering demands the monitoring of dynamic structures and a highly pressurised cylinder is a dynamic structure. It is designed to protect a critical infrastructure or asset. Without constant monitoring a risk is generated in the very environment for which it is designed to reduce risk. The risk is not only to the asset, but to the people who work in the asset and their ability to enable business continuity in the high value asset under risk.

CASE STUDY: ultrasonic technology offers quick, safe & reliable solutions/p>

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/p>

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 /p>

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 /p>

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.

Could you afford the financial and reputational damage of a tanker fire?

Fires on board tankers can be devastating, to crew, vessel and cargo. Fire safety standards on board cannot afford to slip. Sailing alone and at sea throughout the year, and without the ability to call upon the emergency services as a land-based asset might. Although the value of the marine assets that fire systems protect is increasing rapidly, the competitiveness of the free market places great pressure on cost cutting. Often, cheap systems only minimally comply with the regulations and, in fact, there are very few qualified engineers who may be considered experts on the subject matter.

The International Maritime Risk Rating Agency (IMRRA) has ranked fire safety as the leading tanker deficiency seen by Port State Control for the first six months of the year. In March 2017 there were 152 cases of fire reported. The IMMRA placed 12.5% of tankers it assessed in January 2017 into the higher risk category – a six month high.

Serious cases of tanker fires and risks have been reported in the past year. In September 2016 a Pemex oil tanker had a serious fire in the Gulf of Mexico, on which it was carrying 80,000 barrels of diesel, 71,000 of gasoline and 16,000 barrels of desulfurized gasoline. In March 2017 there was an explosion on a Chinese Tanker, in which 3 crew members went missing and serious damage to the vessel was caused. Even as recently as July fire safety is still being neglected, with the crew of the tanker MT IBA reporting empty fire extinguishers (despite transporting crude oil) and leaking life boat’s hydraulic system with no means of testing.

So why is fire safety still being ignored?

The UK P&I Club have suggested that extended periods of time on board a ship without a fire incident can lead to complacency and therefore a failure of prioritizing prevention methods and fire incident practices. It is impossible to prepare for all eventualities on a vessel, and it is often easier to influence the prompt detection of fires and their effective extinguishment, and these factors therefore play a key role in minimising fire damage aboard vessels.

The Ungoverned Space is the area where either the regulations or the protecting systems of the tankers 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. Even in 2017, gaseous fixed fire extinguishing systems are often overlooked, and are misunderstood at all levels: owners, managers, chief engineers and crew.

Look after your installations or pay the price of fire

Tankers extinguishing installations are its essential defence against the risk of fire at sea. The main factor that needs to be understood is that they must be able to actuate, or release their gas, in the event of a fire. 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:

“Means shall be provided for the crew to safely check the quantity of the fire extinguishing medium in the container”

Adding to this, the details of their leakage within the regulations which is troubling. ISO 14520-1 clearly states that:

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

Given that the gaseous systems are designed specifically to the individual need of the tanker then a 5% loss of agent may mean that they would not fully extinguish the fire. Manual weighing is not only laborious, but also dangerous to the crew conducting the servicing.

Innovative Solutions

  • Portalevel® MAX Marine is designed primarily for the vessels’ crew to 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.

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. The Portasteele has widely been recognised by awards, as a finalist in the Safety at Sea Awards 2017 and the Tanker & Trade Awards 2016.

Addressing fire at sea is critical, especially when all owners and managers are seeking to reduce risk, cut costs and surge on safety. Owners and managers, to servicing companies and insurers - use Coltraco Ultrasonics.

 

Using ultrasound to enhance offshore safety

Bad industry practice is unacceptable when fire risk may have catastrophic results due to risk to life, downtime in operation due to platform safety and repair work and incalculable reputational damage

Fully operative fire systems on an offshore platform is paramount and demanded by ISO 14520 and PFEER codes. Ultrasound should be harnessed by innovators in the safety of offshore platforms i.e. acoustic (sound) energy in the form of waves of high frequency that are above the human audible range. By utilising a sensor which acts as a transceiver, an ultrasonic measuring device is capable of detecting liquid levels within any single-skinned container through transmitting an ultrasonic pulse and analysing the strength of the returned signal to determine the level of contents.

When these fire systems are properly maintained, the cost associated with fire damage is likely to reduce dramatically as it is know fire damages on these hazardous offshore environments are generally catastrophic to lives, asset, environment and company reputation.

The introduction of a package to cover watertight doors, compartments, pipework, rotating machinery, pumps, sprinkler systems and gaseous extinguishing installations. The package is based on integrity, from design, through to life-time support, and is accurate, reliable and easy to use for any operations & QHSE staff. The use of ultrasound technology to protect safety critical assets is new. There are currently no technical papers which discuss ultrasound as a method to holistically service safety management systems.

Regulations Demand Crew Test Their Extinguishing Installations

At sea, fire poses one the of biggest threat to ships: according to Lloyds List, almost 10% of all total losses at sea for the last ten years have been caused by fire. Unlike shore-based workers, crew can’t pick up the phone and wait for a firefighting crew to arrive. Ultimately, ships are their own fire brigade. And as vessels become larger and more sophisticated, a greater financial interest is tied up into one ship, meaning that the risks are magnified if the vessel gets into difficulties.

According to the International Maritime Organisation, Safety of Life at Sea, Fire Safety Systems (IMO SOLAS FSS) Code; there is a 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, such as an external marine servicing company.

Yet, the FFS code also specifically states that the crew must test their extinguishing installations in between the periodic inspection, maintenance and certification. Having an annual inspection by accredited marine servicing companies is not enough – the crew must take responsibility for its own fire protection. However, what must be noted is that the crew are often not trained or certified to shut-down, dismantle, weigh and re-install the gaseous cylinders – the traditional method.

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. 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. The loss of contents in the cylinders poses a serious threat to the crew, as this could mean that in the event of the fire, there may not be enough CO2 to extinguish the fire.

Despite this, the risk of leaking and discharging is accepted as part of their use and this is shown in the IMO SOLAS FFS regulations that demand their upkeep.

The regulations also state that “means shall be provided for the crew to safely check the quantity of the fire extinguishing medium in the container”. Using an ultrasonic liquid level indicator is the only way that the crew can safely test their CO2 without disturbing them. If marine companies implemented the IMO SOLAS FSS codes by testing safely and quickly (just 30-60 seconds per cylinder) by using liquid level indicators and marine servicing companies could do their work without allowing for time pressures, then marine safety would improve.

Bad industry practice is unacceptable when fire risk may have catastrophic results due to risk to life, downtime in operation due to ship safety and repair work and incalculable reputational damage. The crew, cargo and vessel must be protected when at sea because it is its own fire brigade without accessibility to typical emergency services. This is a call to respond to regulations with a rigorous attitude, to go above and beyond, and to provide security of life and infrastructure.

The future of watertight integrity testing is with continuous monitoring.

The future of watertight integrity testing is with continuous monitoring. A lack of proper servicing of seals can lead to deterioration which endanger the lives of the crew, vessel and cargo. The large issue here is that ships are only tested before and after one or perhaps several journeys; yet a leak could occur at any point in between testing and continue unnoticed until the next inspection. A vessel generates its leak sites due to load states, sea states, wind states, and dynamic movement. The severity is amplified within a vessel structure constantly changing by varying sea, wind, load states, cargo types and dynamic stresses. There is a great deal of bending and deformation that naturally occurs in ships during travel. It was found that a comprehensive, autonomous continuous monitoring system for the watertight integrity of a ship’s cargo hatches, weathertight doors and other seals is possible to be developed. One that is capable of automatically detecting emerging leak sites, alerting officers and crew of the location and severity of the leak site and logging all data for future review. The developments in continuous monitoring technology being undertaken by Coltraco Ultrasonics will drive the industry towards ensuring that watertight integrity is never left to chance.

The case study of the Emma Maersk exemplifies the danger of improper servicing. A severe leakage occurred on the container ship in February 2013 when it was loaded with 14,000 containers. The leakage was caused by the mechanical break-down of a stern thruster, creating the shaft tunnel to flood, as well as leading to severe ingress of water in the aft part. This led to flooding of the main engine room. This was caused by non-effective cable penetration sealings: in a sudden blast, four cable penetration sealings in the watertight bulkhead gave way to the water pressure followed by a massive ingress of seawater. Shortly after this, the other three cable penetration sealings also failed, resulting in an even larger ingress of water into the engine room. This led to approximately USD 45 million worth of damages and towage cost .

The NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) 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”. The tragedy of the El Faro has exemplified why it is crucial for the watertight integrity of vessels to be upheld.

To prevent sinking, regulations outline the requirements to ensure watertight integrity checks are done before the vessel sets sail. There is currently no emphasis on periodic watertight integrity checks other than to ensure watertight doors are closed. There are also reasons to believe that this requirement can too be exceeded by implementing the continuous monitoring of watertight compartments such as hatch covers for cargo holds and watertight doors for passenger spaces. This is now made possible by implementing robust ultrasonic transmitters and receivers both inside and outside the monitored compartment respectively. As soon as apertures start to form in the seals of these structures, the ultrasonic signal escapes the compartments and is received by the ultrasonic receiver on the other end. Above a certain threshold, this escaped signal represents the size of the leak that has developed.

Using a portable ultrasonic watertight integrity tester, Coltraco Ultrasonics’ Portascanner® functions on similar principles, detecting the smallest leak size 0.06 mm in diameter which is the most mathematically accurate in the world +/-0.02mm. As an example of how a leak will compromise the stability of a vessel, a leak diameter of one mm under just one metres depth of water below sea level will correspond to a leak of 12,500 millilitres per hour. This means up to 911 cans of soft drinks worth of water in a day. This highlights the importance of watertight integrity.

Fire is the second leading cause of accidents in wind turbines

With the size of turbines increasing, the wind industry needs to learn about the importance of fire safety in wind turbines. Fire is the second leading cause of accidents in wind turbines after blade failure. As our reliance grows on wind turbines, keeping them fully operational and at reduced levels of risk becoming more important, and as a result, so does safety management. 10-30% of all loss-of-power-generation incidents in wind power plants are due to fire. Fires in wind turbines not only lead to a loss of business continuity and a negative impact on the company’s reputation but also, most importantly, are a critical safety issue.

With predictions of much taller and more powerful turbines and thus fewer per project, ensuring that the they are in working order is essential, because the larger and fewer the turbines, the more costly they will be to operators in the event of fire damage. Due to the height and location of wind turbines, classic firefighting methods come up against their limits and therefore fire extinguishing systems that use gases such as carbon dioxide, inert gases or clean agents such as FM-200® and Novec™1230, which are especially appropriate for dealing with fires in electrical systems because they extinguish the fire quickly whilst not damaging the electrical systems or the compartment in which they are being discharged.

However, it is important to note that such fire extinguishing systems require maintenance to ensure they are fully operational and ready in event of a fire. ISO 14520-1:2015(E) assumes that these systems accidentally discharge and leak. 6.2.4.2 Contents indication: “Means shall be provided to indicate that each container is correctly charged.” Followed by “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.”

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. Permalevel® 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 uninterruptible power supply (UPS) 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 15 minutes by traditional manual weighing) with accuracy of up to 1.5mm off the true liquid level. 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.

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®.

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.

ONE COMPANY’s MISSION TO RESOLVE “THE UNGOVERNED SPACE” IN SHIPPING

There are 55,000 ships in the world carrying 95% of all commodities and goods. 25% of these are Tankers, Chemical Carriers & Product Tankers. 40% of these are Bulk Carriers and General Cargo ships. These have a need for vessel integrity and vessel fire safety.

Currently it is well known that the shipping industry has taken a big hit in certain areas. The amount of “urgent” supply requests that increase during one of shipping’s cyclical down-turns is because it is during these times when owners risk vessel detention by not placing safety critical equipment on-board. There are two key aspects to investigate in more detail because they are oft overlooked: the ungoverned spaces of fire safety and watertight integrity. These two areas will be examined through the regulations and technologies used to solve these issues. Looking at the UK as leaders in the shipping industry worldwide with a case study focus on a British designer and manufacturer who is sailing through the tough times.

FIRE SAFETY IS MORE THAN ANOTHER TICKBOX

Engine room fires are often reported but there are many more instances where problems with the fire system may not reach the public eye. In a ship’s fire extinguishing system, there may be 600 x 45kg/100lb cylinders of CO2. The CO2 is a highly effective liquefied gaseous extinguishant designed to displace oxygen and suppress a fire. But they are under high pressure, often more than 50 Bar, and they can leak or accidentally discharge. Common knowledge suggests 20% of marine CO2 cylinders leak. If personnel are around when they discharge fatalities can occur. To inspects cylinder contents, the system is turned off, the cylinders dismantled, weighed and re-installed by certified personnel, which the crew are not. 30 years ago, marine servicing companies used radioactive-sourced level indicators, but these were damaging to health and subject to IATA transportation, licensing and storage requirements. The first handheld liquid level indicator to use ultrasonic technology provided a quick, accurate and safe means for anyone trained - from a marine servicing company, to chief engineer or crew member - to test the cylinder contents. This Portalevel® was designed and manufactured by Coltraco Ultrasonics who have since developed the technology to the 8th generation Portalevel® MAX Marine which can test all common clean agents.

LEAKING HATCHCOVERS? DOORS & MCTs MUST NOT BE FORGOTTEN.

A second key problem area for vessels is the watertight integrity: for example, 33% of cargo claims are due to leaking hatch-covers. Not only hatch-covers suffer seal integrity issues, but also the multiple cable transit areas, cable penetrations between bulkheads or watertight compartment doors. Historically the industry has used high pressure water hoses or chalk compression testing to test the seals. These methods are messy, inaccurate, time-consuming and the environmental implications of water run-off is costly. They can also only be conducted when the ship is in port or when the cargo holds are empty. Portascanner™ Watertight was designed by Coltraco Ultrasonics to meet the need for a clean, simple, highly accurate means to achieve watertight integrity in port, with or without cargo in the hold. It is handheld, intuitive to use, with audible and visual displays showing the most mathematically accurate results of its type worldwide.

DYNAMIC STATES

Shipping professionals understand that any marine structure “turns and bends” as it sails, that its extent is affected by its sea, weather and its load states and that as a structure ages its integrity changes and worsens. Today it is possible to continuously monitoring the state of hatch-covers whilst at sea thanks to Coltraco who are developing the first fixed and semi-fixed watertight integrity monitoring systems with remote diagnostics and alarm relay. Just as the vessel is in a dynamic state, so too a pressurised fire extinguishing gas is effected by temperature and that its cylinder holding structure and its associated pipework corrodes over time. Regular and frequent inspections, above and beyond the regulatory inspections can aide condition monitoring and preventative maintenance. Over 20% of the world’s commercial ships, over 20 leading Navies and many oil and gas platforms and rigs recognise these issues and use Portalevel™ MAX Marine and/or Portascanner™ Watertight as part of their safety management systems. It is the responsibility of the Master to ensure that the vessel is watertight and the fire systems in working order, but it is the responsibility of the Owner or Operator to ensure that the Master can achieve this.

REGULATION COMPLIANCE & BEYOND

These two safety solutions are at the heart of the crew’s ability to comply with regulations. The IMO regulates for the safe operations of ships. The Flag States enforce these. The Classification Societies & PSC inspect these, but it is for the Ship Owners & operators to implement this. Suppliers provide the solutions. Enabling ship owners and operators to access marine technologies to deliver a safely-operated ship and prevent its detention by Port State Control (PSC) Inspection Agencies for non-compliance, is the Safeship® mission from Coltraco Ultrasonics.

For example, IMO SOLAS FSS Ch.5 2.1.1.3: every ship “must have the means for the crew to check the contents of the CO2 system”. The crew are not qualified to turn off and dismantle a CO2 system to weigh the cylinders so Portalevel™ MAX Marine solves the issue because they can check each cylinder in 30 seconds without disturbing it.

SMART SAFESHIP SOLUTIONS

“Constant monitoring”. “Autonomous shipping”. “Unmanned vessels”. These are the terms of the moment, and for good reason. Data and safety are priceless, so new solutions are being implemented to secure these. In the ungoverned spaces of fire safety and watertight integrity, there will soon be innovative new systems providing continuous monitoring and remote diagnostics. At the vanguard of this, Coltraco have just launched the world’s first instrument to enable ships to monitor the compartment door “open/closed” access status when they enter the ship’s CO2 room. This is known as Portascanner™ 14520 and is a dual-function unit that can also permanently monitor the “Protected Space” of the ship’s compartment to ensure that it will “hold” the CO2 or NOVEC™1230, should it be discharged into it. Coltraco are dedicated to developing semi-fixed systems with the Portascanner™ Watertight Compartment Door and Portascanner™ Multiple Cable Transit Area next year, so that shipping companies can test these structures at sea over varying load and weather states enabling them to calculate leak site aperture.

HOW COLTRACO IMPLEMENT THEIR SAFESHIP® MISSION TO RESOLVE THE UNGOVERNED SPACE

Certain leading British OEMs commit to marketing and business development via exhibitions, speaking at conferences, writing articles, preparing interviews with trade press and a few even have technical papers published by the likes of the Royal Institute of Naval Architects among other. At a more in depth level, exists the opportunity to engage with industry associations, councils and committees which can, if the arguments are captivating for their value and truth, lead to government and regulation level communications. The dizzying heights of the IMO and All Party Parliamentary Groups are gained, not through commercially-led influence, but through care for the customer, for the vessel and the crew.

It is also through leading by example of providing the scientific and mathematical principles behind the concepts. Coltraco works with leading universities such as Durham University who awarded their CEO an Honorary Doctorate for his contribution to Physics and student development. Coltraco is a unique example of a British OEM who strives to engage all the elements described above to achieve its Safeship® mission.

Whilst aiming to be a sustainable and profitable company, at the leading technological edge of its core capabilities, Coltraco’s CEO see a day “when we will break-out of ultrasound and acoustic resonance and supplement these in technologies from radar, light and magnetism. I would like to see us become the “Research & Development hub” or “R&D house of choice” for Ship Owners and Vessel Operators.

How can the Portascanner® WATERTIGHT show the extent of a leak?

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

Technical Features of Portascanner Watertight

Here below are the technical specifications, which you want to know:

Portascanner Watertight is especially designed 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 Portascanner’s Generator

  • Powered By: 2 x 9V PP3 batteries
  • Weight: 431 Grams
  • Battery Life: 10 hours minimum
  • Size: 15cm L x 9cm W x 5cm H
  • Enclosure: ABS material
  • Mounting Arrangements: Permanent Magnet
  • Output:  0.1 watt/100dB unidirectional

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 vessels structure where required. A magnet cover is provided when the magnet is not in use.

Technical Specifications - Receiver

  • Powered By: 1 x 9V PP3 batteries with low battery indication
  • Weight: 419 Grams
  • Battery Life: 10 hours continuous use minimum
  • Size: 21.5cm x 8.5cm W x 3.5cm H
  • Enclosure: Aluminum IP65 Waterproof
  • Output:  1 watt (maximum) audible signal (via calibrated headphones with visual 4 digit LCD display and graph)

The receiver of this 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.

For further information, download PDF

Ultrasonic Thickness Gauge by Coltraco

The Portagauge® 4 is an ultrasonic thickness gauge from Coltraco. Offering unparalleled accuracy, using triple echo technology, which allows operators to inspect the underlying metal thickness, independent of any surface coatings such as paint. For applications where true metal readings and a higher degree of accuracy are required, the PortagaugeÒ 4 is the ideal solution. With a variety of sensor options available and underwater variants, this range of portable ultrasonic thickness gauge of units can easily be adapted to a variety of different roles and requirements.

  • Lifetime Support
  • Designed for Corrosion testing
  • Three years warranty
  • Ignored paint layer
  • 50 hours battery life
  • Ultrasonic technology
  • 225MHz probe included as standard
  • Accurate to 0.1mm off the true liquid level

Specifications of Portagauge 4Ò

  • It measures the true metal thickness, excluding coating and paint thickness.
  • Ideal for most common thickness gauging applications onboard ships by marine superintendents
  • This device is applicable for bridges, pilings storage tanks, lighting columns, ship hulls, bulk heads, pipe work, steel/stainless steel, cast iron, aluminum, copper, brass, zinc, quartz, glass, PVC, poleythyience, grey cast iron amongst others.
  • Automatic Measurement Verification System (AMVS) ensures only true measurements are displayed by checking a minimum of three echoes each time the ultrasound pulses through the metal Intelligent.
  • Probe Recognition (IPR), which automatically adjusts settings in the gauge at the same time as transmitting recognition data large colour.
  • LCD Display giving user information. Single crystal soft faced probe protected by a membrane.
  • Easy calibration with menu driven buttons echo strength indicator.
  • No zeroing required as all sensors use a single crystal which means that no specific alignment is required when measuring on curved or rounded surfaces.
  • User friendly with soft- molded rubber surround which is also comfortable to hold and provides extra protection.

For further information, download PDF

The main cause of vessel loss is sinking

As the main cause of vessel loss is sinking, the maintenance, testing and monitoring of watertight hatches, doors and multiple cable transits on vessels is essential. A watertight hatch cover is designed to prevent the passage of water in either direction under a head of water for which the surrounding structure is designed. Many mariners may think hatches are robust, monolithic structures, thereby failing to appreciate the small tolerances on panel alignment and gasket compression. It is better to think of hatches as complex, finely-made structures, to be handled with care. All types of seals, experience dynamic stresses as part of their operational lifetime. For example, 4mm wear on the steel-to-steel contact is sufficient to damage rubber sealing gaskets beyond repair; 5mm sag along the cross-joint can cause a large gap between the compression bar and gasket. The importance of continually maintaining seal integrity should take a more prominent position in ship maintenance scheduling.

The future of watertight integrity testing is with continuous monitoring. A lack of proper servicing of seals can lead to deterioration which endanger the lives of the crew, vessel and cargo. The large issue here is that ships are only tested before and after one or perhaps several journeys; yet a leak could occur at any point in between testing and continue unnoticed until the next inspection. A vessel generates its leak sites due to load states, sea states, wind states, and dynamic movement. The severity is amplified within a vessel structure constantly changing by varying sea, wind, load states, cargo types and dynamic stresses. There is a great deal of bending and deformation that naturally occurs in ships during travel. It was found that a comprehensive, autonomous continuous monitoring system for the watertight integrity of a ship’s cargo hatches, weathertight doors and other seals is possible to be developed. One that is capable of automatically detecting emerging leak sites, alerting officers and crew of the location and severity of the leak site and logging all data for future review. The developments in continuous monitoring technology being undertaken by Coltraco Ultrasonics will drive the industry towards ensuring that watertight integrity is never left to chance.

The case study of the Emma Maersk exemplifies the danger of improper servicing. A severe leakage occurred on the container ship in February 2013 when it was loaded with 14,000 containers. The leakage was caused by the mechanical break-down of a stern thruster, creating the shaft tunnel to flood, as well as leading to severe ingress of water in the aft part. This led to flooding of the main engine room. This was caused by non-effective cable penetration sealings: in a sudden blast, four cable penetration sealings in the watertight bulkhead gave way to the water pressure followed by a massive ingress of seawater. Shortly after this, the other three cable penetration sealings also failed, resulting in an even larger ingress of water into the engine room. This led to approximately USD 45 million worth of damages and towage cost.

Portamarine® Benefits

The Portamarine has been specifically designed to meet the needs of the shipping industry and has proven a capable and reliable unit over many years. In use with many thousand Vessel and Marine service stations worldwide, it is specifically designed for safely, quickly and accurately inspecting marine CO2 fire suppression systems. It allows vessel owners to comply with IMO SOLAS requirements which specify the need to have the means onboard to allow crew to safely inspect the fire systems. The Portamarine® has been specifically designed for testing multi-banked CO2 Cylinder Fire Suppression System Cylinders, stored in 2, 3 or 4 rows deep, to make the process as quick as possible to complete. It can also operate on the vast majority of other fire system agents including FM200™, NOVEC 1230™, Halon (for Defence applications) and all other clean agent systems.

Coltraco Limited has produced this liquid level indicator specifically to meet the corresponding needs of Marine Industry.The equipment is fully Classification Society Approved, accurate to +/-1.5mm and proves a significantly safer and quicker solution when compared to weighing as a means of identifying cylinder content.

Optional Extras with Portamarine – Ultrasonic Level Indicator

Ancillary Parts

These are offers and accessories available with this ultrasonic level indicator upon demand. Give it a look!

Additional Sensors

  • Wet Sensors – For rugged applications such as poor conditioned or rusty cylinders
  • Dry Sensor – For Standard Applications

Multi-Banked Extension Rod

  • Standard Rod – 28mm wide, normal build. Ideal for vast majority of applications.
  • Slim line rod – only 14mm wide and lightweight, ideal for where cylinders are tightly packed.

Portatherm™

Infrared thermometer providing quick indication of ambient temperatures

Gas Monitors

We also provide a wide range of Portable Gas Monitors when required.

After Sales Support

By purchasing the Portamarine® from Coltraco you can be assured of our full support to ensure you become a confident and competent user. If ever you require additional support or would like a Telephone Teach-In from one of our Technical Team please call +44 1761 241 601 or email support

Total Support with Portacare®

3 or 5 Year Total Maintenance Program to completely cap the cost of ownership and guaranty maximum availability. Back up units provided in the event of unit breakages with beyond Warranty levels of support.

For further information, download PDF

Permalevel® MULTIPLEX – 24/7 365 days monitoring fixed fire extinguishing systems

The Permalevel® Multiplex is the only continuous monitor of fixed fire extinguishing systems. The applications span across the fire, nuclear, electricity and gas and oil production, data storage, telecommunications centers and defence sectors.

Permalevel® is an advanced constant ultrasonic liquid level indicator. It is the easiest and simplest way to assure the appropriate level of liquid within the verified containers.

Features of Permalevel Multiplex

This system is a constant  ultrasonic liquid level indicator. Check them out!

Multiple Alarm Options:
A Master Alarm output. The multiplex has an RS232/485 output allowing communication with a central monitoring system or PC.

Status of Each Channel Shown by LEDs:

The set of green and red LED lights indicate the status of each cylinder.

Text/ Email Alerts:

Provide an instantaneous and convenient form of data communication.

Uninterruptable Power Supply:

Backup system provides power in the event of mains power failure.

Data-logging Ability:

The software keeps logs of the system activity, errors and alarm trigger on a monthly basis.

Strong Magnets:

Hold the sensors in place with additional space for adhesive or a strap to ensure sensors are not accidentally removed.

Sensors:

Each monitoring point has its own dedicated sensor, which is connected to the cylinder it is monitoring.

Remote Real-Time Monitoring Screen:

Displays information about the current status of the cylinders, and when last contact was made.

Compatible with Multiple Cylinder Types:

Each channel can be individually tuned therefore each cylinder can be different from the last in size, weight, pressure and agent type.

For further question or to place an order, contact Coltraco.

Fire & Explosion: A constant threat to miners

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.

What are the Distress® and db levels of the Portamonitor®?

Coltraco’s Portamonitor® is a sophisticated AE device that combines Distress® and db levels that provides a real-time evaluation to give the user accurate knowledge of any defects that may be present in any kind of bearing, for example; roller and ball types. Sound generated by friction and impacts caused by poor lubrication or bearing damage propagates as a stress wave, detectable by the Portamonitor®.

Signal is processed at sensor level allowing quick and effective diagnostics. The Portamonitor® can be used for pre-service (proof) testing as well as in-service (re-qualification) testing and condition monitoring. 

What are Distress® and db level?

Together Distress® and db level help diagnose defects at sensor level by providing simple alert indications relating to phenomena occurring at the defect location. Generally speaking, Distress® provides an instant indication of the health of the bearings. It measures the transient activity, such as impacts, friction and surface deformation caused by micro-pitting and fractures.

The overall measurement is the summation of abnormal signals generated by defective bearings. Elastic waves that are produced as a result of cracks, fractures or debris produce different frequencies. Algorithms inside the Portamonitor® sort this data for comparison against acceptable limits categorised by a number.

The display on the Portamonitor® will show a numeric value indicating the level of distress, for instance: 5-10 indicates the system in “OK”. Between the value of 10-15 indicates the system is “SUSPECT”, and requires further monitoring, whereas >15 indicates a “POOR” system and requires attention. To help with this understanding, the following chart shows simulated example results and a description of what can be immediately determined:

Looking at this data an operator can determine that gearbox No. 1 and 5 need further investigation, with 5 being the priority since gearbox 1 is SUSPECT, but gearbox 5 is POOR. It may be the case that lubricating a bearing may show a decrease in the Distress® value to an acceptable level thus avoiding a shut-down period. This can be determined at this point.

In use alongside Distress®, db level indicators are used which show the overall bearing noise. This is dependent on rotating speed and will increase as rotating speeds increases, but will also increase during the degradation of bearings, or if inadequate lubrication is present. Decibel indicators work on a logarithmic scale, which basically translates very large or very small numbers into a more intuitive form, usually between 0 – 100. Sharp increases in db level indicate imminent failure. Also, db trends can be monitored to establish the overall condition of bearings. Again, to show this we look at some example data to the right.

The trend of db level with time is particularly useful for indicating the rate of deterioration. As can be seen on this chart. This increase in db level over time indicates a serious problem prevailing. Most of the complicated post-processing has been completed within the device making it very easy to understand. Both of these parameters are included simultaneously on the Portamonitor® providing a time and cost effective all-around simple to use device suitable for the monitoring of bearing degradation in all industries. 

How can smart technology allow you to reach the Safeship

The crew have a responsibility to implement the regulations via regular testing, which enabled through smart ultrasonic technology and IoT, should be done continuously to avoid negligence and unnecessary risk. 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. In order to create a Safeship® the crew must be in full understanding of the status their safety systems at all times and not just at the times of the inspections – achieved by continuous monitoring.

Gaseous extinguishing systems must be able to actuate, or release their gas, in the event of a fire. Given that the gaseous systems are designed specifically to the individual need of the vessel, and it is known that they leak, then a 5% loss of agent may mean that they would not fully extinguish the fire. These are pressurised systems, so the point of monthly checking for contents is to identify loss of contents through leakage or accidental discharge before they fall below their capacity to extinguish (technically described as: delivering their design concentration). Only having the annual inspection by accredited marine servicing companies is not enough – the crew must take responsibility for its own fire protection and inspecting the gaseous extinguishing systems. But what if there is leakage in between these monthly checks?  With fewer, even lower-skilled crew and a greater dependence on autonomous machinery, the dependence on fire systems being checked from shore, let alone on the ship in person, will only become greater. 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.

Smart technology provides the crew and ship owners with ease of inspection and understanding their extinguishing systems. However, the crew will not be able to refill the gaseous extinguishing system, and instead must rely on notifying the marine servicing company when they arrive at a port, despite the fact that they may only be at the port for a very short amount of time. Due to time pressures, the risk of not being able to find a contractor in time to fill the cylinders in the event of leakage is one that could jeopardise the safety of the entire ship when it is time to set sail. Furthermore, it is well known that vessels are kept at the dock for a minimum amount of time, which reduces time for repairs and thus efficiency without compromise of safety is key. Continuously monitoring the cylinders with ultrasonic sensors that utilises IoT can avoid this, because the network contribution. Using IoT enables the advance notification of the crew and shore based services whilst at sea. Therefore, preparations to address the issues can be made prior to docking to ensure the issues are resolved given the minimum time they have. By having the ability to understand the contents’ level of their gaseous extinguishing systems whilst at sea, the crew are also able to comply and exceed the IMO SOLAS FSS and ISO 14520 regulations, whilst ensuring the Safeship®.

Portalevel® Max Nippon: Produced for Japan

Through exploring the Japanese Fire Protection market in detail in our country partners, several unique requirements were identified to properly serve the local customer base. As a result of this, a specially adapted unit was created, allowing customers to take advantage of the 8th Generation Technology, in the form optimized for specific tailored local requirements. Thicker, more power absorbing Japanese made a cylinders demanded a specially tailored calibration capability and increased power output. This offers customers the usability of the Portalevel Max technology even on the more challenging applications. It is considered to be the 7th Generation of Portable Ultrasonic Liquid Level Indicator named to be Portalevel Max Nippon.

Features Provided By Coltraco

You can avail mentioned below features along with lowest ultrasonic level indicator price. Coltraco has an impressive record of facilitating customers with reliable, efficient and high quality services. So, give a look to some of the features it offers with Portalevel Max Nippon!

  • Three years warranty
  • Lifetime Support
  • Specially designed for Japanese Market
  • Fast Operation
  • Service a cylinder in under30 seconds
  • Not radioactive
  • Ultrasonic clean technology
  • Class Approved
  • Accurate to 1.5mm
  • Measures multibank rows 2-4 deep

You can browse through other Portalevel Product Range as well.

How do you measure liquid level with 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 now operate the controls and a new digital screen provides clear and definitive results to the user. The 7 steps below outline the simple testing process. Further technical support for this ultrasonic leak detector is available to all users for the lifetime of the equipment if required.

How to operate Portalevel Max by Coltraco?

  • 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.

Portalevel Max 8th Generation
This liquid level indicator is designed primarily to meet your measuring requirements of liquid levels enclosed in cylinders. See the brochure here: via PDF

Capable and Reliable: Portamarine®

The Portamarine has been specifically designed to meet the needs of the shipping industry and has proven a capable and reliable unit over many years. In use with many thousand Vessel and Marine service stations worldwide, it is specifically designed for safely, quickly and accurately inspecting marine CO2 fire suppression systems. It allows vessel owners to comply with IMO SOLAS requirements which specify the need to have the means onboard to allow crew to safely inspect the fire systems. The Portamarine® has been specifically designed for testing multi-banked CO2 Cylinder Fire Suppression System Cylinders, stored in 2, 3 or 4 rows deep, to make the process as quick as possible to complete. It can also operate on the vast majority of other fire system agents including FM200™, NOVEC 1230™, Halon (for Defence applications) and all other clean agent systems.

Coltraco Ultrasonics has produced this liquid level indicator specifically to meet the corresponding needs of Marine Industry. The equipment is fully Classification Society Approved, accurate to +/-1.5mm and proves a significantly safer and quicker solution when compared to weighing as a means of identifying cylinder content.

Optional Extras with Portamarine® – Ultrasonic Level Indicator

Additional Sensors

  • Wet Sensors – For rugged applications such as poor conditioned or rusty cylinders
  • Dry Sensor – For Standard Applications

Portatherm™

  • Infrared thermometer providing quick indication of ambient temperatures

Ancillary Parts

Multi-Banked Extension Rod

  • Standard Rod – 28mm wide, normal build. Ideal for vast majority of applications.
  • Slim line rod – only 14mm wide and lightweight, ideal for where cylinders are tightly packed.

Gas Monitors

We also provide a wide range of Portable Gas Monitors when required.

After Sales Support

By purchasing the Portamarine® from Coltraco you can be assured of our full support to ensure you become a confident and competent user. If ever you require additional support or would like a Telephone Teach-In from one of our Technical Team please call +44 1761 241 601 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For further information, download PDF

The main cause of vessel loss is sinking

As the main cause of vessel loss is sinking, the maintenance, testing and monitoring of watertight hatches, doors and multiple cable transits on vessels is essential. A watertight hatch cover is designed to prevent the passage of water in either direction under a head of water for which the surrounding structure is designed.  Many mariners may think hatches are robust, monolithic structures, thereby failing to appreciate the small tolerances on panel alignment and gasket compression. It is better to think of hatches as complex, finely-made structures, to be handled with care. All types of seals, experience dynamic stresses as part of their operational lifetime. For example, 4mm wear on the steel-to-steel contact is sufficient to damage rubber sealing gaskets beyond repair; 5mm sag along the cross-joint can cause a large gap between the compression bar and gasket. The importance of continually maintaining seal integrity should take a more prominent position in ship maintenance scheduling.

The future of watertight integrity testing is with continuous monitoring. A lack of proper servicing of seals can lead to deterioration which endanger the lives of the crew, vessel and cargo.  The large issue here is that ships are only tested before and after one or perhaps several journeys; yet a leak could occur at any point in between testing and continue unnoticed until the next inspection. A vessel generates its leak sites due to load states, sea states, wind states, and dynamic movement. The severity is amplified within a vessel structure constantly changing by varying sea, wind, load states, cargo types and dynamic stresses. There is a great deal of bending and deformation that naturally occurs in ships during travel. It was found that a comprehensive, autonomous continuous monitoring system for the watertight integrity of a ship’s cargo hatches, weathertight doors and other seals is possible to be developed. One that is capable of automatically detecting emerging leak sites, alerting officers and crew of the location and severity of the leak site and logging all data for future review. The developments in continuous monitoring technology being undertaken by Coltraco Ultrasonics will drive the industry towards ensuring that watertight integrity is never left to chance.

The case study of the Emma Maersk exemplifies the danger of improper servicing. A severe leakage occurred on the container ship in February 2013 when it was loaded with 14,000 containers. The leakage was caused by the mechanical break-down of a stern thruster, creating the shaft tunnel to flood, as well as leading to severe ingress of water in the aft part. This led to flooding of the main engine room. This was caused by non-effective cable penetration sealings: in a sudden blast, four cable penetration sealings in the watertight bulkhead gave way to the water pressure followed by a massive ingress of seawater. Shortly after this, the other three cable penetration sealings also failed, resulting in an even larger ingress of water into the engine room. This led to approximately USD 45 million worth of damages and towage cost.

Test corrosion the smart way: true metal readings

The Portagauge®ultrasonic thickness gauge of units can easily be adapted to a variety of different roles and requirements.

  • Lifetime Support
  • Designed for Corrosion testing
  • Three years warranty
  • Ignored paint layer
  • 50 hours battery life
  • Ultrasonic technology
  • 225MHz probe included as standard
  • Accurate to 0.1mm off the true liquid level

Specifications of Portagauge 4®

  • It measures the true metal thickness, excluding coating and paint thickness.
  • Ideal for most common thickness gauging applications onboard ships by marine superintendents
  • This device is applicable for bridges, pilings storage tanks, lighting columns, ship hulls, bulk heads, pipe work, steel/stainless steel, cast iron, aluminum, copper, brass, zinc, quartz, glass, PVC, poleythyience, grey cast iron amongst others.
  • Automatic Measurement Verification System (AMVS) ensures only true measurements are displayed by checking a minimum of three echoes each time the ultrasound pulses through the metal Intelligent.
  • Probe Recognition (IPR), which automatically adjusts settings in the gauge at the same time as transmitting recognition data large colour.
  • LCD Display giving user information. Single crystal soft faced probe protected by a membrane.
  • Easy calibration with menu driven buttons echo strength indicator.
  • No zeroing required as all sensors use a single crystal which means that no specific alignment is required when measuring on curved or rounded surfaces.
  • User friendly with soft- molded rubber surround which is also comfortable to hold and provides extra protection.

For further information, download PDF

 

CEO Message

Integrity and Science Key to Our Culture of Performance

Dear Coltraco Customers, Strategic Partners and Distributors,

Integrity is our defining value. Performance is its consequence. We understand that our customers have choices, and how we perform determines whether customers choose us. Coltraco’s Code of Ethics does not merely require compliance with laws. It embodies a Commitment to positive behaviours that build trust, promote respect, operate with distinction, with courtesy and global levels of performance, demonstrating our integrity and delivering customer performance.

We honour our commitments, communicate transparently, and act with honour. Ethics are the foundation of our performance culture and our science-based approach. We lead in specific technologies delivering the watertight integrity monitoring of marine structures and the monitoring of fixed liquefied gaseous fire extinguishing systems and the room integrity of protected space to ensure agent hold-times post-installation. We show this by our understanding of the science in them and the mathematics that explain them.

I would like to thank you for your business and for the relationships with our Customers, Strategic Partners, Distributors and ODAs who we value so highly.

My kindest regards,
Carl

Carl Stephen Patrick Hunter BA(Dunelm) Hon DSc FRINA FIMarEST MRAeS
CEO & Managing Director
Coltraco Ultrasonics Limited
46-47 Mount Street, Mayfair, London W1K 2SA
United Kingdom

Tel:  +44 20 7629 8475
Fax: +44 20 7629 8477

Call Now : +44 207 629 8475

 

References in PDF Format

 

Underwriters LaboratoriesUnderwriters Laboratories

 

Reference Alpha Fire UK Portalevel MAX Sept 2012

Reference Portascanner-II CSD MOD Albion and Bulwark

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