XERVON Instandhaltung, the company’s maintenance experts, are offering new ways to monitor leaks by using a system that responds to sound generated at ultrasonic frequencies – a service that also includes all documentation, of course. This technology enables compressed air, nitrogen and other gas leaks to be identified and located in an even more reliable, safer and, importantly, faster way. A revolutionary ultrasonic camera is at the heart of this system. Equipped with 128 strategically positioned microphones, it is able to detect even the smallest of sound waves and visualise them on a screen. The sound level reaches the individual microphones, time shifted at intervals of less than one millisecond. This difference makes it possible to determine the exact location of the source of the noise and, consequently, the leak. The precise position of the damaged area is marked on the camera image and can be documented with a photo or video. If the pressure in the pipes is known, then the data can also be used to quantify the leak.
This system not only enables leaks to be detected up to ten times faster than other processes, it also considerably reduces the workload as leaks in parts high above the ground can be identified without having to use some kind of climbing aid.
Thanks to XERVON Instandhaltung’s new offering, the whole detection process can be performed more efficiently – a significant advantage in times where leak analyses are becoming ever more important.
There are a whole host of reasons why companies benefit from gathering exact details about leakage and volume rates as well as from having a precise overview of possible leaks. While safety is, of course, at the very top of the list of reasons, avoiding costly energy loss plays an important role as well. Furthermore, leak checks are essential after work has been carried out on pipe systems to make sure they are working properly and insurance companies need such tests to be performed to be able to assess risks. And let’s not forget the increasing relevance of the inspections being conducted by the authorities and the growing importance of accreditation processes in the area of energy management, of sustainability certificates and of risk and reliability analyses for managing assets.
There are, therefore, many good reasons for checking for leaks. Carrying out the actual work, however, is normally extremely time-consuming – especially when conventional detection systems are used. Standard analyses (for example using directional microphones or leak detector sprays) require all of the pipes in a system to be examined, which, of course, needs time to complete. What’s more, there are always some areas in an industrial plant that are high up and/or difficult to get to, which means special climbing aids have to be brought in or access routes have to be provided, both of which generally involve high costs.
The situation is quite different with an ultrasound camera. It enables XERVON Instandhaltung to conduct their analysis work from a distance. Climbing aids are no longer needed as the leaks can be located from a distance of up to 30 metres. And there is a further advantage when this work has to be performed on equipment in a high-risk area: the leak detection team can keep their distance and check for leaks from a safer environment.
When in use, the camera also scans the areas beyond those seen in the image. Potential leaks outside of the image area are displayed in colour on the edge of the screen. The operatives are, therefore, made aware of leaks beyond their angle of vision. A whole number of valves, pipes and flanges – to name just a few – can be checked in a single sweep. This saves time and increases accuracy as it is impossible to overlook a leak either on or outside of the image.
Using ultrasound cameras to detect leaks is not something that is absolutely new. Having said that though, technological advances have opened up a number of new options for these devices as well. The technological capabilities of the optic/acoustic detectors determine just how accurate the cameras are. The technology used by XERVON Instandhaltung, for example, is able to tolerate loud background noise. This enables the selective detection of leaks and makes it possible for the system to be deployed in plant areas that are particularly noisy.
The camera visually displays a leak as soon as it has been detected. The image and sound are automatically merged together. Subjective influences – which are unavoidable with conventional systems – are ruled out, guaranteeing that the technology only delivers fact-based findings. Besides providing photos and videos, the documentation also supplies a wide range of additional data, including the size of the individual leaks. Quantifying the amount of litres being lost per hour is valuable information – especially when there are a number of different leaks, as operators can then prioritise which should be repaired first.
Companies delivering ultrasound detection services do not only need high performance cameras. Comprehensive experience is also essential. Which is why XERVON Instandhaltung deploys specially trained operatives to carry out this work as well. They have gained extensive expertise from performing their everyday work – knowledge that is always particularly useful when they have to evaluate turbulences, factor in flow processes or isolate echoes.
Having completed its leak detection work, XERVON Instandhaltung can, if requested, use the extensive documentation to draw up bespoke concepts to remedy the problem(s). With the technology delivering reliable findings regarding emissions and energy loss, effective measures can be taken to reduce such leaks. You just need to look at the example of compressed air to see what a difference this can make to the costs. Compressed air is one of the most expensive forms of energy. Despite this fact, huge volumes are often lost, with up to 50% of this amount being caused by leaks. A leak with a diameter of just one millimetre will result in around two litres of air being lost every second when the pressure is just 12 bar. The compressors have to use much more energy to compensate for the loss in pressure – a cost factor that is easy to remedy.