Nondestructive Inspection and Predictive Maintenance Plans Prevent Expensive Unscheduled Downtime

hydrostatic pipe test

When it comes to your high-pressure water systems, the only thing worse that unscheduled downtime is extended unscheduled downtime. If the components of your system are old and are subjected to thousands of pressure cycles per day, fatigue failure of one or more of the components will eventually happen due to cyclic loading.

Most equipment manufacturers take the cyclic loading of pipe testing into account and design systems which are durable and built to withstand millions of cycles before any chance of fatigue cracking would occur. That being said, most operators are not implementing a predictive maintenance program which takes into account the number of cycles that a piece of machinery has been subjected to since it was installed or what the original manufacturer has calculated as the fatigue life of the design. If you know your system is older but do not know the exact age or number of pressure cycles, you may be at risk for an unexpected failure. 

Common methods used to reduce the possibility of unexpected sudden failures from fatigue cracking are routine nondestructive test (NDT) inspections.  This type of preventative maintenance program can help to identify and correct a fatigue cracking problem that is starting before it takes your system down.

Once a fatigue crack is discovered, the cracked component in the system needs to be replaced. Weld repair of fatigue cracks, even with the proper excavation and welding processes used, often only serves as a temporary fix and places the system at a high probability of failure. This is why most producers have usable spare components on hand. However, in many cases these spares are rotated in and out of service as needed for general repairs over the life cycle of the machine. Because of this rotating duty cycle and the lack of a predictive maintenance program that is based on the cyclic pressure loading design life, your spare may also be at the end of its fatigue life cycle, keeping your operation at risk without you knowing it.

Implementation of an NDT inspection preventative maintenance program that also includes tracking the number of pressure cycles that a component has been subjected to provides users with a reliable program in place to prevent unplanned failures.  

In addition to saving costs from unscheduled downtime, users who implement preventative maintenance programs can improve the accuracy and efficiency of their testing equipment by incorporating features such as Limit Switches, LVDT sensors and corrosion protection, to name a few. Some intensifier cylinders (like those available from Hunt Valve) incorporate these features which can be used to control the test pressure, duration etc.

Knowing the useful fatigue life remaining on your system components combined with performing routine nondestructive inspections as a part of your preventive maintenance plan helps to uncover problems when they first start to occur. This is ideal to prevent unexpected downtime which can be significant and expensive in an older system. 

For pipe manufacturing facilities, Hunt Valve creates custom hydraulic intensifiers and associated valving for high pressure needs, as well as low pressure water hydraulic control valves for material handling functions. Hunt’s intensifiers are designed to withstand millions of pressure cycles, and with general routing rebuilding, they typically deliver more than 20 years of service. For more information, contact us or request a quote.

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