How do you Maintain Site Safety and Efficiency?

A breather valve, pre and post service

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has contacted two of our customers in the past week, requesting evidence of their site’s preventative maintenance and management of ageing plant plans.

How do you service your breather vents? A simple visual inspection is no longer accepted by the HSE. They need to be calibrated, leakage tested and certified as fully functional. If you don’t look after them they could lead to your plant being closed, a fine by the HSE or worse still, harm to your employees or loss of life. It is that serious.

Breather vents lose their ability to seal over time. We often inspect vents that have had weight added to the pallet assembly to compensate for poor sealing.

This is a very dangerous correction because it would not be picked up unless we had conducted a weight test as part of our calibration check. It could result in a collapsed tank. The subsequent HSE investigation would centre on why the weight was added, by whom and for what reason.

The conservation of vapours and the minimisation of water ingress are key elements in sustaining the quality of stored liquids. Storage tanks are typically large volume, low pressure vessels so the provision of tight sealing and adequate vapour/air exchange is essential.

An efficient breather vent safely conserves vapours up to the maximum allowable working pressure of the tank. Many tanks have nitrogen blanketing. Any loss of nitrogen is expensive and savings are immediate if the vent is serviced and tested correctly.

We recently assisted a customer with annual nitrogen costs in excess of £250k. With calibrated breather vents and blanketing gas regulators we saved the customer £90k in the first three months following completion of our work which cost less than £15k.

Servicing, which includes calibration and leakage tests, is fast becoming a basic health and safety requirement. As experts in valve sales and installation and maintenance, we recommend an annual check for each valve on site. Any changes to calibration, in-depth remedial work and exterior coating needs more extensive work.

With our mobile test equipment, fully equipped service vehicles and comprehensively trained engineers, we can provide onsite servicing at your facility.

We can also offer offsite servicing. This will involve taking the valve back to our state-of-the-art workshop and taking it apart, piece by piece, checking every component. When fixing a valve, we always begin with a full survey. Only then will we be able to determine the necessary repairs. We cannot diagnose potential problems until we have completely disassembled the valve.

We sometimes find that key components have been eroded. We use the authentic manufacturer’s replacements where possible, however if lead time is an issue or the parts are obsolete we have sophisticated machining and fabrication capabilities to create complex components ourselves.

Every valve is fully serviced, calibrated and tested before being returned to site to resume operation. Lead times are kept to a minimum and will save you weeks compared to a new replacement.

External coatings are another important aspect of the valve. These can deteriorate, for example on fibreglass valves due to UV degradation. But now that we are fully equipped with our new Paint Facility, we are quickly able to re-finish vents as new and return to site.

The key to reliable breather vent performance is structured regular checks. A full strip and removal from the tank every year is not necessary in most cases unless the application is extremely severe. In most cases a combination of full service and calibration can be followed by one or even two routine annual visual checks.

Some deterioration of the vent and its components can be visible if compared to their as new condition. Assentech can work with operators and train site maintenance staff to conduct structured annual inspections so that we are only called in to calibrate and certify in the second or even third year.

Ultimately we can make the valve virtually as good as new. We can bring what would otherwise be considered an obsolete product back up to factory-new condition. The potential cost savings are huge. You can see the difference in the photos (opposite).

Servicing and maintaining valves isn’t necessarily rocket science, but it does need specialist knowledge and equipment. Our customers are happy to let us focus on the performance of their vents while they concentrate on running their business.

The initial benefits of servicing, calibrating and certifying breather vents may not be so clear but once you consider the cost to a business following a contaminated load going into production, a collapsed tank or action by the Environment Agency, the pay back for servicing, calibrating and certifying the performance of your breather vents makes sense.

More information can be found at are-you/user.htm or breather-vents/ .Assentech Rapid Response and Service Limited

Tel: 01726 844 707

Published in Valve User Magazine Issue 34

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