EQUIPMENT/ENGINEERING: Valve condition, status tagging system allows scanning and central management

Sept. 1, 2001
Hydratight Sweeney's system combines an asset tracking system used in other industries with the company's own knowledge in joint integrity for the offshore industry.

A new version of a joint integrity management system, JIMS 2000, has been developed by Hydratight Sweeney (Darlaston, West Midlands, UK) for the offshore industry. The service firm argues that with the HSE reporting little or no progress in reducing hydrocarbon leaks, operators must take a more proactive stance.

The company claims that JIMS is a fully integrated system devoted to control and manage bolted joint integrity. They further state that the only way to achieve a truly leak-free system is through improving the management control processes at every stage of the flange assembly and tightening operation. JIMS uses a system that identifies individual flanges, records their history and ensures that a competent technician performs the correct actions or maintenance program.

Hydratight Sweeney's system combines an asset tracking system used in other industries with the company's own knowledge in joint integrity for the offshore industry. The original breakthrough for the system came with the development of new tagging technology and radio frequency transponder tags. These provide a unique reference and access all preprogramed information for a joint, including flange and bolt specs, gasket specs, procedures, and other information. Importantly, the encapsulated tags can survive aggressive climates offshore. They will even withstand painting without any effect on their operation.

By identifying each flange joint or valve via its tag with a hand-held scanner, the technician records any actions performed on it. Following this, the hand held unit downloads its information onto a central computer.

Any missed joints will not have been scanned so the central computer will pick it up. Also, if the wrong joint is identified by accident, this will be highlighted on the technician's hand held scanner. The scope for human error is therefore minimized.

By improving the control process and employing best practice at every stage of the flange or valve management program, the system will reduce the maintenance costs and platform shutdown times. The system also provides traceable information to benchmark best practice and identifies the technicians responsible at every stage of the shutdown or maintenance operation.

In terms of planning and reporting software, the system allows the engineer to search for information in several different ways, either for a given project, by asset or individual joint, or by action. The latter might identify which joints were changed, machined, or are still awaiting assembly for a particular service. A search may also involve any combination of these three.

The latest version also improves the information loaded onto a hand-held scanner, making it possible to download only the data relevant to a specific work program. An example of this might be to download to the hand held unit the flange joints linked to a particular isolation certificate. This enables better work planning and ensures that technicians can only complete specific tasks required.

Another new feature allows the technician to check whether flanges and valves are open or closed. The system can be interrogated in both directions so that prior to testing the system it can check that all the flanges and valves have been reinstated.

Equally, the status of spectacle blinds can now be recorded and checked using the scanner. The hand-held unit on scanning the spectacle blind's tag will automatically prompt the technician to record its status. The hand-held unit downloads this information onto the main computer and valve isolation is checked in the same way.