An oilfield services company experienced an incident while performing a pressure test on a piece of equipment. During the test, the technician inadvertently created an overpressure situation that damaged the equipment and sent a piece of metal shrapnel flying through the warehouse’s metal roof, over a highway, and through the storefront window of a local business. Despite strictly following the standard operating procedure for pressure testing, the investigation team determined that the root cause of the incident was an out-of-calibration pressure gauge that was reading well below the actual pressure. Fortunately, no death or injury resulted from the situation, but this just goes to show that improper pressure gauge calibration can lead to unsafe conditions.
Calibrated Gauges – Mitigate Risk, Ensure Quality and Efficiency
Pressure is a crucial physical state variable in industrial processes. It provides insight into the pressure conditions of liquids and gases in production lines and the load on equipment. The range of pressure measurement applications is extensive, from simple monitoring to ensure pressure levels are within required ranges, to being part of a sophisticated automation system that continuously monitors a technological process.
In addition to mitigating safety risks, properly installed and calibrated pressure measuring instruments play a crucial role in ensuring the quality and efficiency of processes across many industries. These instruments help monitor and control the pressure in pipelines, pumps, tanks, and other equipment, enabling plant operators to make adjustments as needed to maintain optimal conditions. This helps prevent product waste, improve process efficiency, and ultimately ensures that the end product meets quality standards. Industries that rely on pressure measurement include, but are not limited to, chemical processing, oil and gas, food and beverage, energy, and water treatment.
In the oil and gas industry, drilling companies measure pressure to optimize the drilling process and prevent well control incidents by monitoring and controlling the flow of drilling fluids downhole. Manufacturers of boilers, pressure vessels, and tanks rely on pressure measurements to produce products that meet industry standards for use in refineries and petrochemical plants. Power plants rely on precise pressure monitoring to maintain a proper vacuum in their condensers, enabling their steam generators to produce power efficiently. In water treatment facilities, accurate pressure measurement is critical in maintaining the proper flow of water and waste through treatment processes, ensuring the final treated water meets regulatory standards.
Routine Pressure Gauge Calibration
Routine calibration of pressure monitoring gauges ensures that the instruments are operating properly and within their specified tolerance range. It is also necessary in many industries for regulatory compliance and to avoid potential associated fines, liability, legal action, or even shutdown of production. For example, the American Petroleum Institute (API) requires many oilfield equipment manufacturing companies in Houston to undergo audits and earn certifications. The API sets strict standards for the accuracy and frequency of calibration for pressure gauges used in the oil and gas industry. Another widely recognized developer of mechanical and multidisciplinary engineering codes and standards is the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). ASME sets standards for pressure gauge fittings and calibration in the design, fabrication, testing, installation and operations of boilers and pressure vessels. Failing to meet these standards can lead to penalties, suspension of operations, and tarnish a company’s reputation.
Non-Routine Pressure Gauge Calibration and Maintenance
Aside from regular compliance checks, certain situations may indicate that a pressure gauge should be calibrated or serviced:
- physical damage to a gauge, such as dropping or striking it
- a sudden change in a gauge’s reading
- drift in readings over time
- equipment malfunctions
- processes not operating as expected
- unexpected product failures
The wrong type of fitting, clogged gauge connections, and improperly aligned threads can all impede proper gauge functioning as well. For instance, in higher-pressure applications, an NPT (National Pipe Taper) fitting rated up to 15K PSI (pounds per square inch) is likely to leak and give incorrect readings. Additionally, processes that expose pressure gauges to conditions such as vibration, pulsation, extreme temperatures, and corrosive chemicals can contribute to a gauge more quickly degrading and losing proper functionality. Choosing the proper gauge and installation methods for a given process while taking into account the required durability, accuracies, and ranges can mitigate these negative effects.
At Thermo-Temp, our focus is not just calibrating pressure gauges, but ensuring complete customer satisfaction. We want to understand your specific needs and the processes involved before we sell, install, or calibrate equipment. Our team of experts will provide you with the right advice to choose the right gauge for the job. Since 1976, Thermo-Temp has become a trusted name in pressure gauge calibration and servicing. Whether you need on-site calibrations or comprehensive lab services, we have a dedicated and experienced team ready to meet your needs.