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As a business owner it is painful when your customers say “I didn’t know you did that”.  During this great recessions our business has scaled back and although each year seems to get a little better we are nowhere near the production we had in 2007 and 2008.  So when some of your best and longest customers aren’t aware of products or services we offer it is extremely frustrating on the road of fiscal recovery.  I guess this is painful because it shows that our message is getting lost in the product offering we make to certain customers.

One such customer has had us hydrostatically pressure test valves for them for years.  They have been in our fabrication facility hundreds of times and they had no idea that we could weld and fabricate stainless steel piping.  This happens to be one of our many specialities as many other fabrication shops subcontract with us to provide stainless steel piping runs.  Our quality and value is higher and better than other shops can do in house.  Another customer had no idea we could build all types of pressure vessels and heat exchangers.  They had only ordered inlet separators from us thus, that’s all they thought we made.  Yet, we build refrigeration packages, cabin heaters, gas processing plants, distillation towers, chillers, filters, and just about anything else that has a midstream application.  In addition we build specialized skid mounted packages for prototyping and product development.

Precision Pipe is learning that we just because we offer many products it doesn’t mean that anyone knows about them.  Thus, we have started a new campaign of a quarterly news letter highlighting products we have built in the previous months.  Likewise we are supplementing our webpage with a link to our line card.  This will allow every email, quote, inquiry to have a direct link to our products and services.  We are hopeful we never hear “I didn’t know you did that” ever again.

http://www.precision-pipe.com

High Quality Welding

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 A fantastic Article found on: http://www.csb.gov/newsroom/detail.aspx?nid=293

November 09, 2009

Without appropriate safeguards, pressure vessels can pose lethal dangers.
Washington, DC, November 9, 2009 – CSB Chairman John Bresland released a new video safety message today asking jurisdictions across the country to adopt the ASME Pressure Vessel Code to reduce the number of accidents involving catastrophic pressure vessel failures in process industries.
The safety message can be viewed on CSB.gov and on the CSB’s safety message channel,www.youtube.com/safetymessages.
In the safety message, Chairman Bresland warned that without appropriate safeguards, pressure vessels can pose lethal dangers. Chairman Bresland said, “Pressure vessels store tremendous amounts of energy and you should never become complacent about the risks.”
Particular danger exists when vessels are improperly installed, welded, or modified, or when they lack effective pressure relief systems. Mr. Bresland refers to several incidents investigated by the CSB including an explosion at a Louisiana natural gas well that killed four workers when a tank rated only for atmospheric pressure was exposed to gas pressure up to 800 pounds per square inch.
In April 2003, an 8-foot tank used to heat sugar caramel exploded when the vent line became blocked, killing an overnight operator, releasing large amounts of ammonia, and forcing a community evacuation. The vessel had no pressure-relief system.
Additionally, in 2004 a pressure vessel weighing 50,000-pounds exploded at a chemical plant in Houston, Texas, throwing heavy fragments into the community, which damaged a church and businesses.  The CSB found that the company improperly modified and welded the vessel.
Chairman Bresland stated that these accidents can be avoided if states implement long-established codes for safe use. He said, “There are only eleven states that do not require companies to follow the Pressure Vessel Code of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). I ask all jurisdictions to adopt the Pressure Vessel Code and related boiler standards. Lives will be saved as a result.”
The ASME Code provides the fundamental safeguards for pressure vessels, including design, welding procedures and fabrication, testing, and pressure relief. In 2006, the CSB called upon the City of Houston to adopt the Code to protect residents and industrial facilities from these incidents. However, Houston has failed to implement this recommendation despite reoccurring pressure vessel failures such as a summer of 2008 heat exchanger explosion in a resin-production facility that killed a veteran supervisor.
The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents. The agency’s board members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems.
The Board does not issue citations or fines but does make safety recommendations to plants, industry organizations, labor groups, and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA.
A powerful reminder about the purpose of the ASME code and the dangers of not using a qualified and certified ASME code shop for repairs and alterations.  The nominal costs of making proper repairs to ASME pressure vessels is insignificant to the potential loss of human life. Likewise, the risk of installing non-code vessels is equally dangerous and potentially deadly.

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New Year, new beginnings- same results?  That is not so bad when the last year was successful – or is it?

Recently, I have noticed that I am currently NOT doing much in the way of self-improvement other than maintaining the successful practices I have adopted last year.  On the surface this seems benign – after all, if it’s working, why change?  I can’t help but think…..what if?  What if I can add or tweak some of those successful things 2-5% for the better?  Wouldn’t that be worth the time investment to enhance what I do well? Certainly.

In business, we often focus our attention on our defects over the past year and give our organization the same old pep talk involving words such as, “We cannot continue…and/or Knock it off.”  This exercise is well worth the time and effort.  Making efforts NOT to repeat mistakes is always a worthwhile endeavor especially when your competency and reputation is on the line.  What about the things you do well?  Does your organization look to improve upon the good things that you do, even if it is “just” a 2-5% improvement.  (Example:  If your organization is good at turning quotes around what if you improved it by a couple of hours?  Soon, those hours – turn into day(s).)

Sometimes the smallest of efforts to improve what you do well can pay the biggest dividends.

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It wasn’t too long ago that I walked onto a refinery job site that Precision Pipe was supply equipment to.  At this site I saw an interesting event about to transpire.  A welder who was not associated with our company was getting ready to light a torch next to a vessel we had just delivered the day before. It appeared to me that he intended to cut into the vessel. Surprised to be seeing this, I quickly made my way over to him to see what he was doing.  He informed me that the construction manager (from a well respected and large engineering firm) instructed him to make a modification to the pressure vessel as a solution to a piping problem.  I asked him to stand by for a second so that we could discuss with plant manger the implications his modifications might have.

The welder became rather irritated with me and informed me he had his directions and he intended to follow them.  For those of you that are unfamiliar with the ASME code, let me explain the implications of this kind of modification in the ASME code world. First, if the welder had actually brought his torch to the shell of the vessel he would have undone the ASME certification on that vessel.  In other words the vessel would have no longer been a certified ASME pressure vessel and the customer would have wasted several thousands of dollars on that pressure vessel.  As the manufacturer I would have been required to remove the name plate from that vessel the moment I saw the flame come into contact with it. Second, that vessel would have no longer been acceptable to use on the job site as it was being implemented at a refinery in an ASME mandatory site and State.  Lastly, Precision would have likely had to of retaken possession of that vessel, repair it according to ASME standards, re-certify and qualify the vessel as meeting the ASME code.  The vessel would have also required a second name plate identifying it as an “R” or “Repaired” pressure vessel.

The reality of the situation was, the construction manager was under immense pressure to complete the project and at that point he was willing to cut corners.  What he didn’t anticipate was getting caught in a major blunder which would have added greater delays and expense to his project.  Anything worth doing is worth doing right and this is especially true for engineered products like ASME vessels. Knowing what the proper proceeders are for welding and modifying an ASME pressure vessel is imperative.  In this situation, the only way to modify the vessel is following the ASME code by using a qualified ASME shop with an “R” stamp.  Any welding or cutting on an ASME pressure vessel must be performed by a qualified shop that is in good standing with the National Board.  The pressure vessel will have to be reinspected by a third party authorized inspector and may need to have X-ray and hydrostatic testing to keep the ASME certification and name plate.

As an ASME qualified shop we encourage anyone to use us or another code shop as a resource to answer any question you may have on qualifications, modifications, and inspection of ASME pressure vessels, Heat Exchanger, or Boiler’s.  We would rather take a few minutes to understand and explain what your options are according to the code then risk an accident or injury .  In addition, if we can simply answer your question this a a free service we offer to any prospective customer.  If you are a plant manager and you are unsure if you can use any certified welder?  Give us a call and we can walk you though what it takes to maintain your ASME certifications.  If you have an ASME pressure vessel, Heat Exchanger, or Boiler that needs work or an addition of a nozzle or coupling.  Call us we can tell you what you must do to add the new components in a safe and code qualified manner.

As it turns out I was able to get the welder to wait a minute.  Explaining to him the consequences of his modification calmed him down long enough to bring in the decision makers.  The plant manager, the construction manager (having tucked his tail between his legs), and I all discussed the changes that were necessary and it was ultimately decided a ‘T’ in the process piping was the most effective work around for the problem.  Having an ASME specialist onsite that day saved thousands of dollars, countless hours, and potentially the integrity of the plants operational safety in the future.  Don’t be shy to email or call us or any other ASME qualified shop to discuss your project or equipment with ASME name plates. Your local rig welder or fabrication shop may be good, they may be able, they may even have a piece of paper that  say’s they are certified to make a weld. However, it is imperative you at least speak with a shop that is ASME qualified before you make any welds on a certified ASME pressure vessel.

http://www.Precision-Pipe.com

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Interestingly enough, I have not noticed requirements of regulations in customer specifications regarding the concept of welder continuity. Welder continuity is the idea that a welder must continue to weld using a given process within a six month period to remain a “qualified welder” (See ASME Sec. IX, QW-322). ASME Section IX states that if a welder “has not welded with a process during a period of six months or more” he must be re-qualified. So just because a welder has passed a GMAW weld procedure qualification in the past does not mean he is qualified for the rest of his life. For example, if a shop makes a welder pass welding tests for GMAW and GTAW in order to be hired but then only uses the welder for GMAW for the next eight months the welder’s GTAW qualification has expired and he must be re-qualified. You’re probably thinking, “what a pain” and you could be right! If you do not have a continuity log for your welders showing the welding processes they have used within a six month period since they qualified it could get very difficult to remember who is still qualified for what! Continuity Log. This is a simple spread sheet that records the date and procedure a welder passed the qualification test and then maintains a running log recording that a welder has used the welding process every six months. I underline process because if you have multiple welding procedures for the same process (GMAW for carbon steel and stainless steel, etc.) then the welder remains qualified for every weld procedure he has successfully tested for within the same PROCESS by welding any of the weld procedures within that process. Every six months you simply review the log and record a date and a reference number (to either a job, a part, a test) that the welder was working on for a given process. If the welder has not used a process in the six month period you simply grab a couple of pieces of scrap material and have him weld it for you. Then record the job number and move to the next welder. It seems very simple and it is. Even if you use rig welders or a mobile welding service you can call and have them stop in for an hour to make a weld or two then record it on the log. The nice thing about the log is you always have a reference to review for which welders are qualified for your welding procedures if you keep it up to date. The bad thing is it only comes around every six months which makes it really easy to put on the back burner and forget about. When it comes time for a quality audit and someone asks to see it or asks how you keep track of your welder qualifications it can become a simple check mark or a sticking point. Feel free to stop by Precision Pipe & Vessel and ask to see our welder continuity log. We like check marks!

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It’s interesting to me to see cycles in the work place. It seems to me that early in the industrial age the thought of a safe work place was quite simply “be careful”. I’ve seen pictures of men working on the erection of the Empire State Building with no fall protection, no hard hats, no sign stating how many days they had gone without an accident, minimal safety equipment what-so-ever!  In just a quick search (and my next statement may be totally bogus) I found to believe that the construction company only had five fatalities in the fifteen month duration which employed 3500 laborers for more the seven million hours of labor. Considering that the building is over 1,400 feet tall that’s pretty dang impressive (see the link below). I’m not sure what happened between the 1930’s and 1971 but it appears that people either stopped caring about being careful or we bred caution right out of the gene pool. Now I’m relatively young and I don’t remember the start of the unions; I honestly don’t remember when OSHA first started but somewhere along the line people started believing that it is the responsibility of any company in the United States to protect employees from every possible scenario that either “might” or “could” happen while someone is at work. My first experience with OSHA left a lasting impression on me that still resonates in my mind, “We have to protect people from themselves”. I have seen people standing on top of forty foot tall fiberglass storage tanks (with a thin layer of ice from the previous night) with no fall protection and not give a thought about what might happen if just one of their boots happened to slip and send them to the concrete below. I have seen people do amazing things that most people would consider not smart. Heck, I’ve done more than a few things in my life that most people would consider downright stupid. But the whole time I was doing those things I realized in the back of my head that I was making the choice to do those things. I knew better and did them anyway. Training would not have helped me in my youthful arrogance. OK, back to the cycles. My latest experience with OSHA has been somewhat different. It was due to a complaint against our company. So we had an OSHA representative come in and do an audit, run some tests, and file a report. In my responses and in my work to correct the items that they felt were inadequate I have come to realize that it is not my responsibility to make sure no one gets hurt. It is my responsibility to provide a safe work place. It is my responsibility to makes sure that employees know the hazards in the workplace that they are working. It is my responsibility to make sure the employees have the protective equipment to perform the work in such a way that they do not get hurt. If an employee has been trained on a certain piece of equipment (and by trained I mean shown the proper way to use the machine, told and/or shown the hazards associated with the machine, told what the machine is for) and a freak accident happens, it’s not the fault of the company. Now it happened on the job so workers comp kicks in but if the employee is using the machine for something other than its intended use or not wearing the PPE (personal protective equipment) that is required the fault falls on the employee. The company is not always the bad guy. Sometimes, people simply need to follow the rules and a repeatable safety record will follow. So hopefully the trend will continue to push people into thinking through their actions before something happens. And hopefully word will spread soon that every employee has a responsibility to “be careful”.

Life images of the Empire State Building

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Yesterday marked a first for me in my eleven years of working in the ASME world; a welder who stated he could pass a 6G weld test on 2” Schedule 80 carbon steel pipe using the GMAW welding process actually showed me he could do it. It’s amazing to me how many welders come into our shop boasting about their accomplishments and certifications only to completely discredit themselves when it comes time to perform an actual weld. A couple of years ago I had a welder come in and apply for work that had every welding process and material I could ever imagine welding at our facility listed on his resume. His resume looked fantastic! He even had lead man experience and design experience listed on the resume. When I was reading through his certifications and came across ASME 6G MIG certified I was ecstatic! So I asked the question, “Can you pass a 6G MIG test today”? “Of course I can” he boasted.  6G is a one test fits all approach to qualifying welders. If a welder can pass the 6G test he or she is qualified to weld in any position (Vertical, Horizontal, Flat, and Overhead). As such it’s a pretty tough test. The welder must tack weld two pieces of pipe together then secure the two pieces to a jig that holds the pipe to be welded 45 degrees off the horizontal. The welder cannot move the pipe once the welder has started. When in this position the welder is forced to weld vertically, flat, and overhead on the same piece of pipe. Now back to the welder… I set him up in the shop with a welder and some pipe and said “GO”! I went back to my office to let the man work in peace. Twenty minutes later he came through the office with all his tools extremely frustrated and simply said he was leaving. Shocked I went out to see what happened. I found his weld test stuffed way under the table he was working on. It looked HORRIBLE! It had to be (and still is) the worst coupon I had ever seen. Unbelievable! I chocked it up to the fact that no matter what the paper says the caliber of a welder can only be known through testing. The saying you get what you pay for certainly applies to welding. We at Precision Pipe & Vessel have had some extremely high end welding and if we let people who THINK they can weld anything without testing them in the door we will be closing the doors permanently all too soon. In today’s market place we have found that diversity is what works for keeping our doors open and our employees enjoy having a variety of work including the high end stainless steel and other alloy work come in the door. May I suggest if you are a buyer or a purchaser in today’s market that before you go with the least expensive bid you ask for a weld sample along with welder qualifications before you issue the purchase order. Sometimes the “you get what you pay for” can end up costing so much more then expected the cheapest manufacturer is not worth it.

As a follow up, this weld was just made by one of the welders in our shop:

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