Turnarounds are a regular part of life in the refinery industry, contributing to the safe and effective functioning of the plant. Gas detection is especially important during this time, and organisations must decide whether to invest in buying equipment or renting it during these planned downtime periods.
What are Turnarounds?
A turnaround is a planned event for refineries, where a total or partial shutdown is performed. They are used for maintenance, overhaul and repair of facilities, as well as to inspect, test and replace materials and equipment as required.
Turnarounds often bring with them an increased need for gas detection, to avoid a wide range of hazards that arise.
What Safety Challenges are Present?
Refineries are inherently hazardous environments on a normal day, but during turnarounds, workers may enter areas that are not usually entered, and work for extended periods of time in places where personnel don’t usually stay. Due to this, it’s important to increase monitoring of existing safety considerations:
- Confined spaces: One of the most prevalent applications for portable gas monitoring, confined spaces are not only difficult to move around in, but can also create a hazardous gas environment much faster than a ventilated space can.
- Area gas releases: The chemicals, solvents and gasses used during turnaround maintenance can create a significant safety concern. While regular personnel are equipped with risk-appropriate PPE, release of toxic gases, fumes vapours, mist or dust can create an unexpected danger, which may even migrate past the perimeter into surrounding populations.
- Benzene: Commonly used in the production of fuels and other chemicals, benzene is a colourless, flammable liquid that is a known carcinogen.
- Turnaround Chaos: While not a hazard in itself, the many varied tasks that must be completed during a turnaround can be difficult to track whether in-house and external personnel are wearing the correct PPE, and are entering the correct areas.
- Hot work: Maintenance, repair and installation may all require some degree of hot work. This can cause fires and explosions from the ignition of flammable or combustible materials, or leaks of flammable gas into the workspace.
- Reliability of devices: Even in high-stress environments with vital maintenance or repair work being carried out, critical safety devices can break, leaving your workforce unknowingly exposed to hazards.
- Data collection: Even in the organised chaos of a turnaround, safety data must be correctly recorded, with inquiries incoming from contractors or other stakeholders at any time.
The importance for a fully integrated, comprehensive gas detection system is paramount, with that need increasing during a turnaround. So the question remains: should you buy gas detection equipment to meet the demand of turnaround, or should you rent?
Renting Gas Detectors
On the surface, renting the extra equipment that you need during short projects like turnarounds, outages and emergencies seems like a great option. You are able to quickly receive the equipment you need, and return it when it is no longer needed - reducing your overall costs. However, you should look carefully at the terms that rental companies offer, to see if it is right for your needs.
- Rental periods: Some rental companies start the rental period as soon as it leaves their premises, others when the equipment arrives at your facility. This is important to check to ensure that you have long enough to complete the project, without getting charged for keeping the equipment too long.
- Equipment included: Portable gas detectors may need chargers, docking stations and calibration gas. Check what extras you will receive to ensure the equipment is working and functional for the time you need it for.
- Accessories: Similar to receiving all equipment necessary, look into any accessories that may be available that could make your job faster, safer and more efficient.
- Sensor failure: Some companies will still charge you for sensors that fail, even if they failed during normal use.
- Pre-calibration: To be sure that gas detectors are ready to go as soon as you receive them, ask to see the certificates for each unit.
Buying Disposable Gas Detectors
Purchasing disposable gas detectors may seem like an attractive option for certain workplaces; they can be low-cost, and just what you need for a particular job. Before purchasing, it’s important to consider the initial cost, how many you need, whether they will last long enough to complete the job and the cost involved with disposing of them.
Buying Pre-Owned Gas Detectors
Pre-owned equipment can help you meet the demand for projects like turnaround without the costs of buying brand new. Ensure that any equipment you are planning to purchase has been put through a rigorous multi-point inspection to ensure all components perform as originally designed.
Buying New Gas Detectors
Another option is to expand your fleet of gas detectors by purchasing new equipment. You should consider the implications of maintenance costs and storage for spare parts when things do need replacing.
With this option, you should also consider the costs of training your team to maintain and service these new instruments, or the cost of hiring a third party to perform this service for you.
As with most things relating to gas detection, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to deciding whether to rent or buy equipment to meet a short term spike in demand. For more information or advice, speak to us through our contact page.