The Elite Scanning System
The first step in solving the 50 year old problem of fire tube failures.
What is MFL?
MFL stands for Magnetic Flux Leakage testing. It uses a combination of magnets and sensors to determine defects in carbon steel by measuring resistance as the scanner passes over the steel wall. MFL technology has existed for about 15 years and is commonly used to scan tank floors and down hole pipe testing. Elite Energy Services harnessed this robust technology and worked with vendors around the world to build an application specifically designed for fire tube scanning.
What is unique about the scanner?
The Elite Scanning System is purpose-built for the inspection of fire tubes – the first of its kind. Our sensors and magnets are curved specifically to the inside of a fire tube, allowing us to efficiently determine the levels of corrosion and areas of weakness. The scanning heads are custom made for multiple I.D. (inside diameter) fire tubes, and this makes the system extremely accurate (+/- 5%).
Here is a short video demonstrating the steps of the Elite Scanning System. You can find the following portions at these times:
-0:00 Introduction and MFL Explanation
-1:25 Field Demo
-4:09 Report and Database Demo
How do we use magnets to measure the corrosion in a fire tube?
When magnets pass over the metal, the force of the magnets create resistance in the carbon steel. When there is corrosion in the steel, it causes defects, and the metal in the affected area becomes thinner. This causes less resistance when the magnets pass over. The sensors measure the resistance – and the software translates that information into a numerical format, which is then calculated to determine the remaining wall thickness. Our software produces an image, giving our customers a visual representation of the orientation and location of corrosion on the fire tube. These readings are instantaneous and allow our operators to quickly diagnose the corrosion damage on the fire tube.
The Scanning Process
Elite's scanning process is fast, effective, simple and most of all SAFE.
Step #1: Remove the Burner
The burner assembly is removed after the fuel gas lines have been secured and rendered safe. The arrestor and burner are removed and set to the side. A visual inspection of the inside of the tube is completed. If any issues are found, they are noted and later addressed by the producers. If a heat shield is present, the team will remove the shield to ensure safe working conditions.
Step #2: Prepare and Clean Fire Tube
Prepare and Clean Fire Tube:
The fire tube must be free from debris – such as soot, scale and rust. This is accomplished with specially designed brushes that loosen the material so it can be removed effectively. We use compressed air to facilitate the preparation process. Once the tube has been cleaned, the scanning process can begin.
Step #3: Inspect and Scan Fire Tube
The scanner head is deployed into the fire tube, starting in the 12 o’clock position. The scanner head is pushed forward, traveling over the steel tube and sending data to the computer. The information is then translated by the software and a digital image is produced. The operator and producer can then determine the depth and location of the corrosion. This process is repeated until the entire fire tube has been scanned. We know INSTANTLY the condition of the fire tube. If the tube has significant damage (75%+ or as otherwise instructed), a call is immediately placed to the producer for necessary interventions.
Step #4: Reassemble Burner
Once the data has been collected and interpreted, the reassembly process begins. If a heat shield was used, it is replaced and re-positioned. The burner assembly is reinstalled and secured to the fire tube flange. If the burner was lit before the disassembly process began, it is then re-lit and the arrestors are placed and secured.
"When I first heard about the Elite Scanning System, I jokingly said, what is it, a magic stick? I couldn't believe that someone came up with a system to scan a fire tube without having to remove the tube. I was even more shocked by how fast and accurate the system is."
"The color-coded system makes my job easier. I know at a glance what I've got to deal with first thing in the morning. It also helps us plan work during our morning meeting."
The reporting process was developed to be easy to read, straight forward, and a document that could be used by oil producers to answer the simple question: Is the tube “good or bad”? We wanted to ensure the information in the report could be universally understood, so we have developed a color-coded system that allows the level of severity to be quickly identified.
The color GREEN, for example, indicates a tube that can be addressed at a later date.
A YELLOW/ORANGE tube can be delayed and/or monitored more closely.
The color RED, however, designates a tube needing expedited action (or 75%+ of wall loss).
Although we have a standard process in place, we are happy to adapt to meet our customer's needs.
If we detect a RED, the producer is notified immediately and can inform other company personnel to the priority of that particular tube.
The report also uses positions on a clock (12 o’clock, 4 o’clock, etc.) to describe the location of the corrosion. A root cause analysis can be made to determine why the area is having corrosion issues.
The report also shows a visual representation of the scanned image. The producer can then see the size and depth of corrosion without having to understand the MFL technology. The reports are easily stored and designed to provide quick and accurate data that address the simple question: “Is this tube good or bad?”
Actual Report Samples
The red highlights are added to show the problem areas on this specific fire tube. This specific tube is considered ORANGE condition.
"The database that Elite Energy developed is easy to use. I just wish our company's computer system was this simple."
Data management is key to any efficient inspection program. Our data management system was developed with the producer in mind. We know our customers want something quick, easy to interpret, and requiring little scrutiny. We used these parameters to develop our Fire Tube System.
We have color-coded the results so that you can easily determine which tubes are a priority. Red’s require quick action and green indicates the fire tube has minimal corrosion damage. Each morning, producers receive an email with a table listing wells scanned the day before. The table shows the percentage of wall loss and the corresponding priority indicating color (RED, ORANGE, YELLOW, GREEN). Producers can quickly determine if and when to address any fire tube issues. Producers can easily view these alerts on their phone or while at their computer.
Once the producer determines when they wish to rescan the tube (usually in months), the email is sent back to Elite for processing. Elite will then move the scan data to the appropriate place in the calendar and the report will be stored for future viewing.
The database is kept on a secure web-based platform. Only authorized personnel have access to their respective companies. Using this type of platform enables the reports to be archived, and easily accessed from multiple devices. Access the system from the office or out in the field.
These are some of our most asked questions about the scanner.
Inspection Tool Breakdown
The tool is engineered in a very specific and tailor-made way to work as proficiently and effectively as possible.