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Ep009: Industrial Leak Repair with Chris Coombs

In this episode of the Industrial Innovators Podcast, Chris Coombs and Don Cooper discuss the important aspects of leak repair in industrial facilities. They cover topics such as the causes of leaks, the significance of data collection, the importance of safety, and the Pay Once Promise. With their extensive experience and expertise, Chris and Don provide valuable insights into the effective and safe management of leaks in various industries.

Key Takeaways

1. Understanding the root cause of leaks is essential for effective repair and prevention. It’s not just about fixing the leak; it’s about addressing the underlying issue.

2. Data collection plays a crucial role in designing the right solution for leak repair. Accurate information on vibration, thermal cycling, chemistry, metallurgy, and defect nature is vital.

3. A collaborative approach with clients is crucial for successful leak repair. Clear communication, sharing history, providing pictures, and accurate documentation enhance the planning and execution process.

4. Safety is a top priority throughout the entire leak repair process. Implementing safety measures, incorporating leading indicators, and fostering a strong safety culture are key to achieving a perfect safety record.

5. The innovative Pay Once Promise demonstrates accountability and ownership. By standing behind their service and products, the team at Innovator ensures that if a leak reoccurs, they will return to fix it without additional cost, provided clients follow the recommended process.

By implementing these key takeaways, industrial facilities can effectively manage leaks, enhance safety, and prevent future incidents.

Wyatt McPherson 0:00

This podcast is created and produced by Innovator. If you’re looking to cut back or eliminate hot work on your next job or for all of your industrial services needs, visit innovator.ca.

Hello, and welcome to the Industrial Innovators Podcast hosted by Founder and CEO of Innovator, Don Cooper. My name is Wyatt McPherson, I produce this show, and this week, we have a very special guest, the General Manager of Innovator, Chris Coombs, on to talk with Don all about industrial leak repair. It is a very technical, very good conversation between Don and Chris that I do believe you will all gain much insight and maybe even learn a thing or two about industrial leak repair. During, as always, you can learn more or get in contact with Don or Chris anytime at innovator.ca. Now with all of that said, let’s get on with the show.

Don Cooper 0:54

Good day, everyone. This is Don Cooper, and this is the Industrial Innovators Podcast. Today, I’ve got one of our second in command, and one of Innovator’s own, Chris Coombs, with us today. And we’re going to be talking about leak repair services. Welcome, Chris. And oh, how are you doing today?

Chris Coombs 1:17

I am doing wonderful. It is a beautiful day. And we’re starting to see phase two of the reopening of the economy and society starting. I think today I saw announcements that swimming pools and movie theaters are starting to open up, and I think even restaurants are going to soon, if not right away, be at full capacity. So some Norton some next steps in normalcy seem to be coming back to the world.

Don Cooper 1:52

Yeah, definitely. I was looking at that phase two and selfishly, they’ve got arenas and rec centers in there. Now I’m not ready to lace up the skates and COVID a bunch of sweaty men on my on that rec hockey team yet. I think that might be jumping the gun a little bit. But it’s nice to see that sort of stuff coming back. I do miss it. You know, that’s a big part of my unwinding time in the evenings. And just it does get back to a sense of normal. So I’m looking forward to it. Throughout the entire Coronavirus episode, I’ve been timestamping our podcast to keep people who listen to this, you know, a year or two or 10 years down the road, can contextualize in the timeframe. So we’re recording this one on June 10. So it’s been about three months since this has all happened, and our start-up to happen. And now moving back to some sense of new normal. So June 10, 2020. I think around March 11 is when schools and whatnot in Canada started to shut down. So it’s been March, April, May, and June. So about 90 days. So Chris, let’s talk about leak repair. Excellent. Well, so we’re talking about onstream leak repair services. And this is industrial onstream leak repair. Most of our audience will understand that, but you know, when you do a Google search on leak repair, most of the time, it shows up talking about how to fix your plumbing inside your house. And more often than not, this time of year, if I type in leak repair in Google, it tells me how to fix a swimming pool. So this is something very, very different. And why don’t you just explain to our audience what is Leak Repair Services? Like, what is it we’re talking about?

Chris Coombs 4:03

Absolutely. So like you said, leak repair can have a variety of meanings. So it’s best to try and frame it or explain it from the industrial perspective, the service instance that Innovator offers, and that is online leak repair, the stopping or suppressing of leaks in any type of process, piping pressurized vessel, pressurized piping. So the stoppage or suppression of the leak to just allow the continuation of that piece of equipment to operate. And that’s the main goal of online leak repair. An interesting thought on leak repair, when you think about the word repair, it carries a different definition in our industry, in the construction industry when we say we’re going to repair something, it has an alternative meaning where there’s a regulatory process to follow. And there are certain things that must be accomplished. We use leak repair very commonly, but in most cases, we’re not repairing a leak, repairing the leak is more of a construction activity, more of a permanent solution. When we talk about leak repair, we’re stopping and suppressing. And I think that’s the main difference that may get people confused when they hear the term online leak repair versus what actually happens.

Don Cooper 5:33

Right, you know, we’re not fixing it permanently, we’re effectively suppressing. A lot of clients will call it leak containment, you know, a leak containment device or an LCD is a common client term for how they refer to it. But it, you know, these types of methods, and there’s a variety of methods, some of them are engineered leak containment devices, and some of them are what we would call out of the truck repairs, all of which are designed to suppress the leak, to allow them to contain, you know, keep the pressure in the process in the pipe and to help the client keep operating, right?

Chris Coombs 6:19

Exactly. And, you know, when I think about, I use the term leak repair predominantly, that’s the term I understand that it’s suppression and containment, but I choose to use the term leak repair. And we’re not necessarily addressing the source of the leak. And that’s why I’ll highlight that the pinhole in your piping that caused the leak in the first place is still there. We haven’t repaired that pinhole with most online Leak Repair Services. There are services that we could, that’s still there, we’ve just contained that leak, eliminated any hazards, loss of production, and allowed our clients to continue their operation.

Don Cooper 7:04

So tell me a little bit about the history. Where did leak repair come from? What’s the history of this in terms of pressurized systems?

Chris Coombs 7:14

You know, my experience with leak repair, you know, has only been, you know, we’ll say in the 15-year range. So when I really think about where it came from, like I put on my research hat and I do some digging, and it was actually, it actually came from the invention of the steam engine. And which, when you think about it, makes total sense because a large process or a process stream that we quite often encounter is steam. And with the invention of the steam engine, and, you know, we’ve improved how we can build pressure piping, how we can build these components over the last hundreds over the last century. So you can imagine in the inception, in the beginning, there were multiple leaks, there were way more leaks than there are now. And they needed a way to keep those engines operating, loss of steam and loss of pressure, loss of effectiveness. So leak repair was developed with the kind of the introduction of the steam engine.

Don Cooper 8:24

It’s interesting because if you think about it, you know, if you do any history about our modern society, and the industrial revolution is what created our modern society, the start of the industrial modern society was the steam engine. It was the beginning of industrialization.

Chris Coombs 8:47

And then immediately, you know, as different types of process facilities were constructed, you know, in that industrial revolution, immediately the need for suppressing leaks and continued operation, I’m sure it was evident on startup day one that need arose, and leak repair, I would have to say just like, you know, any other great innovation was born out of necessity.

Don Cooper 9:16

You know, I did some research on this a number of years ago, and I stumbled across obviously talked about the steam engine. There’s another element of things that we do in leak repair that actually predates steam. And I wouldn’t say it’s a, it’s not a leak suppression, pressure suppression method, but the stop gap that we refer to as the stop gap, we use it to stop a leak if we’re doing composite wrap, we often will stop or slow down a leak before we try to install other leak containment devices. But the stop gap comes from the age of sailing ships.

Chris Coombs 10:06

Okay, so more like patching the hole on the, I guess you have a hole or a sail, I’m guessing one or the other?

Don Cooper 10:13

No, no, on wooden ships, they had gaps in the wood, and they had to use bitumen and cord to stop gap the leaks that happen between the wood. And they would pound cord and an oil-soaked product in between each piece of oak to create those gaps, you know, to stop the leak in those gaps. And literally, the term stop gap comes from the age of the great sailing ships.

Chris Coombs 10:50

That’s very interesting. We don’t need to go down this road because we’ve got a much more sophisticated, you know, engineered back process these days. But the hammering of wooden pins or dowels is probably something that you’ve seen or heard of, even in our, you know, petrochemical industry.

Don Cooper 11:15

Yeah, I mean, you know, I’ve been involved in leak repair since 1994. That makes me old. But, you know, in those days, clients, you know, leak repair was still, I would say used but not common. And maintenance workers inside most industrial facilities had to use the tools that they had to mitigate leaks as best as they could. And when some of those homemade mitigation tools didn’t work, then we would get called in with more sophisticated solutions. I’ve found rubber hoses tied around leaks and wooden pegs and screws and pieces of sheet metal. You know, a thing that I’ve seen a lot was, you take a… this, I haven’t seen this in a lot of years, but I saw it a lot in the early ’90s, was you would take an insulator, like a sheet metal insulator, and they would build a sheet metal box around something and then they would try to fill it with some sort of epoxy or resin to mitigate the leak somehow. I saw a lot of those methods, then a lot of those methods I’ve seen no longer play out, particularly in the pulp and paper industries where the budgets compared to some oil and gas facilities were not as robust. And they were being a little more prudent on costs. They had a lot more creative homemade methods, and I’ve kind of seen a lot of it. So, but you know, I think over time we’ve been living through the evolution of leak repair as an art and into science, even over the last five or 10 years with regulatory bodies putting their own processes and controls in place to kind of put a box around it, to use a pun, to put a box around how we’re going to approach leak repair. So I think it’s constantly evolving, and we’re still involved in regulatory processes to constantly improve how we’re going to approach leak repairs. Well, so I think it’s always evolving. You know, when we’re talking about clients and leak repair, what are their applications that are best suited for liquid?

Chris Coombs 13:59

There’s definitely a wide range of applications. But to really narrow it in, before we start talking about different piping systems, different fittings, and things like that in a facility, you’re really targeting areas that do not have built-in isolation or redundancy in isolation. If you have the ability to quickly isolate a leaking component, some facilities have replacement fittings on their shelf, and they can isolate, jump in, swap out a valve, put a new one back on, and you can do that in a couple of hours if it’s a bolted connection. So the same valve that we may have to perform leak repair on might not be because of the valve construction. It has to do with how the piping system was designed. Does it have insulation? Sometimes it’s the isolation valve itself that is supposed to be the thing preventing, you know, helping them get through a leak that we’re actually fixing. So when we talk about the best applications, we look at situations where the client doesn’t have the ability to isolate the leak. So now they have something that’s uncontained. That could be a pinhole or a loss in pressure piping. Very often, we see valve leaks, steam leaks on the valve and packing. That’s something that’s very common. We see very often, and any fittings in general, threaded fittings have a tendency to leak. Welded fittings may have porosity or different defects built into the weld. So they’re definitely any type of piping system or fitting is subjected to leak repair. The ones that are best suited for our clients are ones that they don’t have the ability to isolate themselves, and they need that containment to maintain production.

Don Cooper 16:07

You know, there’s a reason, I think, I mean, it’s a cost reason why clients don’t have isolation everywhere. I’ve often seen when a client builds a small demonstration or pilot plant, they’ll build in a lot more isolating capability because it’s a smaller footprint, it’s a lot less piping, and they’ll have a lot of redundancies built-in. And then when they commercialize the plant and they scale it up, they start removing a lot of capital-intensive assets like gate valves everywhere. That’ll allow them a lot more ability to isolate everywhere. So when you go into an upgrade or a new refinery, and we’ve seen in the last 20 years, several upgraders and one new refinery built in Western Canada in the last 10 to 15 years, 20 years, I guess we had this boom of upgrader builds. And what always seems to happen as soon as they start the facility up, they’ve spent billions of dollars to get it built, but they’ve had to strip tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars of redundancies out of their capital plan to be able to get project sanction. And as they start, in the first year, when they start up, they start to realize they are missing isolations, they’re springing leaks, and they face having to take a multibillion-dollar asset and shut it down to fix all this stuff. And that’s obviously not prudent in terms of trying to get a return on their investment, right?

Chris Coombs 17:56

Absolutely.

Don Cooper 17:58

But some of the biggest jobs I’ve done in terms of leak mitigation and or isolation mitigation have been in the first year of startup of facilities, brand new equipment. But you know, things go and design things happen. And they get pressure system differences, metallurgical things that they didn’t expect. And things erode and corrode. We had a client just last year, a brand new mine, and the particular chemistry of their water system was incompatible with their weld material. And they were having welds eaten away very quickly, totally unexpected in design. But they had to keep the place running, right?

Chris Coombs 18:45

Absolutely. That’s a good example of a newer facility. And, you know, something that we’ll I’m sure we’ll talk about a little later. That is leak repair. There are welds that are springing leaks or welds that they’ve identified that are going to leak. It’s not always about having a leak. Sometimes our clients are calling us in because they have a predictive and preventive maintenance program that allows them to identify components that will leak, and then we can perform leak repair on those as well. So, you know, at Innovator, we have what we call service lines, and we offer online leak repair as a service line. And we offer composite repair as a service line. In general, composite repairs are a leak repair in a broader sense. So in that case, you’re describing the leak repair method that we employed or deployed was composite wrap to help them through that. You know, there are definitely different ways to look at leak repair when you look at it from a high level.

Don Cooper 19:51

Right. So if customers are not utilizing leak repair or not leveraging it as much as they could, how are they addressing it? So what’s their traditional approach to leak mitigation?

Chris Coombs 20:05

I’ve seen a lot of different things. So we’ll try to go through some examples. The first thing that typically happens is they try it themselves. And that’s usually what we will see is you’ll see an attempt at some off-the-shelf… I even hesitate to use composite… an item, sometimes referred to as tape. There’ll be some off-the-shelf tape or composite product that they’ll install. They have their own kind of DIY, stopgaps that they’ll install. And success in those cases is leak mitigation to a certain extent. It never seems to be 100%. I see a lot of facilities when they’re doing it on their own focus on diverting the leak. So they mitigate the safety risk, they get that process stream going somewhere where they can control it, but they’re still losing it. So they’re still losing that the cost of that product leaking through their facility. They’re still losing it. So, I mean, I think they have three options. If they’re not leveraging an experienced contractor, they really have three options. They’re doing it themselves. And we can tell you, you know, there’s a lot of experience that’s required. The competency for a successful online leak repair technician is as high as any service line that we offer in the specialty maintenance industry. So when you’re performing it yourself with somebody that doesn’t necessarily have the experience, there’s a lot of risk there, and usually, it would end up in a leak continuing to leak. They have the “Do Nothing” factor where they kind of just let a leak be. And then I see a lot of times they’ll try to divert the leak and some of those sheet metal enclosures that you refer to, I see those remaining open atmosphere so they don’t feel pressure. So they didn’t worry about the engineering calculations. And they just divert that to a drain or to a safe location, maybe to a drum or something like that, depending on the chemical, and continue their operations. That’s typically what I see when they’re not using a leak repair service.

Don Cooper 22:25

I’ll touch on two things that come to mind because you mentioned our competency system. And there’s a huge difference between someone who had a training event in whatever that was, a training event. “Hey, we’re going to have a three-day leak repair class for our client.” There’s a big difference in that and competency in terms of all of the different procedures, all of the different leak methods, the complexity of a simple one-inch 150-pound utility leak versus a 900-pound steam leak on a tee that has a pinhole. I mean, leak repair is not no different than welding. Leak repair is not one thing. Leak repair is, you know, by my quick estimation, looking at our competency program, there are more than 40 competencies required for leak repair. And yet, a lot of our clients think that, and I think the industry who’s outside of being involved in leak repair, don’t understand the complexities of it. We use a competency system, as you know. And one of the things we did, you know, we’re always looking for more competent leak repair people. So we created a competency survey on leak repair about a year or so ago, looking for applicants and asking them some basic questions about their leak repair competency. And we had over 200 people apply, saying that they had leak repair competency. And most of them, and these were mainly pipefitters in the industry who’ve got many years of experience working on the systems that we’re repairing, but they’re working on them from a different perspective. And when I looked through all the applicants, I’ve seen it before, was one of the things. I’ve seen, “Oh, I’ve done lots of leak repair because I’ve tucked up flanges and I’ve stopped leaks because the bolts were loose or I’ve done leak repair because we’ve installed lots of different ways to divert the leaks.” I think one of the things that I think is important is that, you know, that really told me that our industry, a lot of our customer base, really doesn’t know what it takes to do effective leak repair. Because they, you know, when you ask 200 people who are working directly on those systems, they think that leak repair is what we’re describing as a lot of those homemade methods. And that’s not what we’re talking about. No. The other example that comes to mind is in the heavy oil district. You have a lot of these oil collection facilities, small batteries. And a number of years ago, I was called into the Medicine Hat area, and we had five different oil batteries that had, they said they had a lot of leaks, and they needed us to fix some of these oil heaters. And I show up there, and they have these sort of six to eight-foot-high oil heaters, oval flanges that are low pressure because they’re just heating oil to as heavy oil as it comes out of the ground. And the flanges themselves were like an inch or less thick and very small bolts. And they were using double jacketed gaskets. And basically, these oval heater flanges were just leaking like sips, like there was oil pouring out of them. And their leak mitigation process was a very intricate set of docks and little collection channels that were feeding into drums. Like literally, these little, I wouldn’t say little, these were professionally made sheet metal channels that were all over the place, collecting the oil that was dripping and feeding into barrels. They were trying to keep the product. But it was a mess. And this oil is not like cool, it’s just like it would burn you. It wasn’t at the ignition temperature. But it was quite a sight to see the way that some clients will approach that. In that case, we didn’t need to do a leak repair or leak containment system. They had the ability to shut down. And what we did is we did a leak prevention program where we checked the flatness of the flanges and we machined them. We milled those flanges with large milling machines. And then we used a different gasket design. We designed better bolting spring washers, Belleville-style washers, and then we torqued all these flanges to accommodate. And the spring washers were to accommodate the thermal cycling of these heaters. Voilà, no more leaks. And no more need for the trays and the barrels and the buckets. And the mess, right? So, I mean, those are a product and inconvenience and sort of housekeeping issues. But sometimes our clients are facing leaks that are much more serious.

Chris Coombs 28:04

Absolutely. So before we move on to another kind of point on, we talked about the operator performing leak repair on their own. And this is something that we’ve touched on before. We have some YouTube videos on it that exists. And I talked about how that actually can hinder. So there are two things to think about here. You know, when there is a failed leak repair attempt, and then because we see it now, we have to come in and look at ways to mitigate that leak, we’re often having to design around a solution that was put in place. So, you know, increasing costs, increasing the complexity of that repair. We also understand that sometimes it’s just timing-wise, and maybe there’s a safety risk, and the operator has to go out and do something, and we get that. So we understand there are those situations, but more often than not, what we see, you know, an earlier call would save money for our operators rather than that Do-It-Yourself-style fix.

Don Cooper 29:21

Yeah, I mean, some of the most complicated and expensive repairs for clients that we have done have been having to design a much larger leak containment device to encapsulate all of the things they’ve already tried. Because, you know, a standard practice in leak repairs is we’re not going to remove previous attempts because we don’t know what’s underneath there. We don’t… They may have started off with a pinhole, and that pinhole is now invisible, and we can’t see that it has grown, and we can’t see that there might even be a crack or some other worsening of the condition of that system. And so, you know, definitely when we’re faced with having to show up and deal with a leak that already has homemade repairs on top of it, it can make the more permanent… And I wouldn’t say that’s the wrong word, but the engineered repair more complex and more costly. Yeah. Let’s talk about steam systems. Like, what are some of the most common processes that we’re dealing with? And, you know, how do we approach them?

Chris Coombs 30:37

Processes, sorry, they like different processes or different like Steam processes or just kind of in general? It wasn’t clear.

Don Cooper 30:46

Let’s just talk about the processes that we’re often working on that are some of the most common applications for clients.

Chris Coombs 30:55

Absolutely. So some of our more common and basic applications. And we refer to it as an online valve packing injection. So most times, these are steam condensate valves, and the packing over time wears. So through the operation of the valve, these could be shut-off valves, so just stroking the valve, wears on the packing, and over time, they develop a leak. These leaks are not really inside the pressure boundary of the valve. They’re not… They never receive full pressure on these leaks, but they do require mitigation. It’s a safety hazard for the operator to go out and operate these valves when steam is leaking. And there’s a cost to leaking steam. So one of the more common, run-of-the-mill, easy activities we do is we show up to a facility and use an injection valve. So an engineered injection fitting would contain a CRN through the province that we’re doing the work in, and we would drill into the packing gland area into the housing of the valve and inject a sealant. We would choose a sealant compatible with the product and specifically the temperature when we’re dealing with steam. In most cases, on the valve packing, we use non-curing components, so it would allow the operation of the valve so you’d have that flexibility in the product. It would… It’s able to form a seal referred to as a non-thermal setting component. So it allows for the operation of the valve and not crack when things change inside. So it’s a very common application for leak repair. Outside of that, we really focus on enclosures. And an enclosure can be installed on any pressure piping, B31.1, B31.3, and in any facility, for that matter, it in any province. And the leaks that we see a lot of times are pinhole leaks, and all leaks are very common on the extrados of a 7D elbow or on the weld of a fitting. Those are some very common areas to develop leaks, in the body of the tee. And we design and build enclosures. The new term in the regulatory world is an engineered pressure enclosure and EP2. So we would measure and design and register an enclosure for that application. Once it’s approved, we would construct it and then install it. So injecting that enclosure with the appropriate sealant, the appropriate compound would suppress that leak and allow for continued operation to the next shutdown. So those are the two most common areas of leak repair. And when I say we’re performing that on steam, we’re performing it on condensate leaks, probably the majority. And then we get into, definitely we get into hydrocarbon gases and liquids. There’s really no end to what we see. The most common would be steam condensate, and then hydrocarbons.

Don Cooper 34:09

You mentioned non-thermal setting injections into valves. I mean, the way that I describe that to clients, you know, in non-technical terms but so they can understand their ability to use that valve in the future potentially is we’re effectively injecting a compressible, for lack of a better word, a ground-up version of packing that allows us to repack that valve with a compressible packing that will seal that valve and allow the operator to continue to use it.

Chris Coombs 34:49

Absolutely, yeah. The packing, the original packing, you know, I’m not a valve expert when it comes to those things, but the original packing, you know, will be constructed of graphite, maybe there could be silicone in there. There are different components in the valve packing. The fibers of the valve packing or using a sealant, they’re mixed with different resins, and you know, to address different temperatures and allow us to inject them. So, kind of change the chemistry or more so the physical condition of the packing into an injectable paste-type substance versus having it in a, you know, a more hardened, compressible form like a rope that we see. But it is the same component. Right.

Don Cooper 35:37

Now, earlier, you talked about the issue that clients have where they have an isolation valve, and we’re having to repair the isolation valve, and you mentioned the valve packing. But if it’s a gate valve, and it’s the isolation valve, just talk a little bit about a gate valve injection, injecting the gate.

Chris Coombs 35:57

So injecting the gate yeah, there’s two ways. When we look at injecting the gate, there’s, there’s really two things we can do there’s, we could look at an upstream line block or a seed injection. So both require, when we look at a gate valve, if your gate is is stuck in the open position, we’re not going to have much success there, that there’s just too much too much volume of water or sorry, process flowing through that gate that we’re going to be able to mitigate it. So we look at situations where the gate is closed, but not functioning properly, maybe there was some debris that that maybe the gate got banned, you know, there could be a number of different reasons. So we’re looking at a situation where the gate is approximately an eighth of an inch away from closing. In those situations, we can inject a compound, either upstream of the gate, we can do that on the hub of the fitting on the gate valve, sometimes there’s there’s extra material, depending on the style. So we can inject that in the body of the gate valve, or even upstream into the piping using an injection fitting. So we can install an injection fitting on the piping, similar to what you would see in in a hot tap scenario, and inject sealant and allow the process to carry that sealant to the gate. Once the sealant hits the gate, it’s able to withstand that 1/8 gap and isolate the process. That’s one way to do it. The other way to do it is to direct this is to inject the sealant directly into the gate. So we typically do that and the process you do it will change depending on the size of the valve. But you would inject you would install an injector at 12 o’clock, or sorry, at six o’clock, at three o’clock and at nine o’clock. And you would inject sealant into the seat area from the six o’clock position. And then you would monitor the sealant. And when it starts to remove or when it starts to come out from the this, this three and a nine position, then you would start to close those and you would you would know that then your seat is full. And you would monitor isolation that way. So those are two ways that we can aid the isolation of the system, when you have a partially closed valve just not focusing 100%

Don Cooper 38:24

Sometimes those two mitigations can be coupled up with other other services like depending on the on the process stream, like a freeze plug to, to help the client get an isolation.

Chris Coombs 38:39

Absolutely. And that’s a very common instance of when we would do that freeze line freezing is an excellent use of a cold work isolation. There’s the other plan for today when we’re talking about line freezing and cold work. But what that what when I say cold work, we’re eliminating the need to do a hot tap in line stop by using by using line freezing and then eliminating the need for welding. So with a line freeze, we need zero flow, you essentially you need a full we need full you need your pipe to be full of water. And for that not to be flowing. Installing an external freeze jacket on the piping and flowing nitrogen through that reducing the temperature of the process you will eventually create a block in the system by means of a nice plug. And one of the you know one of the biggest failures always plugs is flowing water and if your isolation valve is passing just a little then you will not achieve that iceberg and that’s where that seed injection or upstream line block really comes in.

Don Cooper 39:50

You know I remember years ago doing a an eight inch freeze on a bitumen line now obviously you can’t free Is bitumen in the traditional way of creating a nice plug, but you can create a solid slug of tar, that will allow for you to create an isolation. And the client guaranteed us that there was no open bypass valves there was we had zero flow. And we were, we were pumping liquid nitrogen for 36 hours. And they kept saying, no, just keep going, we need to, you know, we gotta we got it, we got to give this, we gotta give this our best shot, we got to give this our best shot. And an operator, one of the plant operators who had been off shift for 48 hours came on shift out on night shift. And he came over check what was going on in this part of his plan? And I said to him, I said, Look, everyone tells me that there are no small bypasses anywhere, can you think of anywhere where there might be an open valve that is causing us to not get a freeze? And he said, I know exactly where there’s an open valve. And I know exactly where there’s an open valve, and let lock over here with me now. And let’s let’s check it out, I bet you any money that there was like a it was like a one inch bypass that was a couple 100 meters away on this line. And it was causing flow. And we he and I went over there, he turned the valve and closed it and put a lock on it and lock that valve. And I kid you not 36 minutes later, we had frost lines across the entire the entire freeze. And we were quickly then able to confirm an isolation and, and, and do a downstream valve change out. And but we had burned through two tankers of nitrogen. Yeah. And so you know, it’s sometimes when you’re when you’re doing these kinds of jobs, you got to get the, the, the the plant operator who’s been there for 15 or 20 years and just knows every nook and cranny of their process lines, so that they can figure out yeah, that’s, that’s where that’s where we can fix this and, and achieve what we’re trying to achieve. So I’ve got a lot of stories like that with with freeze plugs that that, you know, we’re just not taking and then instantly took as soon as an experienced plant operator to find that one place where they had a bypass.

Chris Coombs 42:27

Absolutely. And people don’t realize I know this isn’t the line freeze that topic today. But people don’t realize how little flow can interrupt or prevent a freeze. And kind of have to think about it to kind of frame it a little bit. Sometimes it’s just convection current. Sometimes it’s just a difference in temperature, causing, you know, causing that internal flow, convection flow across the plug that will prevent a freeze from forming doesn’t take much.

Don Cooper 43:00

Yeah, I got another story about a convection flow that was too close to a tee that they wouldn’t listen to me. And they wanted me to pump nitrogen for four days. And I finally had to go talk to the maintenance manager and say, Look, I’ll just give you a discount that line stop on this thing like like, let’s just do a line stop on it next week. And we’ll we’ll we’ll stop wasting your money. And but, you know, but I’ve heard I’ve had had hundreds of conversations over the years, where I say is there zero flow? And they’ll go yes, there’s next to no flow. I said no, no, no, I didn’t I didn’t say next to no flow. I need confirmation. There’s no flow. If we’re going to get a freeze if not, we’re just going to be literally turning liquid nitrogen into gaseous nitrogen and spent and and helping the atmosphere replenish its its nitrogen because it isn’t going to do anything other than burn a lot of time and money. But anyway, let’s we’ll have a different conversation and a deep dive on freeze plugs in another another episode. But the one in the interesting thing about all of these technologies, whether it’s its varieties of leak repair, or injecting valves, and isolating valves, or creating freeze plugs or hot taps is all of these solutions can be blended together to help the client accomplish the leak mitigation or the isolation and the permanent change out of of a valve or of a of a piping component in a variety of different ways. If you if you have that if you have all those tools in your wheelhouse, then you can prevent you can you can present your client with more optimized solutions than if you’re just a leak repair provider or you’re just a hot tap provider. And there are there are some great great companies out there that do just leak repair or do just line stopping and they do great work. But a lot of the time our our clients requirements are more complex than having In only needing only one technology to solve what they’re trying to accomplish, right? Absolutely. Let’s talk a little bit about what clients are normally asking you, when you’re approaching leak repair when they are wanting to learn about leak repair, or they’re considering a leak repair up location, this sort of client frequently asked questions. So, you know, first off, what’s the primary hazards? What are the what are the hazards around leak repair?

Chris Coombs 45:29

And you know, that is the most common question and sidetrack for a little bit. And if I, if you might need to pull me back on here, but the very, you know, the thing that the last right away is, is it safe, and we get individuals and certain facilities who are not experienced with leak repair. And this is where when we talked previously talked about the competency a little bit, it’s more than the activity, it’s much more than performing the activity, you can train somebody on how to install an enclosure. But it’s the awareness of all the hazards and the potential hazards, the ones that are not seeing that really make this a safe activity. So you know, the primary hazards we encounter, we’re working on live systems. And not only are we working on live systems, we’re working on live systems that have failed in some capacity. It has a thinning wall, and now that piping is compromised, or there is an act of leak. And that actively could contain, you know, it could contain low pressure, low temperature, steam, and condensate, sometimes it could contain potable water, and those things are not that big of a risk. Sometimes it can contain something like 900 pounds steam you mentioned previously, or some hazardous chemicals. So the biggest hazards that we run into is you know, the pressurized system, and then the process that’s actually leaking. So our approach to those things, very, very simple line of fire, you know, never standing directly in front of a leak, always having the appropriate PPE for the situation, which goes back to job planning goes back to Job Hazard Analysis, and performing having the experience to perform those field level hazard assessments on the application. Specifically on the application, not in general on on leak repair, but specifically on this application, where you can determine that I’m going to encounter this type of process. It’s at this pressure, this temperature. And these are the mitigations that I have in place to my PPE and other engineering controls, that we can mitigate these risks. So definitely, the biggest question we get is, is it safe? And we actually had a kind of a quick story. And everyone’s entitled to their opinion. And you know this and sometimes we agree with it, sometimes we don’t we had somebody give us a poor rating on a customer satisfaction survey. Because the deemed us is working on safe. And when we question because that, you know, that’s something that’s very, very near and dear to our heart, something that we take very seriously. So we investigate it. And the response was, No, no, I was very impressed with how your technicians managed to execute their work in that environment. I just think leak repair in itself is unsafe. So it wasn’t that we were being unsafe, the nature of the work we’re performing was unsafe. And that it’s viewed that way by a lot of operators. They, once they see a leak, they don’t want to touch it, and a lot of them will back away from it. So you know, kind of at the risk of repeating myself, we’ve got pressurized systems, active leaks, temperature is a big concern. Flammable, flammable service is a big concern, and maybe we can touch on that later. And or, you know, potentially hazardous chemicals in the line. And those are definitely the main things that we encounter and the top question that we received.

Don Cooper 49:14

I mean, the kinds of planning, the risk hazard analysis, the procedures, the the levels of PPE, personal protective equipment that we incorporate into a job plan to perform Leak Repair are heroic, and you know, while an operator might deem you know, a component that doesn’t leak, it is safe and a component that is leaking is unsafe and therefore working on it is unsafe. It sort of in general terms, you know, where the worthy we’re not dealing with fires, but we are we are using similar levels of safety and control that, you know, people in the firefighting industry use in terms of air and heat suits and cooling vests and respirators and a whole variety of and that’s those are just the PPE. Even before stepping back from that the very intricate procedures we use to mitigate risk are, are at a, at a much higher level than when you’re installing or component, the components. Like if you’re a pipe fitter or Boiler Maker and you’re installing those components, what we’re doing is much more intricate, much more intricate.

Chris Coombs 50:43

And it all starts with the hazard assessment. And you know, we do different levels of hazard assessment, we do a job hazard assessment, before we mobilize, you know, we collect all the data, we understand that application fully, you know, not a stone left unturned when it comes to understanding the application we’re going in. So we develop an in house job in house we develop before we mobilize a job hazard assessment with the help of a HSE advisor. And then when we get to the job site, it’s another level of hazard assessment when we actually assess the physical conditions. And it a lot of work goes into making sure that our team can do this safely.

Don Cooper 51:26

You know, and the risks that are involved in Leak Repair are often deceiving. From the layperson point of view, they might think that a steam leak is riskier than say, working on a boiler feedwater or on a blind flange versus, you know, a tee. But you know, you know, some of the some of the the biggest failures, catastrophic failures that I’ve heard about in the industry have been in poor risk mitigation around dealing with leaking flanges on boiler feedwater, which is not as hot as steam, or on blind flanges were just just talk about a couple of those kinds of repairs for a minute and why those are potentially more need more more procedural analysis and planning than other types of leaks. Because I, when I think about doing leak mitigation on a blind flange, or in boiler feedwater, my spidey senses instantly go up. And now it’s a critical job.

Chris Coombs 52:40

Yeah, and some of the deceiving part. If we’re, I think we’re on the same page here when we talk about steam and boiler feedwater, different stages in the process. So when we have boiler feedwater, in a lot of cases, there are chemicals added to treat the boiler. So there’s a lot of things happening inside the boiler in terms of creating the rate of steam or in terms of boiler maintenance, preventive maintenance on your boiler. There are a lot of chemical additives that go into the boiler feedwater. And they’re not always mentioned on the Data Request form that we would use. So yes, when we’re dealing with boiler feedwater, there’s not a breakdown of the boiler treatment process or the water treatment process involved. It is very common to see a different grade of stud in a system that is involved with boiler feedwater to help counteract that. So you might have a B7M stud instead of your standard B7, or maybe you can use some stainless steel. But what happens with blind flanges and other components, maybe it’s a valve that has a top hat style…

Don Cooper 54:03

a bonnet about it.

Chris Coombs 54:05

Why did I blank on that one? Anyway, in situations where you think you might have just a standard leak, what could be happening is that you could be losing the integrity of your studs. And that’s something that you need to be able to recognize immediately. When you start injecting against a blind, you’re actually putting tensile stress on those studs. If there’s something, what happens is stress corrosion cracking, and stress corrosion cracking occurs when the sour service of the boiler feedwater or the chemical used to treat it affects the studs. When we inject sealant, the sealant puts axial force because it spreads out between two components. So we inject sealant into a gap, and that sealant moves through. In some cases, it moves through a narrow gap of an eighth of an inch or a sixteenth of an inch between two pieces of steel. That causes the bonnet to lift, and then it’s up to the studs to hold it in place, which is their job. But if they’ve been compromised, stress corrosion cracking can occur when tensile stress is applied to the studs, and then you have a rupture. So what may seem like a small leak in boiler feedwater may have a lot more cause for concern than your standard steam leak, even if that steam leak is at 609 pounds of steam.

Don Cooper 55:48

And as our general manager and technical director at Innovator, you’re also overseeing these additional procedures that we often look at when we’re talking about situations like bonnet spline flanges and boiler feedwater flanges. We intuitively and automatically look for stud issues as part of our planning and engineering. So what are the ways we incorporate controls to approach those leaks? Because maybe I don’t want to scare our audience and say, “Well, you just can’t fix those things because of the risk.” We have procedures and other engineering controls in place specifically for those applications, right?

Chris Coombs 56:32

Absolutely. Like everything at Innovator, it starts with understanding the problem. So it begins with data collection. We’ve developed a very specific form for jointed connections or jointed bolts. We have a critical task form for these types of applications, whether it’s for a bonnet or a blind flange. We have a very specific form that takes you through a process. First, you need to know how long the component has been in service, how long it has been leaking. Then we get into potentially performing NDE (non-destructive examination) on the studs. You can perform UT (ultrasonic testing) on the studs to determine if there’s any circumferential cracking. You might not be able to pick up any longitudinal cracking with that UT, but you can definitely identify any circumferential cracking or defects in the studs. These are two things that an operator could do before Innovator would mobilize. Once we understand the stud integrity, there are two options we can consider. For flanges that have eight bolts or more, we can perform a hot bolt-out procedure where we exchange the bolts one at a time with new bolts that have confirmed integrity. We can then button that back up and perform the leak repair, if the repair is even required. Chances are the leak repair may be needed due to a compromised gasket or stud. By using the new studs, you might have fixed the leak. So that’s one option. The other option, and the most common and safest one, is to go with an engineered strong back or C clamps. “Strong back” and “C clamps” are interchangeable terms depending on the application. We evaluate the separating force, the force that the studs were designed to withstand, and develop a solid strong back to take up that force. This way, we can perform the leak repair without any risk of the flange or bonnet separating from the component and becoming a projectile.

Don Cooper 58:50

And just so we don’t confuse any of our listeners who might also use homemade methods, we’re not talking about going to Home Hardware and buying a C clamp to clamp the flange. We’re talking about an engineered evaluation of the loads and an engineered solution.

Chris Coombs 59:07

Absolutely. We carefully consider the separating force, looking at it from a design pressure perspective. We evaluate the pressure the system was designed for and the potential effects of the components seeing that full design pressure, even though they typically operate at a reduced pressure. We also take into account the separating force caused by the sealant. When we inject the sealant, it adds extra stress to the flange. We incorporate and calculate that stress and design a custom strong back scenario. The number of strong backs can be 2, 4, 6, 8, or more, depending on the size of the flanges and the required force to mitigate separation. It’s a very customized approach. The strong backs themselves are not pressure-containing components, so you might not always see them with the CRN (Canadian Registration Number). However, in many cases, we register them as part of the overall repair, so the enclosure and the strong backs are all registered together.

Don Cooper 1:00:14

Awesome. Let’s talk about flammable leaks. We’ve talked a lot about STEAM, but many of our clients also deal with toxic and flammable services that can leak. How do we perform hot work in these flammable leak situations? What are we doing differently to mitigate risks there?

Chris Coombs 1:00:40

Sure, so I can talk about a lot of the traditional ways to mitigate flammability. We’ve taken a different stance when it comes to flammability. So this is an online leak repair, this is just in general. And the best thing to do when you know you have a flammable service and how to mitigate that is to eliminate the flammable part, eliminate the spark, right? So we focus on not necessarily performing leak repair, and one of the methods that we can get into is a purge. You can perform leak repair and have a nitrogen or steam purge directly on the area where you’re working to suppress any type of spark that could develop. But that’s not where we start, we start with, “Hey, let’s not do the hot work at all.” Let’s talk about a different method. Let’s talk about composite repair, let’s talk about friction forge bonding, let’s talk about add-on gate valve—all things that you’ve covered in previous episodes of your podcast. But that’s where we want to start, we don’t want to immediately jump into how do we mitigate this final bulwark. Let’s talk about a situation where we don’t even have to consider it, that’s where I would start. When we do have to perform the repair on flammable services, there are a couple of different things that you can do. Obviously, it starts with a detailed job hazard assessment, as we talked about before. And then we get into some things like non-sparking tools, brass components, brass painting chisels. We also focus on grounding our components if we’re drilling into a pressure system to install an injector. We ground our components to help mitigate any sparking issues. And from there, it’s a lot about setup and process, having that steam purge, and at the end, if you can’t eliminate it, then you always plan for worst-case scenarios. You have very intricate emergency plans and routes in place for when you’re performing that type of work. But very rarely would we ever get there.

Don Cooper 1:03:03

What about clients needing to shut down or reduce pressures for us to do what we’re talking about here?

Chris Coombs 1:03:11

That’s a good one, and that’s actually a common question. For most repair activities, when we’re specifically talking about online leak repair activities, not only do you not have to shut down, but we don’t want you to shut down. We want to seal the leak at your operating pressure. The pressure that you’re going to operate at is the pressure we want to seal it at. And that gives us the confidence that the leak has been addressed appropriately. If we mobilize to a facility and there’s no leak, and they say, “Yeah, we shut it down for you. We just want you to install your enclosure and inject it,” then we lose that indication of when it’s been effective. We have different parameters to follow in terms of injection pressure, amount of sealant, sealant extrusion, where and how it’s coming out, and how fast it’s coming out. There’s a lot of indicators in the process that tell you when an enclosure is full. But the best indicator is mitigating the leak and stopping it at that pressure. If we stop a leak at 10 psi and the next day the client goes to 100 psi, maybe that leak repair wasn’t sufficient for 100 psi, it was only sufficient for 10 psi. So the best way for us to seal a leak and then have the confidence that it’s the right solution is to do it at full pressure.

Don Cooper 1:04:40

Makes sense to me. I mean, anytime I’ve been involved and the customer said, “Hey, we’ve reduced pressure, we’ve shut down the leak,” I instantly tell them, “I’m probably going to have to come back.” Yeah, I mean, I can do all the installation. But in order to guarantee you that this leak has stopped, you’re going to have to bring the pressure back up, get me up to the temperature and pressure so I can know that the leak has stopped. Almost every time that I’ve been in that situation, I’ve had to come back and revisit the leak when it’s in full operation. Because, you know, the customer’s perspective is that they want to reduce the temperature and pressure to make it easier or less hazardous or more convenient for us. But our goal is to fix the leak, not just fix the component work as you put it earlier. We’re not repairing the leaking source, we’re suppressing the leak. And so we need to be able to see the leak and work with it in its full capacity so that we can mitigate it appropriately for the client.

Chris Coombs 1:06:02

Absolutely. Absolutely.

Don Cooper 1:06:06

What about sealants? So obviously, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of different process streams and metal chemistries and varieties of process streams that the clients are facing. So do we have one type of sealant that we pump into everything? Or is there a whole other realm there?

Chris Coombs 1:06:27

I wish, wouldn’t that be something?

Don Cooper 1:06:31

Yeah, maybe in the future we’ll get some magical nanobots sealant that can fix anything, right?

Chris Coombs 1:06:38

Yeah, you never know. Now, there are different types of sealants. The sealant product range is very vast, with numerous manufacturers manufacturing different types and ranges of sealants. The ones that we stock and typically see fall into a couple of different categories. I mentioned earlier, there are thermal setting components and non-thermal setting components. So basically, you have a curing sealant that requires a full cure to become a hardened product. It starts off soft and then, with temperature, it sets and becomes firm, creating a seal. So it requires temperature in the line to create a seal. Some of those products will cure at 250 degrees Fahrenheit, all the way up to 678 degrees Fahrenheit or even higher. We also have other products like the valve packings that I mentioned earlier, which are non-thermal setting. These types of products use graphite fibers and can withstand temperatures up to 1200 degrees Fahrenheit and higher with the right application. For steam sealants, you would consider both thermal setting and non-thermal setting options. In this case, chemical compatibility is not a major concern. The main driving factors in selecting a sealant are the application and the temperature. Then there’s another category to consider, which is chemicals. There are specific lines of sealants created to specifically handle hydrocarbons and their interaction with sealants. These are designed as both thermal setting and non-thermal setting sealants, typically in a lower temperature range. There are also sealants available for strong acids and solvents, although they are not as common. So for us, we typically target a temperature range and then have a range of hydrocarbon seals. Another type to consider is rubber sealants used for chemical compatibility. Additionally, for scenarios involving steam, water, or line block, we use rubber sealants. These sealants can cure to a consistency similar to a hockey puck. That’s the main range we look at for sealants.

Don Cooper 1:09:30

But we do have some specialties, and our clients have unique situations as well. So what about alkali units and the corrosive assets? Hydrofluoric acid is the one that comes to mind. Are we capable of working in such units?

Chris Coombs 1:09:47

Absolutely. There’s a full periodic table-style sealant comparison that you can run, listing every chemical encountered in a processing facility. You can easily go through a compatibility chart and select the sealant specifically for your chemical and temperature. Working in high acid environments, such as alkali units, is not new to us. Those seals are usually ordered for specific cases but definitely something that we can handle.

Don Cooper 1:10:27

Another area, I mean, many of our oil and gas clients have a need for hydrogen, nitrogen, and a variety of other feed and supporting feedstocks. Often, these facilities are operated by other operators who are running hydrogen reform or nitrogen and hydrogen plants in conjunction or in partnership. So what about cryogenics?

Chris Coombs 1:11:01

There are definitely cryogenic sealants available. You can perform leak repair in a cryogenic environment. Obviously, you need to consider the material’s minimum design metal temperature (MDMT) and various design considerations that differ from non-cryogenic environments. But there are cryogenic sealants specifically made for such conditions. Additionally, I didn’t touch on this earlier, but it’s also relevant to our industry and business—nuclear-grade sealants. These sealants have undergone additional testing and scrutiny to be pre-selected and approved for nuclear facilities. So we’ve covered a wide range of sealants, including cryogenic, nuclear, high temperature, low temperature, and those compatible with different chemicals and hydrocarbons.

Don Cooper 1:11:54

Well, we’ve covered oil and gas, cryogenics, and nuclear. We perform leak repair inside nuclear power plants regularly for clients in the nuclear space. One area we didn’t touch on, but I want to make sure we cover for some of our audience, is pulp and paper. They have all those corrosive liquors. What can we do in that space?

Chris Coombs 1:12:19

Working in pulp and paper is very similar to how we work in alkali units. We have sealants for that purpose, although I don’t know the exact product number we use for some of those seals. The process works in the same way. If we’re dealing with a stripping chemical used in the industry, we typically ask our clients about the composition of their process stream. We may encounter black liquor, white liquor, green liquor, or other common terms used in the pulp and paper industry. We have experience with these liquors and know what to do. In some cases, we ask our owners or operators if they have an MSDS or an SDS for that particular component. With that safety data sheet, we can specifically match a sealant to do the job.

Don Cooper 1:13:20

Perfect. One thing I heard throughout this entire conversation was the importance of analysis and engineering evaluation. How important is it for us to get data from our clients?

Chris Coombs 1:13:36

It’s the most important thing, and this is where it really makes a big difference. So leak repair in itself is about understanding the root cause. We’re not fixing the leak, we’re not just understanding why something leaked because we’re going to fix that component. We’re understanding why it leaked so we can put a solution together to prevent it from leaking in the future. If it leaked because of vibration, we need to know that, so we use a non-curing sealant that can withstand some of that vibration and not crack once it hardens. So collecting data is all about understanding the real problem. If we get a call to perform leak repair, someone saying, “Hey, I want you to come out and inject this,” and we blindly go out and inject it, we’re not understanding what their real situation is. We’re not understanding the right solution for the application. We’re just doing what somebody told us to do. By collecting the right data upfront, we can ensure the solution, first and foremost, by collecting the right data, we can ensure the safety of our workers and the safety of the workers in that facility, because we know the solution is the right solution for that application.

Don Cooper 1:15:01

These are specific custom procedures for each component because every single leak is different. Vibration, thermal cycling, chemistry, metallurgy, and the nature of the defect, we need highly collaborative clients. In an ideal situation, they should provide us with 100% of the information we need. We have a data sheet that we use to collect information, and it’s important to fill out that data sheet accurately. Ideally, the client should provide us with information about the history of the leak, share pictures, provide isometric drawings and data sheets from the facility’s design, and answer any additional questions we may have. Accuracy in providing information is crucial because we don’t want to rely on guesswork when it comes to factors such as metallurgy, temperature, pressure, and the process stream. Having accurate data allows our team to design the right solution for the client’s needs.

Chris Coombs 1:16:39

Absolutely. And I’m going to speak about the team here. I’m very confident in saying that we have the best leak repair team. When we send that team out to execute leak repair, if we’re not setting them up with the right solution, it doesn’t matter how good they are. If they install an enclosure that’s not designed for that application, it will leak, regardless of the individual’s competency or skill level.

Don Cooper 1:17:24

Speaking of our team, I want to mention something I’m really proud of. Everything we talked about here is about safety. We have a perfect safety record from a TRIR (Total Recordable Incident Rate) perspective. We haven’t had any lost time incidents in the company, and our TRIR has consistently been at 0.0. Our team, including the leak repair team, fully participates in our safety program. They are dedicated to capturing all safety aspects, such as leading measures, FLRA (Field Level Risk Assessments), and toolbox talks, in every activity they perform. We have proven that activities can be performed safely with the right planning and a safety culture that everyone buys into. It’s a tremendous achievement to consistently perform leak repairs in a high-risk environment for eight years without incidents, and it’s something we are extremely proud of.

Chris Coombs 1:19:31

Our safety results are perfect. They’re not great, good, or even close to perfect. They are perfect. We have an excellent safety record from a TRIR perspective, with zero lost time incidents for eight years now. All our teams, including the leak repair team, fully participate in our safety program without any exceptions. We ensure that all leading measures, such as BOBOs (Behavioral Observations), FLRAs, and toolbox talks, are incorporated into every activity we do, including leak repair. We have shown that it is possible to perform dangerous leak repairs safely and consistently over the years by maintaining a strong safety culture. This achievement is something we take great pride in.

Don Cooper 1:21:28

I want to clarify something. We haven’t had a lost time incident in eight years, and we have never had a lost time incident in the company. What we haven’t had in any of those eight years is any recordable injuries. We have maintained a consistent 0.0 recordable injury rate, and the last time we had a recordable injury was on May 12, 2012. We are proud of our safety culture and the measures we have implemented, such as employee dashboards with leading indicators, to drive behavior and increase awareness and personal accountability. Our state-of-the-art system, which utilizes digital technology and real-time reporting, allows us and every individual to see everything that’s happening in real time. Safety is the aspect of our company that I am most proud of, as we have never caused harm to anyone and have established a long track record of doing all the right things to ensure the safety of our team and clients.

Chris Coombs 1:24:46

So, first off, it’s important to note that leaks can sometimes reoccur despite our best efforts and best plans. There are reasons why they reoccur, such as during startup and shutdown. When a pressurized system, which was successfully suppressing a leak at 500 psi, is shut down and then started up again 24 hours later in the middle of winter, there is significant expansion and contraction that can cause cracks or gaps in the sealant. In such cases, the enclosure and piping may not expand and contract at the same rate, leading to a leak. However, one great thing about leak repair is that leaks can always be suppressed again. If a leak occurs within an enclosure, we can return and suppress it again without any issue. We have spent a lot of time analyzing and focusing on how we can be better than our competitors in the industry. We emphasize extensive planning for repairs and have utmost confidence in the enclosures we design when working collaboratively with our clients. We offer a “Pay Once Promise” to our clients who have followed our process, provided accurate information, and been collaborative throughout the project. If the leak reoccurs, we will fix it for free. We stand behind our service and products, although there may be exceptions in cases where external factors are beyond our control, such as changes in process streams or chemicals used. In general, if we follow our process with a collaborative client, we offer the commitment that they only need to pay for the service once, and we will come back to re-inject for free.

Don Cooper 1:27:07

The Pay Once Promise is not about guaranteeing that a leak won’t reoccur; it’s about guaranteeing that the customer won’t have to pay again. This commercial commitment changes the mindset of our planning process because we have a stake in the game. We partner with our clients to suppress leaks, and we take equal ownership and accountability for the leak suppression. We agree on the work process and the commercial terms. Once we say the job is done and the leak is suppressed, if it reoccurs, we come back at our expense to fix it. It’s about creating a higher level of personal accountability and mindset shift within our team, from engineers to technicians. Our goal is to achieve a suppressed leak, and the Pay Once Promise reinforces this goal by putting commercial responsibility on the line. It drives us to do things right throughout the entire process, ensuring we provide the best solution for our clients.

Chris Coombs 1:28:05

Thank you for flipping the script on me, Don. To reach us, there are multiple options. You can find Innovator represented on various social media platforms. We have offices in Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Sarnia, and Hamilton, Ontario, but we provide leak repair services throughout the entire country. We have dedicated sources for individuals or prospective clients to reach out to us. Additionally, we have a toll-free number, 855-436-4666, and a website, innovatorind.com, where you can contact us. You can also find us on LinkedIn, where you can message any of us directly. We operate 24/7, even on holidays, because leaks can happen at any time.

Wyatt McPherson 1:30:13

And there you have it. I truly hope you enjoyed this episode of the Industrial Innovators Podcast. Please remember to leave a like, rating, and subscribe so you never miss an episode. More episodes with Chris Coombs will be coming out soon, so stay tuned. Thank you for listening, and we’ll see you next time.

Chris Coombs 1:30:33

Thank you very much.

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