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Innovator Introduces Ground Breaking Test Plug & Isolation Technology

Step into the future of test plugs and isolation technology with our video, “Innovator Introduces Ground Breaking Test Plug & Isolation Technology”. Discover how the industry has evolved from its humble beginnings, and learn about the revolutionary tools that are changing the game.

In this video, we’re going to be talking about test plugs and isolation technology. What I want you to get out of this is number one, the history of test plugs and the legacy tools that most of our industry is used to using. Understand a little bit about the sealing technology and the legacy types of tool configuration. And then we’re going to dive into new types of seals and a whole array of different types of isolation and test plugs that will help you solve far more of your isolation and testing challenges than you’ve ever had in the past. So let’s dive in and we’ll talk about test plugs. So, test plugs really became popular in the 1990s. And most people who were around in the 1990s will recognize these types of tools that either had a barrel with O-rings or a shaft with O-rings. And the whole point of this tool was to create an isolated area either to guard from LDLs that were upstream during the hot work process or to isolate a well in between the two seals to enable you to perform a hoop hide hydro test to prove that the weld had integrity. And so you’ve had a few different tools and you’re familiar with, as I said, the barrel-style tool and a shaft-style tool. Now, these were common tools that were available from a couple of different manufacturers and suppliers in the 1990s. One used an O-ring style tool, and the other effectively used a hockey puck, it was a slab of polyurethane. In both cases, these tools used compression to compress these rubber sealing elements to create an isolated area. Now, the basic premise in a compression tool is to compress that seal between two plates that induces a pressure in the rubber of 1.5 times the pressure you’re trying to isolate. So pushing that rubber O-ring between two plates so that its rubber pressure presses out against the pipe wall at a pressure of 1.5 times the hydro test. Now, this was revolutionary compared to having to do a full system hydro test. But this was the 1990s. And there was lots of other technology that became famous and popular in the 1990s as well, the PlayStation One, we had one of those in our house, the Sony Walkman, whether it was a cassette or the CD versions, the Palm Pilot, here’s an old favorite of mine, the text pager. And of course, the tried and true flip phone, the startech, flip phone, all of these were all 1990s technology that we all came to know and love if you were in the 1990s. But we’re now in the 21st century. And just like this technology, hydro testing and isolation technology have made leaps and bounds. And our options and our capabilities for performing these kinds of tests have also grown significantly. And the key message here in getting to know in this century, as in every other century, has been use the right tool. But if you only know that you have one tool available, then you try to use it in all applications. And with the advancements in isolation and test plug technology, you now have many more choices, just like you have many different configurations in your piping system, you now have choices and options in terms of the right tools for the kinds of applications that you’re going to be trying to repair and to pressure test or to isolate. And the way that I want you to think about the difference between what was available 30 years ago and what’s available today is like you see on the screen here right now. The old rusty wrench, just like the startech and the PlayStation One. We retired those tools, and we now have a whole wide array have tools for that space. And so we have the old wrench, or we have the test plug toolbox, a much wider array of choices for the way that you hydro test and the way that you isolate in all of your pressurized piping and all of your vessel modifications. And so as we move forward, we need to move past the old rusty wrench, and onto the test plug toolbox, a wide selection of different styles of isolation and test plug technology that can really drive cost effectiveness that can improve safety. And most of all, inside of your turnaround and on your piping projects will just dramatically improve productivity.

And so this test plug toolbox gives you a much wider selection of tools than has ever been available before. And we have spent the last 13, almost 14 years designing, procuring, and building a wide selection of tools. And the key point in the creation, the ideas, and this innovation is many of the tools that we offer today came from one source, one request, one need to solve a problem to take on a challenge. And it came from our clients asking us to solve challenges for them, new and different isolation and testing requirements. And the test plug toolbox was a natural evolution of all of those kinds of requests to solve problems. So why don’t we dive in and start talking about 21st-century isolation and test plan options that you have? So the first thing to think about is when we look at old technology, whether it was the O-ring or the hockey puck, the slab of polyurethane, those tools were primarily based on compression, squeezing that sealing element between two plates. But as you move forward and learn more about different types of tools, compression still comes into play. But there are also options and tools that will give you more flexibility that involve inflation and that involve pressure energization or self-energizing tools, or the combination of a couple of different types of tools. Let’s dive in and talk about the first of those tools. This is the internal well pestle or what we call the IW t. Now on first glance, it looks like an updated version of that 1990s tool with two seals and an annulus in between. But there are a couple of very significant differences and changes that will really create value for you as the user. Number one, you will notice is in this whole style of tools from the smallest read up to 12 inches, it is one centering nut. You do not have an entire set of bolts that you need to compress evenly to try to center the tool and to try to compress the seal evenly. It’s one central nut beyond 12 inches. It’s a hydraulic nut that replaces that one activation nut. So that’s the first simple easy thing it just it’s much faster and much more effective to center and to install. The second thing that is significantly different about this tool is it combines initial compression and self-energization. What is different about this tool is the inner Compression Plates are not part of the body of the tool; they actually float and have an inner O-ring so that as you introduce hydrostatic pressure into the test area, that hydrostatic test medium presses on those inner Compression Plates, pressure-energizing the seals. And so this tool is designed to be primarily a schedule-specific tool, but also medium and high pressure. So anything from a low-pressure 500-pound hydro test, right up to 5,000 and 6,000 pounds of hydrostatic pressure. This tool can get the job done. It installs quickly. It always gets a seal on high-pressure applications. And its ease of use means that with a simple one-page, five-step procedure, any of your people can use this tool quickly without any need for a special training class. It’s literally a tool and a simple process to accomplish low, medium, and high-pressure tests in one tool. There’s a couple of other unique advantages of the tool as well. The entire seal assembly because it sits on one central shaft. The seals are modular, meaning that for one tool body, two to three different pipe sizes are available and all the pipe schedules in between. Why is this valuable? Well, this tool can be interchanged with different pipe schedules or even different sizes to be able to capture a reducing fitting or to address and seal across a transition and still have that self-energizing nature and self-centering tool. So the IW t is just a fantastic tool, high-performance, easy to use low, medium, and high-pressure. What does that mean? It means you can get the job done quickly. You can self-perform a lot of these tests with a rental or a purchase tool. And it is just easy to install because of that self-centering nature of the IW t, just a fantastic tool that incorporates modularization, self-centering, and pressure energizing to give you just a really great high-performing tool compared to some of the technology from the past. The next tool in the test plug toolbox is the dual tool. Now, the dual tool uses completely different sealing technology. The dual tool is both a double block and bleed isolation tool. And it’s a low and medium-pressure hydrotesting tool. It can accomplish hydrotests up to around 1,000 to 1,250 psi, depending on the size of the tool. These tools come in as small as two inches and as large as 48 inches and everything in between. It can be either a schedule-specific tool or a multi-scheduled tool. So this tool can be used in 24-inch standard at extra strong 40 as one tool body to cover multiple sizes. And what’s the compromise? Well, as you have to cover more gap between the tool and the pipe wall, you do lose some of its pressure capabilities. And that’s why it’s a low and medium-pressure tool. But because it’s multi-schedule, you have a lot more flexibility around ovality, around pitting, around obstructions. It can equally be good for transition pieces. The unique way that this tool works is that each of the seals is independently activated so that you can pressurize the back seal and the front seal differently and have one seal on a different size of pipe, as an example. It also has a back pressure monitor and an annulus monitor. Now the unique thing about the dual tool because it is inflatable and you can see the various input ports on the front of the tool on the screen. This can be activated with an umbilical, meaning you can attach wheels to the dual tool and push it down the pipe 10, 15, 20 feet, potentially capture, isolate, and then capture a closure weld that you would normally have to sign off. So it gives you some more flexibility in terms of the use cases and pitting ovality. There’s a range of places where the dual tool is just a fantastic tool to have in your test plug toolbox.

The next tool is a variation on tradition. This is the innovator multi-range tool or what we call the MR tool. Now there’s nothing special or different about this tool compared to the tools of the 90s except one thing. We have designed this tool to be a multi-schedule tool and to have a much wider range on the seal itself. So instead of having to play around with different diameters of seals and different hardnesses of seals, the intention of this tool in the MR range is to do medium and low-pressure tests again, up to around 1,250 psi, depending on the size of the tool. And the intention here is to make it easier for you to do hydrostatic tests with a single tool that’s not schedule-specific. It’s a little bit harder to center the tool and to compress the tool because it is a compression tool. But it gives you one tool to get a seal on a wide range of pipe sizes and schedules. And we also have an inflatable version of this tool available, if that’s of interest to you. So if you’re doing a higher-pressure test, 1,500, 2,000 psi, and you want to capture some of that centering and some of that self-energizing nature, we have an inflatable option of the MR range that’s available to you as well. So a fantastic tool, again, a variation on a theme, but just a very broad and good tool for general hydrostatic testing.

The next tool in the test plug toolbox is the double block and bleed tool. Now the DBB tool is primarily an isolation tool. It does also have the capability to do low and medium-pressure hydro tests. But primarily, this is an isolation tool and it’s meant to be installed from the blind. So we’re used to installing and energizing from the inside, but we’ve designed a tool that you can push in and install from the blind. And that’s really useful because what it does is it allows you to install in a pipeline system without removing any components. You can install the double block and bleed tool on the blind and then back purge the pipeline system, clean the pipeline system, and energize the seals from the blind. And what that allows you to do is do isolation testing on the system to check for a very small leak rate. And it also allows you to do repairs without having to pull out a full length of pipeline. You can isolate and you can repair without having to take that pipeline out of service. So it’s a really great tool for a wide range of applications, particularly when you’re looking at situations where you have a limited amount of downtime or you need to do repairs without taking a whole system out of service. The DBB tool is a fantastic option for those types of situations.

The next tool in the toolbox is a tool that we call the POSITIVE-SEAL Tool, or PST. And this is a specialized tool that’s designed specifically for low-pressure, low-volume hydrostatic testing. So this is a tool that you can use in situations where you don’t have a lot of hydrostatic test medium available, but you still need to do a pressure test. And the PST tool is a perfect solution for that. It has a very low-pressure rating, typically around 50 psi, and it’s designed to provide a positive seal in situations where you have very low-pressure requirements. So if you’re working with small-diameter pipes or you have a limited volume of test medium, the PST tool can be a great option for you to perform those low-pressure hydro tests.

The final tool in the test plug toolbox that I want to talk about is the line stop tool. Now, the line stop tool is a different type of tool compared to the other tools we’ve discussed so far. This is a tool that allows you to perform a line stop operation. And a line stop is a method used to isolate a section of pipe so that you can perform modifications or repairs on that section of the pipe without having to shut down the entire system. So the line stop tool is typically used in situations where you have a critical pipeline system that cannot be shut down completely, or where shutting down the entire system would be too costly or disruptive. With the line stop tool, you can create a temporary bypass around the section of the pipe that you want to work on, and then you can isolate that section using the line stop tool. Once the isolation is in place, you can perform the necessary modifications or repairs while the rest of the system remains operational. The line stop tool is a specialized tool that requires careful planning and execution, but it can be a valuable tool for managing pipeline systems that require ongoing maintenance and repairs.

So those are some of the key tools in the test plug toolbox that provide you with a wide range of options for isolation and hydrostatic testing. Each tool has its own unique features and advantages, and the choice of tool will depend on the specific requirements of your project. But what’s clear is that these tools represent a significant advancement compared to the older technologies and methods that were used in the past. They offer improved performance, ease of use, and greater flexibility, allowing you to save time, improve safety, and enhance productivity in your turnaround and piping projects. So I encourage you to explore these tools further and see how they can benefit your operations.

Here, you can see larger examples of the nozzle test tool in action. You can imagine how using a nozzle test tool would be a highly productive and cost-effective approach compared to having to conduct a full pressure vessel hydro test or pressure test, depending on the test medium. When you start to understand the different seal configurations and methods for creating and installing a variety of isolation and testing approaches, your imagination can take off. Here’s an example of great innovation in using plug technology to accomplish something that no one had ever considered before. This is called the valve removal tool. It comes into play when you have a leaking or malfunctioning valve that needs to be replaced, but you cannot drain the upstream system. In such cases, we often perform temporary leak repairs to seal the valve. Then we can install the valve removal launching tube on the downstream side of the valve, allowing us to launch an isolation tool. In this case, a double inflatable tool for low-pressure applications is used, but any style of tool can be launched through the valve removal tool. Whether it’s a low-pressure, medium-pressure, or high-pressure tool with grips, they can all be inserted upstream of the valve, locked into place, effectively creating a new isolation point, enabling you to remove and replace the valve. So, this is the valve removal tool. It’s just one example of what’s possible when you consider the different tool configurations and sealing options offered by 21st-century isolation and testing technology.

Another variation of isolation is the Ergo purge bag. This tool is specifically designed for welding stainless steel when you need to use a shielding gas like argon. Instead of using rice paper dams and other remedial isolation methods to create a dam for your shielding gas, you can slide the Ergo purge bags into place, fill them with argon, and regulate the amount of gas between the two bags. This allows for quick installation and removal of isolations for shielding gas purposes.

The Ergo purge bag has several features that make it useful. It has a protective outer bag made of no pet Nomex with pull tabs for easy maneuvering through the line. The Flame Shield ends are designed to reflect and dissipate heat generated during the welding process. Additionally, the braided hose is covered with a Fire sleeve, which protects the rubber inside from heat or sparks. The combination of these features makes the Ergo purge bag a durable and efficient tool for enhancing productivity and cost-effectiveness in stainless steel welding applications.

Next, we have the thermal Argon bag. This purge bag system is designed to work while under preheat conditions. The tool incorporates insulating blankets and stand-away features that enable its use during the preheat phase, ensuring the purge bag can withstand elevated temperatures.

Hydro testing requires pressure, so it’s crucial to have the ability to quickly fill and bring the hydro test to high pressure. To address this, we have developed a skid that includes a high-flow filling pump system and a manifold. This self-contained system allows for rapid switching to a high-pressure pump system. We have mounted this skid on a trailer for simple applications, featuring a four-cubic storage tank for the test medium, which is all connected to the pumping skid. The skid also incorporates secondary containment and can be easily hitched to a truck for transportation to the testing location. With this setup, you can fill the system and bring up the pressure significantly faster than with manually assembled tools. We have approximately a dozen of these skids available in our rental fleet for clients who have scheduled system hydro tests in their projects.

In hydrostatic testing, a test header is essential. Innovator has engineered a series of test headers for both hydrostatic and pneumatic pressure tests. The process of engineering, registering the design, and manufacturing these test headers can be costly and time-consuming. However, Innovator has a stock of pre-designed and pre-registered test headers approved by ABS, ready for rental. We have about two dozen of these engineered test headers in our rental fleet, which can be used by our team for service jobs or rented by clients for their testing needs.

When it comes to your test plug toolbox, one of the simplest tools is often the one that can either cripple you or slow you down. I’m referring to blinds. Whether it’s a tapped blind flange, a paddle blind for isolating parts of your system, or an event ID paddle, these tools are critical for system hydrotests and blanking projects to ensure plant safety. When you don’t have these tools readily available, it can significantly impact costs and schedules. Over the last 10 years, Innovator has built up an extensive inventory of all three styles of blinds: tapped blind flanges, paddles, and vented paddles. We have approximately 80,000 of these tools in our yard, ready to be rented as part of our comprehensive test plug toolbox. If you need them, chances are we have them. Availability is key, and Innovator boasts the largest supply of blinds in the country.

In conclusion, I’ve presented a range of tools available in the test plug toolbox. We have made significant advancements in seal and tool designs, addressing various challenges faced by our clients. Our toolbox includes self-energizing and self-centering tools, nozzle test tools, flexible tools for maneuvering around elbows, inflatable isolation products like the ultra twins and Ergo purges, niche creative tools such as hub test tools, and even unconventional tools like the elbow grip plug and the lung bull. It’s worth noting that more than half of the tool concepts we have shown you originated from clients seeking help when they were told their needs couldn’t be met. If there’s one key message to take away from our discussion about the test plug toolbox, it’s this: When everyone else says it can’t be done, give us a call. We’ll likely figure it out. Thank you, everyone. I hope you found value in this summary of the range of tools available in the 21st century for isolation and test plugs. We are constantly building and designing, coming up with new solutions. Maybe your challenge will be the next one we address to help you achieve enhanced safety, cost-effectiveness, and productivity in your isolation and testing projects. Thank you very much for watching. Goodbye for now.

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