Monthly Archives: May 2020

Boiler & Property Consulting, LLC Ranked #1 by Jurisdiction Online for 30 Straight Months

This month, May 2020, marks 30 consecutive months that Boiler & Property Consulting, a Buford, GA jurisdictional boiler inspection firm operating in conjunction with XL Insurance America (XLIA), has been rated #1 by Jurisdiction Online for maintaining the lowest percentage of overdue objects.

Jurisdiction Online’s monthly report ranks users on their percentage of overdue objects. BPC has maintained the lowest percentage of overdues yet again and stayed at the top of the list for the past 30 months.

Here’s what Venus Newton, President of Boiler & Property Consulting, has to say regarding this accomplishment:

“Our team continues to amaze and impress me daily. During this pandemic, our Jurisdictional Team hung on to the #1 position for managing our overdues for the 30th straight month.  That’s 2.5 years at #1. Wow!  I couldn’t be prouder of how well we are dealing with all the challenges of 2020, while still hitting milestones worth recognition.”

Since its beginning, BPC has quickly grown to be one of the top boiler inspection companies in the United States. The company has inspectors nationwide and services all industries including power generation, basic metals, chemical, steel and pulp & paper.

The company has used Jurisdiction Online for the past five years. Jurisdiction Online supports regulatory code enforcement workflows, risk management workflows and jurisdictional accounting needs associated with regulatory activities. Its products are used by agencies in 31 states, more than 90 local jurisdictions and multiple Fortune 500 and private sector companies, including major insurers involved in the boiler and pressure vessel (BPV) market.

Ultrasound Inspection vs. Infrared (Thermographic) Scanning of Electrical Equipment

Can ultrasound inspection be used in lieu of infrared scanning to detect faults in electrical equipment? The simple answer is no: An ultrasound inspection is not a substitute for infrared scanning. Rather, it is a complementary technology.

 

At voltages of 1000 or greater, an ultrasound inspection may be used to detect corona, partial discharge, tracking, arcing, and mechanical vibrations on:

  • Switchgears
  • Load interrupter switches 
  • Breakers 
  • Transformers 
  • Motor control centers 
  • Terminal transition cabinets
  • Overhead transmission lines
  • Switchyards

 

There are many benefits to utilizing ultrasound technology: 

  1. Ultrasound instruments are versatile and easy to use. The equipment is relatively inexpensive and plant personnel could perform the inspection in between the interval of infrared scans to see if any emissions are heard.  
  2. The ultrasound inspections can be performed without opening the cabinets or enclosures.  
  3. They are highly effective in detecting certain failures like corona, tracking, and arcing.
  4. It is an excellent method to detect faults within an enclosure prior to conducting infrared scanning to confirm the severity of the defect detected by the sound intensity.

 

There are two disadvantages to utilizing ultrasound inspection: 

  1. Ultrasound inspection can only be used at 1000 volts and greater; air becomes a conductor only at higher voltage ranges, where the air surrounding a connection becomes ionized. 
    • Ultrasound scanning is not suitable for low voltages. For corona and partial discharge to occur, the voltages have to be greater than 1000V. The greater the voltage, the better the results for presence of corona and partial discharge.
  2. Although ultrasound inspection is quite effective in detecting certain failures like corona, tracking, and arcing, it is unable to detect the condition of a conductor – which infrared scanning can do. 

 

USAGE

Infrared scanning detects heat that is generated by current flow or amperage-related problems that are often caused by loose connections. So, infrared detects the condition of the conductor.

 

To perform a proper infrared (thermographic) scan, the electrical equipment should be energized and (preferably) at full operating load. Due to high voltage levels, there are significant safety concerns in opening the locked doors of the switchgear/enclosures to perform the scanning unless the switchgear has infrared windows installed on the covers/doors. 

 

To minimize the safety risk, an ultrasound inspection may be performed on both enclosed and open access electrical equipment. The technology utilizes sound waves that would be blocked by a solid surface. With an ultrasound inspection, the instrument is simply pointed at the equipment to be inspected. 

 

To utilize ultrasound technology during an inspection, take the following steps: 

  1. Position the ultrasound instrument at the access, through a capped hole or the removal of a few bolts, to achieve the best results. 
  2. Then, listen. If tracking or corona is present, one will hear a buzzing noise similar to static on a radio. 
    1. Ionization disturbs the air molecules at high frequency, thus producing the buzzing sound. The ultrasound instrument detects the high frequency noise produced by this effect and translates it into the audible ranges; the intensity is analyzed by utilizing headphones as well as observing the strength of the signal on a meter.  
    2. Technicians performing the ultrasound inspection are trained to differentiate the noise from the normal 60-cycle hum or other constant mechanical noises. 

 

CONCLUSION

Infrared scanning has been used for years to detect defects in electrical equipment that, if not detected quickly, could result in catastrophic damage. The infrared method may be utilized in all applications and can provide detail to the severity of the problem. 

 

In recent years, ultrasound instruments have been added to inspections. The ultrasound method is advantageous from a safety perspective where the voltages are high – 1000 volts or greater. 

 

Ultrasound inspection should not be considered an alternative to infrared scanning; instead, using both technologies in conjunction generates better results and better predicts fault within the equipment.

The Black Swan

The phrase “black swan” was first used by the Romans in the 2nd century to describe an extremely rare occurrence – something that seemed impossible. (At the time, only white swans were believed to be in existence, hence calling something a “black swan” implied improbability.) 

Since then, philosophers and economists have used the term to describe an event that has three characteristics: 

  1. It takes (most) people by surprise.
  2. It has a major effect on society.
  3. The event seems predictable in hindsight. 

Other historical events that fall into this category include the rise of the internet, the personal computer, Word War I, the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the 9/11 attacks and the financial crash of 2008. 

As we look back at the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, it’s possible that it will fall into the “black swan” category. Our lives certainly have been disrupted in many ways; only time will tell how our society is changed permanently. 

So if we accept the notion that black swan events will happen, even if we don’t know what form it will take or when it will happen, how do we best prepare for them?  Here are some of the ways that BPC has prepared over the past few years to weather the unpredictable: 

First, we have worked closely with our insurance broker to make sure we have the right types and the right amounts of insurance. We recently added a cyber-liability policy due to the increasing likelihood of cyber-attacks.

Second, we’ve ensured BPC has an adequate rainy day fund. We call it our ‘business emergency savings account’ and this fund will carry us for several months with no revenue and quite a bit longer with partial revenue. This emergency fund has helped us stay focused on our long term objectives since we have the cash to weather a downturn. 

Third, BPC is looking for opportunities to serve existing and future customers in new and innovative ways. Our customers appreciate and rely on our deeply talented team for technical and consulting expertise. To better serve them, we are looking at new technologies to help us both work and communicate more effectively than ever before. 

Lastly, we are continuing to grow our team with the right people in the right places. We also value your feedback to help us improve. If you have an idea for doing something better, let us or your supervisor know. Your ideas keep us moving in the right direction.  

A final word of thanks to each of you who are helping BPC push through these challenging months. Our reputation is continuing to spread throughout the marketplace. We are optimistic that there are some great times ahead.

President’s Notes – May 2020

Wow, what a year!  

We’ve experienced some drastic highs and lows in a very short time period. January, February and through mid-March, we were going full steam ahead. All units were producing at capacity and we had plenty of work inventory to keep everything going. Everything came to a crashing halt as the COVID-19 Pandemic hit and our operating landscape changed overnight.  States were issuing shelter-in-place orders, travel was restricted, and many of our customers either closed or severely limited access to their facilities.  

Faced with all of these daunting challenges, the BPC team did what all great teams do: we adjusted and adapted to all of these challenges. We kept on working, so we could meet our commitments to our customers and keep them safe and in compliance. 

I’m happy to report that we were able to get through April without touching our reserves.  Now in May, with loosened travel and shelter-in place-restrictions, our customers are starting to re-open their facilities.  

As we move into June and the rest of the year,  our work will ramp up quickly as our customers want delayed inspections to be completed immediately.  Doing so will again require our BPC team to adjust and adapt to meet this increased demand.  I know that with a team as adaptable and professional as BPC’s, we will continue to meet any and all challenges head-on, finding new ways to meet and exceed our client’s expectations in the delivery of our best-in-class services.  

Our team continues to amaze and impress me daily. During this pandemic, our Jurisdictional Team hung on to the #1 position for managing our overdues for the 30th straight month.  That’s 2.5 years at #1. Wow!  I couldn’t be prouder of how well we are dealing with all the challenges of 2020, while still hitting milestones worth recognition.

Thank you for your dedication.

Duc Exercitum – “Lead The Way” Part II

Our operational creed “Leading the Way” for 2020 is proving to be true this quarter with the events of COVID-19. Maintaining our #1 Jurisdiction Online ranking for fewest percentage of overdue objects among all AIA’s and our flexibility in accommodating COVID-19 operating procedures, we have certainly “Lead the Way” in our industry.  When other AIA’s parked their staff, our staff “Lead the Way”. To say we are proud of everybody’s efforts and how they pushed forward during lockdowns and supported essential customer businesses, would be an understatement.

So what aspects of the operation are going to help “Lead the Way” through this new reality? Here are a few priorities we would like help with:

  • Safety. Going forward individual safety is paramount. Please be sure to adhere to all local and site guidelines when making inspections. Your wellbeing is foremost. Please be sure to complete all daily logs and maintain good health.
  • Communication. Most states have begun opening and loosening restrictions. Daily, more customer personnel return to work and locations overdue or currently due are feeling a large amount of urgency to get back in compliance. Your diligence in returning calls and answering emails will be key to our creed.
  • Flexibility and Efficiency. Please be sure to look a bit further out to help consolidate travel to areas with density. Maximizing your trip s will help catch up any overdues and service current objects. Some areas may even include future inspections to allow travel to other areas with additional needs. 

We appreciate your efforts and dedication. We have accomplished a great deal during a time in which uncertainty was the only unknown.  

Stay Safe.

Manny Regateiro 

Executive Operations Manager.

Meet Tom Kiernan

Meet Tom Kiernan! He works as our East Coast Regional Supervisor and has been with BPC for about 10 years. In this Q&A, we got to talk to him and find out more about his job, his family, and his hobbies.

 

BPC: What do you do as East Coast Inspector Supervisor?

Tom: I supervise 10 field inspectors who conduct inspections in all states east of the Mississippi, from Maine to Florida. I perform risk assessment surveys for clients at their facility as needed, and I do casualty investigations and root cause reports.

 

BPC: What kind of objects are you typically inspecting?

Tom: I inspect internally and externally, high and low pressure boilers, ammonia refrigeration plants, oil and natural gas processing plants, pumping stations and associated tank farms, and any pressure vessels associated with CO2 storage. 

 

BPC: What are some interesting things you’ve seen on the job?

Tom: The very large power generation stations and facilities that transport oil and natural gas, drug manufacturing facilities, and the paper processing plants are most interesting to me. Most people have no idea of what it takes to maintain electricity and natural gas for their homes, gasoline for their cars, prescription drugs, everyday paper products, and ready-to-eat processed chicken. The scope and complexity is fascinating, and ensuring it is all safe and reliable is an enjoyable challenge. 

 

BPC: What do you enjoy most about working here?

Tom: My excellent field staff and the office support folks ensure that we can operate in the field as efficiently and effectively as the high workload requires. We operate at a technical level that ensures the customer gets the kind of inspection that not only satisfies the jurisdictional requirements for them to operate, but also provides them with relevant advice and information that helps them maintain reliability and safety. 

 

BPC: What do you think sets BPC apart from your competitors?

Tom: We do the most detailed and thorough inspections possible and provide useful information to the customer and the state jurisdictions. This ensures the highest level of safety, reliability, and efficiency that any customer could ask for. 

 

BPC: Tell us about your family and life outside of work.

Tom: I retired from the US Navy (22 years) and MAERSK Line Shipping (23 years). My wife Mary Beth and I have been married for 34 years, and we have three children – two sons and a daughter. 

My oldest son, Dan, has been a paramedic in VA Beach for 10 years after college and is now getting his masters degree as a physician’s assistant at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk. 

 

My middle son, Zach, also a former volunteer city medic for several years in VA Beach while at Virginia Tech, completed medical school at Eastern Virginia Medical School and is now married and a resident general surgeon at Virginia Commonwealth Hospital in Richmond, VA. 

 

My daughter, Caitlin, who is also a former volunteer city medic in VA Beach, completed her BS in Biology and a BS in Nursing and is working as a trauma nurse. She is married and just had her first child and our first grandson. 

 

Outside of work, I volunteer with the City of VA Beach Emergency Medical Services as President and member of one of the 10 volunteer rescue squads providing first due EMS. I enjoy studying US history and traveling to historic areas. My wife and I also love grandparenthood.

 

BPC is fortunate to have such a great leader on our team. Thank you for all you do, Tom!