Hydrogen atoms are minutely small and able to diffuse (tunnel) through iron, however a proportion remain trapped, causing reduced ductility in high strength steel by restricting internal ‘slippage’ along crystal planes. Low strength steels may blister due to the pressure of gas molecules, which are orders of magnitude larger than individual atoms. Austenitic stainless steels are immune to embrittlement because their FCC structure has 4 more slip planes than BCC iron.
Hydrogen may be present in steel from manufacture, or it may enter due to corrosion or from process gas. Sour (H2S) corrosion is more virulent because the sulphur inhibits the formation gas molecules, making available substantially more atomic hydrogen. Molecules dissociate to atomic hydrogen above 205°C resulting in hydrogen ‘charging’, which doesn’t reduce ductility whilst hot but can when cold or if welding is undertaken. Above ~240°C hydrogen combines with the carbon in steel, forming methane, surface fissuring and decarburisation (HTHA). Hydrogen can be driven out of steel by heating to above ~300°C, but HTHA is irreversible.
The mysteries of hydrogen damage remain because, really, we don’t know the first thing about how atoms work, hence we ended up believing quantum entanglement is actually a thing!
Supporting Butterwick by cycling height of Everest (in 24 hours!)
Peter rode up and down the 5-mile climb 22 times (each way) and through the night without sleep, reaching an elevation of 29,900 feet – pedalling a total of 216 miles in 22.5 hours. Peter was supported by a team of family, friends and relay team of colleagues who helped guide him to the summit. He was supported by a number of generous sponsors and Axiom Engineering Associates was one of the largest, helping Peter to raise almost £4,500 for a wonderful cause. Well done Peter on a fantastic achievement!
Taking on the Lyke Wake Challenge!
Rob Johnson, Director of Axiom Engineering Associates Ltd, is trying to help the Cleveland Mountain Rescue Team keep running during the Covid-19 pandemic. He’s looking to take on the Lyke Wake walk challenge, which is a traverse of the North York Moors National Park on foot, a distance covering 40 miles of heather upland, to be completed within 24 hours.
Cleveland Mountain Rescue Team are still working hard to provide a service, especially as people are moving back into wilderness areas for leisure and exercise, now restrictions are easing. However, the Team have suffered a funding shortfall as their main fundraising event had to be cancelled back in late March due to the lockdown.
The Team already have a Covid-19 fundraising page set up and Rob asks anyone who would like to sponsor him to use the link to make a donation. He will be setting off during the early hours of the 19th June from Osmotherley, looking to finish hopefully within the 24-hour limit at Robin Hood’s Bay.
Rob says his training has consisted of growing a lockdown beard in the style of a Mountaineer – which he hopes will help stop his legs from aching – maybe wishful thinking!
Adapting your inspection programme in these challenging times
We are all living through extremely challenging times. As the situation around Covid-19 impacts on us personally and our families, we are all learning how to work differently, and, more often than not, remotely from the colleagues and assets that have been a constant in our working lives.
For operators of high-hazard plant, ‘business as usual’ in terms of inspection management, may not be feasible in light of these unprecedented factors. Shutdown / Turnaround scopes involving scores of contract personnel converging on a plant to deliver inspection and maintenance activities – whilst applying social distancing – is seemingly an unrealistic option for now. Operators are now considering options to ensure that plant integrity continues to be maintained, whilst ensuring the welfare of all stakeholders.
Axiom are on hand to advise on appropriate means of meeting your regulatory requirements and protecting your people and assets, whilst optimising intervention. Examples of this include:
Asset Prioritisation Exercises. What is the real ‘Achilles Heel’ on your plant? In these trying times, where can you get the most ‘bang for your buck’ in an optimised inspection scope? At Axiom, we can work with you to undertake a holistic review of your plant and existing inspection scopes, to ensure that, with a shorter intervention period and potentially reduced manning, you are addressing only the most crucial integrity and business risks. Our multi-disciplinary team – including team members with notable experience on the ‘client side’ for an alternative take – have the knowledge of asset degradation and through-life management to offer a pragmatic, rationalised strategy.
Postponement. The work highlighted above will provide the confidence that interventions can be pushed out or eliminated, channelling limited resources towards the right areas. Nonetheless, for Pressure Systems, formal notification to the HSE will be required should there be a desire to deviate from an upcoming ‘due date’ during this uncertain period. This can be done once and once only. Axiom, as SAFed members with a link through this to the HSE’s position, are uniquely placed to advise our clients on requirements surrounding the preparation of a robust postponement safety case that will ensure full regulatory compliance. For more complex cases, this can be augmented by specialist engineering input from our Mechanical and Materials teams.
Non-invasive inspection. So, as can be seen, support is on hand to ensure that you are only assessing what needs to be assessed, but are you inspecting these items in the most efficient manner? Targeted non-invasive inspection (NII) is another means of both supporting a postponement safety case, and bringing still-scheduled ‘invasive’ Shutdown / Turnaround inspection work outside of a congested ‘standard’ inspection window. NII could encompass nothing more involved than a detailed external visual examination, but the latest specialist NDT techniques can provide previously unimaginable levels of insight which, combined, may eliminate the need to open up an asset. Axiom are already working with a number of clients in a similar manner to keep their inspection / integrity programme moving, and bring tasks outside of a bottleneck situation with potentially-compromised Shutdown / Turnaround manning levels.
So really, the message right now is that we are all being pushed to ‘think smarter’ in the current climate. We are here to work with you to explore alternative strategies that get what needs to be done ‘done’ at this time. However, some alternative thinking around how we plan and deliver inspection may form the basis of an optimised integrity management strategy for the longer-term. We’d be delighted to be a part of setting you on that path to maximising your assets and minimising risk – through minimising intervention!
Mechanical integrity insight – pragmatic solutions to optimise your spend
As the restrictions surrounding Covid-19 lead to challenges in progressing plant integrity management strategies, operators are naturally likely to search for means of minimising intervention whilst maintaining existing levels of integrity assurance. This introduces challenges when operating ageing assets – time-based, and operationally-induced, degradation will continue to come to the fore, irrespective of the issues we are collectively facing at present.
Repair and eventual replacement of degraded assets may be an established practice on any given site, however it should be remembered that Repair / Replacement constitute only two of the four ‘R’s assigned to potential outcomes from a fitness for purpose assessment. By engaging the right integrity management partner, and asking the right questions of both them and other stakeholders on your site, the following could be achieved:
Run. You may be surprised at the level of redundancy in the design of your aged equipment. Just how damage-tolerant is your asset? By employing advanced fitness for purpose tools such as Finite Element Analysis, you can simulate the true response of your component under complex loading, removing much of the inherent conservatism seen in a codal assessment. This may provide justification and confidence in leaving ‘as-is’ – at least until an opportune intervention window.
Re-rate. Quite often the most straightforward means of achieving fitness for purpose is to consider re-rating a piece of equipment based upon the actual required demands on an asset. This could mean reducing a liquid level in a storage tank, or undertaking an assessment of a pressure vessel using current (or revised) Safe Operating Limits rather than nameplate values. This approach would also seek to exploit redundancy in a component’s design, and with many assets designed for a far-more onerous duty than needed, a small change to the conditions seen may make a big difference.
At Axiom, our Mechanical team will be delighted to work with you and guide you through the options available to arrive at the most cost-effective means of demonstrating ongoing component integrity. Working with our team, you can be assured of a pragmatic solution to your most pressing integrity management concerns, allowing you to focus your maintenance budget, and personnel deployment, where they are truly needed at this time.
Axiom helps with emergency visor manufacture
Axiom, as part of the Teesside Engineering Network (TEN), recently supported a call out for industry to donate any spare PPE to our NHS. Frustratingly, due to supply chain shortages, we weren’t able to donate ourselves.
However, we did respond to a call out from Mark Elliott, who is Deputy Head of Engineering at Hartlepool College of Further Education.
Mark is one of a whole army of home ‘3D printer’ owners across the UK, who is busy printing off the plastic head bands pieces that form part of the protective visors. Where Mark was struggling, was for the clear plastic sheet to complete the visor. We’ve been able to source these sheets and supply him with enough sheets to manufacture 300. This is an impressive tally as the turn out rate is ~ 12 per day and Mark has made 60 so far. These are to be used by North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust.
The Engineers amongst you will have noticed from the photo that Mark has been able to ‘nest’ three of the head band components to improve production rates.
It costs about 80p to 3D print each visor, so we’ve also agreed to make a donation of £200 to help cover the cost of these items.
Well done to Mark and the College – we wish you every success in reaching your target!
Axiom adapts quickly to continue working effectively alongside COVID-19 restrictions
As the current global situation with COVID-19 continues to affect us all, we wanted to update you on how we are supporting our employees and our clients, partners and suppliers.
The health and wellbeing of everyone associated with Axiom is always our number one priority, and given the current circumstances this is even more important than ever.
In response to COVID-19, we are following government and public health guidelines to ensure that no-one is put at any unnecessary risk. As a result, we have taken the following steps:
For our staff:
Identified at-risk workers and have them working in isolated offices or from home.
Taken steps to ensure that all personnel who can work from home are doing so.
Fitted hand sanitisers at each entry point in our offices.
Implemented a daily programme of enhanced sanitisation in our work places.
For our clients, partners and suppliers:
All of our team are fully equipped to work effectively from remote locations, with communications and systems already in place to enable this.
We maintain the capability to safely support on-site inspection operations whilst ensuring, in conjunction with our clients, that social distancing practices are followed to protect all parties.
We’re doing everything we can to adapt to the fast-moving situation and meet the evolving challenges to ensure that we remain operational.
As a result of the above actions, Axiom continues to operate as normal.
How to get in touch
As always, we are available whenever you need us. As a reminder, here are our contact details along with direct lines to our Axiom Inspection and NDT team.
As you are aware, the situation is rapidly changing on a daily basis and we will continue to monitor this closely. These are uncertain times for us all. It is an ever-changing and unprecedented situation, but we retain significant liquid assets, are agile and have the necessary systems and processes in place to work our way through this challenging time.
We fully appreciate that our clients’ day-to-day operations and forward planning for 2020 will be impacted by the situation in which we find ourselves. Circumstances may lead to increased demand on ageing assets, for instance social distancing necessitating re-evaluation of inspection strategies, or a general need to further extend operational life.
Rest assured, Axiom, as a trusted partner to our clients, is ensuring that our expertise remains available to work with you to address any of these emergent challenges, and we are here to support you.
You can follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter for the latest information on what we are doing at Axiom as the situation evolves.
Dancing her way to the top!
Life couldn’t be better for one Hartlepool youngster who is aiming high to fulfil her dreams in dancing with some help from award-winning engineering specialists, Axiom Engineering.
Eleven-year-old Ava Gordon has been dancing since the age of two when she began to learn steps at the Val Armstrong School of Performing Arts. As her skill and confidence grew, Ava began to compete in her age categories in different genres of dance including acro, ballet, tap and modern.
After winning numerous championship titles both as a solo artist at the Theatre Dance council Championships and also as part of a team at the British Troupe Championships, Ava’s most recent achievement came last year in Portugal. She was a gold medal winner in acro dance at the 2019 Dance World Cup in Braga, where at 10 years old represented Team England in the age category 10-14.
This year’s Dance World Cup (DWC) will be held in the Cinecitta World Theme Park in Rome which begins on June 26th until 4th July 2020. Ava will be competing in the 10-14 acro section as a soloist along with contemporary modern, a duet, trio and several troupes.
Her enthusiasm, energy and achievements at such a tender age attracted Axiom to provide support with Ava’s up and coming dance adventure. With such fierce dedication and drive to succeed, Axiom recognised how much this meant to the youngster.
Adam Potter, Axiom Managing Director said, “It is so refreshing to see young people in the area with so much talent and are driven to work hard to succeed. Ava has already demonstrated how hard she has worked to achieve so much at such a young age. We are delighted to provide financial support with this year’s Dance World Championships and wish her the very best of luck – we know she will do us proud”.
Axiom opens its doors with a further new office in the North West of England
Hot on the heels of the launch of a new office in the Central Belt of Scotland, the promise of an additional office in the North West has now been realised.
Axiom Engineering Associates’ localisation strategy to establish regional presences in key Chemical and Process sector hubs has led to the opening of another new office at one of the UK’s leading independently-owned business and technical parks.
Based in a central location in Runcorn, The Heath Business and Technical Park is the ideal platform for Axiom to develop and deploy its integrity management strategies to support their clients in the North West.
The facility boasts a central location in Runcorn with excellent accessibility via road, air and rail networks, “state of the art” facilities along with a variety of amenities supporting the needs of the innovative community. The new open-plan office will support the next phase of Axiom’s growth in the North West which includes the creation of a dynamic and experienced workforce to enhance Axiom’s existing capabilities.
Kevin Murray, Axiom’s Regional Manager for North West England and Scotland said: “Following the comments made at the end of 2019, we have been able to move quickly to secure a new office in the North West. This will enable us to deliver an efficient and responsive service much sought after by clients who require our support in safely operating and extending the life of their ageing assets.
This is an exciting opportunity for the business. Our clients in the North West are keen to embrace the Axiom ethos and track record of excellence. It is our people that make the difference and with plans to recruit further expertise and knowledge this will support the growth of our integrity management services in the area.”
The award-winning company which specialises in the provision of UKAS accredited inspection services, backed up by a mechanical and materials asset integrity section, is expected to grow strongly this year.
This move is in response to client demand and part of the overall strategy of the business. With the continued building of long-term partnerships and strategic alliances, Axiom’s growth is testament to its capability to deliver effective lifecycle integrity management systems to its clients.
It’s National Apprenticeship Week, 3rd – 5th February 2020
This week’s spotlight on the benefits of the apprenticeship scheme highlights the importance of the apprenticeship scheme to both employers and apprentices.
Stockton-on-Tees based, Axiom Engineering Associates are amongst those employers who are strong advocates of this initiative with their regular intake of apprentices since 2014 to support their expanding business.
This year’s theme behind the 13th Annual National Apprenticeship week is “Look Beyond” which aims to celebrate diversity and the added value that apprenticeships bring to employers, apprentices and the community.
At Axiom, we are celebrating the talent of the three existing apprentices who began their journey with the business almost 2 years ago. NDT apprenticeship technicians, Matthew Black, Daniel Connor and Jamie Frew are now on the final year of their journey as apprentices and will soon be joining the ranks as fully-fledged NDT Technicians.
The programme has involved two parts both theoretical and practical training. Theoretical support has been delivered by Skills Training who have regularly guided and led the apprentices through the NDT learning process. The programme has included NVQ Level 2 in Business Improvement Technique, Industrial Environmental Awareness and NVQ Level 3 in Non-Destructive Testing, culminating in achieving CSWIP 3.0 qualifications in Visual Welding Inspection. Progression to PCN Level 2 in Ultrasonic Testing and Eddy Current Testing will now form the next stage of their professional development.
Classroom-learning has been supported by on-site practical work led by Axiom NDT Technicians and Inspectors with exposure to a range of chemical site assets including piping systems, storage tanks and pressure vessels. Involvement in a range of work has provided the apprentices with experience in shut down situations, working extended hours and on location across the UK.
Development of personal skills has also been an aim of the process to enable apprentices to demonstrate behaviours aligned with the Axiom Mission Statement and Values. Harnessed with knowledge and experience gained from the apprenticeship programme, all three apprentices have increased in confidence and have been keen to take on additional responsibility above and beyond apprentice-level. Performing consistently well throughout the programme, they are expected to complete their three-year apprenticeship successfully.
Managing Director, Adam Potter said,” At Axiom, we’re great believers in investment in our young people. There is so much talent out there and the apprenticeship initiative is the ideal method to attract and develop fresh talent into our businesses. We want to grow our businesses in the Tees Valley and what better way by investing in home-grown talent from our local communities.”
He added, “We need to look beyond traditional routes into employment and encourage more businesses to adopt this scheme to reduce the skills gap but also to provide opportunities for fulfilling, future career in engineering. At Axiom, this also supports our success planning strategy to ensure we can continue to deliver the engineering services to meet the expectations of our clients in years to come.”
Previous successful Axiom apprenticeships include Daniel Burridge and Adam Foxton who are currently working on their second year of the Non-Destructive Testing FdSc and next year, will move onto the Non-Destructive Testing BSc (Hons).
Axiom has begun its next phase of expansion after opening a new office in Grangemouth in October 2019 with a further office planned in February 2020 in Runcorn. It is expected that further apprentices will be employed under The National Apprenticeship Scheme at a later date.