Pandemic negatively affects vessel testing

27th November 2020 By: Cameron Mackay - Journalist

The negative impact of Covid-19 on the local economy has resulted in a significant decrease in the testing of air-pressure vessels, says air compression products and services provider Tru Compressor Solutions sales director Phillip Botha.

The company has conducted 15 tests on air-pressure vessels this year to date, compared with the 70 tests of last year. Forty tests were conducted in a two-month period during 2018, he adds.

Botha identifies the cost considerations of such testing, particularly amid the currently constrained economic environment because of Covid-19 as a significant reason for this lack of testing.

“A lot of air-pressure vessels in the local market have either passed their required testing time by a significant margin or they’ve never been tested at all.”

According to the South African Pressure Equipment Regulations, air-pressure vessel testing is required every three years on all pressure vessels with a capacity of  10 ℓ and higher.

He cautions that neglecting such testing can pose a significant risk to employee health and safety, as this can result in a vessel exploding.

The testing of air-pressure vessels is also required to avoid accidents, which can result in unplanned downtime and damaged equipment.

Air-pressure vessels have to be structurally intact to maintain internal pressure and to avoid compressed air from leaking out. Testing ensures that these vessels do not contain any defects such as punctures, cracks or loose connections that could compromise the vessel’s stability.

Further, Tru Compressors offers aftermarket care and air-pressure vessel testing to clients.

Testing involves inspections on the inside and outside of a vessel to check for corrosion, random thickness testing and hydrostatic testing to check for leaks and cracks on a vessel.

Botha explains that testing an air-pressure vessel can sometimes cost up to

R25 000, depending on the size of the vessel, with larger air-pressure vessels usually the most neglected, as they are the most expensive to test.

Further, he points out that the testing and maintenance of such vessels require downtime, consequently creating another cost constraint, which companies might be reluctant to implement amid the current economic climate.

“We continue to market the idea of testing and to create awareness among companies about the risks of not testing their air-pressure vessels. We hope that the number of tests will increase as the economy recovers, as we would like to build up the air-compressor market, and sustain it,” he concludes.