Hydro Testing in Winter, Ready?
Watch out for Winter
As cooler weather and the winter months close in on us we need to remind ourselves as contractors and business owners that we need to start thinking about preparing our equipment for winter weather operations conditions. We would never send our people out without proper training, gear or equipment, the same applies for the tools the need and the equipment they operate. Also, freezing weather applies both to equipment that is in operation, on site as backup and as well equipment that is being stored for the off season.
Is your project an Oil and Gas Hydro testing project, pipe line Hydrostatic test, a River Diversion or a municipal sewer bypass, well pointing dewatering project then you should be considering the time of year for freeze protection of your equipment. Failure to consider the proper care during the wintry weather operating season only contributes to costly labour and equipment downtimes and overall project costs. The cost of prevention is cheap insurance. NCS Fluid Handling Systems can offer industry leading support and solutions to these projects by incorporating NCS skilled / trained technicians, who are operational experts supported by well maintained equipment and specialized equipment.
Consider these areas of maintenance to reduce costly downtime and increase profitability:
Fuel, lubrication and air filtration
The heart of a piece of equipment is its engine, close attention to fuel, lubrication and air filtration needs to be considered. Proper winter rated fuels are key as well proper fuel system maintenance, ensure the quality of fuel you are having delivered is freezing weather rated to minimize fuel quality issues, such as moisture in the fuel. - consider cleaning the fuel tank cap/vent and making sure the cap is venting as needed - check for water or sediment in fuel, this typically is the main cause of fuel injection system failure & inspect / change the fuel filter(s) if needed.
Engine oil protect the engine’s vital engine components. Follow recommended oil change guidelines as recommended by the manufacturer or equipment supplier.
Regularly inspect the air filter and intake system to insure proper in breathing requirements as well for any openings that could draw in unfiltered air. Always use the correct replacement filter as contaminated air is a known as a cause of premature engine failure.
The overall cooling systems should be inspected regularly as a normal course of operation which includes any reservoirs or hoses. In preparation for cold weather operators should verify that coolant in the radiator is full, as well is tested for cold weather limits.
Technicians and equipment operators should know that the coolant not only prevents the cooling system from freezing but that when properly maintained it also prevents corrosion, increases the boiling point temperature, lubricates seals, and inhibits cavitation.
Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF)
Most diesel equipment in use in the North American markets requires the addition of DEF, if the machine you are using requires DEF it’s important for technicians and equipment operators to know that DEF:
- can freeze and thaw without hurting its ability to function properly.
- in a vehicles or equipment being used throughout the winter months may require additional insulation and freeze protection to protect DEF systems and pumps from freezing during operations or off time storage.
- has a shelf life of one year.
- should be stored in a temperature-controlled location, out of direct sunlight.
- Should be stored an HTPE plastic or stainless container, as it is mildly corrosive.
- can expand in the winter up to seven percent and potentially crack the reservoir, leave room for expansion.
Along with cooler weather daily start up procedures for both operational and all back up equipment (such as pumps) helps to ensure batteries are charged when start-up is needed. And, proper wither maintenance of a battery starts well in advance of winter months arriving, some of the steps technicians and equipment operators should do in preparation of cold temperatures are:
check that the battery electrolyte is up to the full indicator and plates are covered if visible. It should be noted that plates that are allowed to dry out will never perform properly again.
Aa good practice is to clean dirt and debris from the top of the battery, clean any corrosion around the posts off (in accordance with all safe work procedures). The key message here is to ensure the terminal posts and cables have clean, full and secure contact point making sure maximum effectiveness of the battery power.
When storing a machine for the season best practices are to remove the batteries and store them indoors. Periodically it is recommended that batteries being stored for extended periods should be periodically put on charge.
Since tires are key to safe year-round operation everyone operating vehicles, regardless of personal or company, needs to always consider the proper tire selection, maintenance & care of theirs tires. Tires and tracks require daily care and maintenance year-round, but in cold winter elements improper care and maintenance poses a greater risk to personal safety. Technicians and operators should always perform and refer to daily inspection logs for inspection requirements that are company policy or province mandates. These inspections should consider at a minimum the following:
- Always keep tires properly inflated.
- Inspect for even wear.
- Remove debris.
- Inspect tires for any cracking and chunking.
Chassis or undercarriage
A commonly overlooked component of a vehicle or equipment is the area beneath the cab. Over the life of an asset approximately 50 to 60 % of its maintenance costs and service costs apply to the areas beneath the deck. Suspension, brakes hydraulics, tracks, etc. are housed in or beneath the chassis or undercarriage, so to maximize a machine’s efficiency in the winter, proper care and maintenance is needed. These areas need to be inspected daily and kept it clear of any snow, packed mud, gravel or other debris.
Equipment operation in winter
Other important operational maintenance items include an overall a pre-operation inspection and the proper warm-up of the equipment. Proper warm up of the entire equipment systems reduces shock to various components caused by introduction of cold fluids or hydraulic systems. Awareness that cooler weather increases the potential for ruptures in hoses, seals and Orings.
When it comes to overall consideration of for proper operational behavior a balance should be maintained to avoid excessive idling, as it likely wastes fuel, causes warranty issues with excessive idling hours and can contaminate diesel particulate filters. Any excessive idling can create condensation build-up in the crank, which in turn promotes the build-up of sludge and acids potentially causing un safe conditions, contributing to downtime and repairs.
Need a competitive advantage, Safe operating environment the protecting your assets in winter is a smart protection and a inexpensive investment.