A turnkey solution for the inspection of storage spheres: success case of the Applus+ HEX system


    An international chemical company requested Applus+ to perform the statutory inspections on the internal and external surfaces of a 16-metre, LPG sphere. Applus+ operatives carried out these inspections simultaneously and in line with the clients' Written Scheme of Examination (WSE), using the HEX system as an alternative to conventional scaffolding.

    The use of the HEX system provided 360° of accessibility to both the client and Applus+ operatives, which in turn allowed them to prepare and inspect all internal welds, surfaces, and nozzles within the sphere.

    The project scope consisted of conventional non-destructive testingadvanced non-destructive testing, rigging & lifting, and all utilized with rope access trained operatives working from the HEX system.

    The Applus+ HEX system is a suspended access system that is specifically designed for the access requirements of sphere internals and is constructed using modular aluminum truss sections that are in turn passed through either the top or the bottom manways.

    The HEX construction typically takes 2–3 days to install and once constructed, allows the multidisciplined rope access technicians to access all internal surfaces within the sphere. 

    Access to the internal surfaces is completed in vertical drops, top to bottom, by up to 6 Applus+ operatives at any time while the HEX system is in a fixed position. The system was then lifted and rotated to the next location, where it was landed and secured, allowing the technicians to continue working in the next location. This process was repeated until access was gained to all required locations within the sphere. 

    The client was provided daily interim reports throughout the inspection phase of the project, allowing them to decide whether further analysis of specific areas was required. Upon completion of the client's Written Scheme of Examination, a comprehensive inspection report detailing the inspection results for all methods was provided in a hard copy and electronically as per the client's request.

    Further to receiving confirmation from the client that all requested inspection data had been provided, the final phase to remove the HEX system from the clients' sphere was then initiated with the Applus+ team. Removing the HEX and all associated rigging in under 2 days, a task that would normally take up to 2 weeks if using conventional scaffolding.

    During this project, the client identified an additional work scope, to remove some internal pipework from the sphere, this posed a challenge as the pipework had been fitted and welded into position without consideration for removal. Applus+ utilized the HEX system to provide a secure working platform for the client’s incumbent fabrication contractor, to cut and remove the required pipework so that external repairs could be performed. Further to the reinstallation of the new pipework, Applus+ then performed radiography from the HEX system to quantify the integrity of the welds.

    Applus+ completed the full project and the additional repairs, all within the planned period of 35 days. Providing an unrivaled turnkey service offering, and once again demonstrating why Applus+ are the world leaders in this field, saving the client time and money as well as maintaining their 100% safety record. This adds to the 36 successful sphere projects that Applus+ has already completed in 3 continents to date.


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