Industrial Cleaning for the Nuclear Industry

Nuclear facilities require an increased attention to detail, higher qualifications, and greater commitment.

Professional Industrial Cleaning Services

We hold ourselves to the highest standards of safety, quality and integrity.

Specialized Equipment, Technology and Personnel

Few can match our twenty plus years of experience, customization and diversity.

Industrial Cleaning for the Nuclear Industry

Nuclear facilities require an increased attention to detail, higher qualifications, and greater commitment.

Professional Industrial Cleaning Services

We hold ourselves to the highest standards of safety, quality and integrity.

Recent Posts

July 26, 2017

Pipes and Potholes: Two Hydro Vacuum Excavation Stories

We feel strongly about all of our clients—both current and future—knowing what our hydro vacuum excavation services are capable of. We know that at facilities across the nation, managers are constantly coming up against the issue of digging for new construction or additions to existing structures without jeopardizing the integrity of buried lines and pipes. Almost any time there is the possibility of undetected buried lines, or any time excavation needs to happen without bringing in mechanical digging equipment and creating large piles of dirt on the site, hydro vacuum excavation holds the answer. In this post, we’d like to tell you about two recent projects in our home state of South Carolina. In both cases, our vacuum excavation services saved the day and accelerated the project for our grateful clients.

Uncovering Without Damaging—a Specialty of Hydro Vacuum Excavation

In many of our excavation projects, our client knows exactly what infrastructure is below the surface. The objective in these projects is actually to uncover that infrastructure so that the client can address a problem with it or make improvements. But digging with metal blades endangers pipes and communication lines, so a gentler approach is necessary.

At the site of a nuclear power plant under construction in South Carolina, some pipes had been buried during the course of construction. In order to quickly uncover the pipes without damaging them, the client contacted Thompson Industrial Services for help. Our team has successfully accomplished this type of project numerous times in the past, so our technicians were able to quickly plan a solution, execute it, and uncover the pipes as needed in preparation for additional work to be performed on them. Our vacuum excavation services caused no damage to the uncovered pipes, thus avoiding complicated repairs and other associated expenses.
Our hydro vacuum excavation equipment preparing for a potholing job

Efficient Potholing

Potholing is a specific type of excavation involving the digging of small, precise holes, usually in preparation for installing posts of some kind. Our hydro vacuum excavation team is currently (as of this blogpost’s writing) in the middle of a large potholing project, digging 100 holes on another South Carolina site. Ultimately, these holes will be the anchor points for steel/concrete guard posts, strategically placed to protect above-ground water pipes from damage. Digging 100 potholes on a busy industrial site would be a very difficult task for traditional digging equipment, but our team had just the right hydro vacuum excavation equipment for the job.

In the photo attached to this post, you can see the unit we are using to dig the potholes without posing a threat to any lines that may be buried below the surface. The basis of the equipment is a tool called a “soil surgeon,” which accurately describes the precision, gentleness, and skill with which our team digs these holes and protects the environment immediately surrounding them at the same time.

There are already plans in place for Thompson Industrial Services to perform another hydro vacuum excavation project on the same site after the current potholing job is complete. We love it when a client realizes that our versatile vacuum excavation services could be the answer to other needs at their facilities, and we begin to develop a long-term relationship built on trust, reputation, and skill. Of course, our hydro vacuum excavation equipment itself is a central part of that relationship, but it must be handled by technicians that are committed to performing each job with integrity and creativity.

Other Vacuum Excavation Services

For excavation projects at power plants and in areas where there may be critical buried lines, our hydro vacuum excavation approach is usually ideal. However, there are some projects that require zero-moisture excavation. In those cases, we utilize our pneumatic vacuum excavation equipment. By using pressurized air instead of water, we dig with the same levels of efficiency but avoid introducing any water to the site. Our vacuum equipment even collects all soil and debris removed from the excavation site, keeping the environment uncontaminated until the soil is replaced or disposed of.

We invite you to contact us to learn more about our highly efficient, safe digging services as well as the many other industrial services that our expert technicians provide.

June 28, 2017

Chemical Cleaning and Bin Whipping

Here at Thompson Industrial Services, we love being able to share success stories with our blog and social media audience. We recently received some great feedback from two of our clients, who were surprised at the level of knowledge and skill that our teams brought to their projects. With both of these jobs, our technicians distinguished themselves in comparison with competing service providers that the clients had worked with in the past. That kind of distinction regularly encourages new clients to hire us for additional jobs, and we hope that reading about it encourages you to give our chemical cleaning and hydroblasting teams a try as well.

Chemical Cleaning an Acid Tank

Most people will never have occasion to come into contact with a tank full of sulfuric acid. That’s a good thing, since this substance is extremely hazardous to humans and most other things that it comes in contact with. Even with a tank that is specially designed to hold sulfuric acid, you have to be very careful about how you work with the acid leading up to a cleaning; handling it the wrong way can blister the interior walls of the tank and cause serious damage. Our chemical cleaning technicians understand these details and how to accomplish an acid tank cleaning safely, quickly, and affordably. 

A client of ours in Kentucky hired our chemical cleaning division to neutralize a sulfuric acid tank at their facility in preparation for a regular inspection. The inspector had to be able to physically enter the tank, and obviously our team needed to remove all the hazardous acid before that could safely happen. Using our high volume pumps and 3D tooling, we neutralized and desludged the acid tank in less time than it had taken other contractors who had worked on the same equipment in the past. At the same time, we generated less waste, saving the client money overall on the job. The client wrote to Thompson Industrial Services to let us know that he was “very impressed” with the work of our chemical cleaning team, and he looks forward to working with them on future projects.

Our bin whipping team hard at work saving our client money and time!
Bin Whipping

While the term “bin whipping” is unfamiliar to most people, and probably triggers a snicker or two the first time you hear it, it becomes more intriguing the more you learn about it. This service applies to very large storage vessels, tanks, silos, hoppers, and other units that hold various substances. These vessels occasionally need to be cleaned, a process which has traditionally involved lowering a technician into the vessel with manual cleaning tools. Fortunately, today there is an alternative that replaces human activity with technology to increase the speed, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of the process. That technology is bin whipping.

As an example of the benefits of this approach, here is a brief synopsis of a project that we recently handled at a cement plant. This plant needed us to clean two silos, and by the time we had planned the job, brought in the bin whipping equipment, and executed the cleaning, the client had two comments in response. You might think they sound familiar after reading the chemical cleaning account above!

First, our bin whipping strategy got the silos more clean than they had been after cleanings accomplished by competing service providers. Second, we completed the job in less time. For this plant and for the cement industry in general, time is an incredibly valuable commodity. Shortening the cleaning project by at least 20 percent was a significant benefit for the client, and made quite an impression.

In fact, this client is in the process of having us work on several more silos, a project that will have a larger scope than the first one we handled for them. We are confident that our bin whipping equipment and professionals are up to the task and will finish this project with flying colors as well!

Thompson Industrial Services

Chemical cleaning and bin whipping (which uses only compressed air to remove debris) are two very different services, but Thompson Industrial Services provides both with the same levels of expertise and safety-conscious efficiency. We would value the opportunity to introduce you to these and our many other industrial cleaning services today!

June 5, 2017

Automated Hydroblasting: Trust the Numbers

When you are trying to choose between different service providers for a large-scale industrial equipment cleaning need, you probably don’t make your decision based on which company has the flashiest logo, the most personable project managers, or the best-looking website. Those things are great, but you most want to see real results of past work, reported without spin and clearly showing what the service provider is capable of. In other words, you want to see numbers! Our automated hydroblasting and other technology-based applications generate some numbers that cause many of our potential clients to do a double-take. Could advances in cleaning technology really produce those kinds of results? Here are a few of our favorite examples, which show how facilities of all types around the country are enjoying faster, safer, and far more complete cleanings than ever before thanks to Thompson Industrial Services.

Automated Hydroblasting at a Paper Mill

Last year, we conducted an automated hydroblasting job at a large paper mill. When we first met the client and found out about their cleaning need, they had some idea of what to expect, since the cleaning had been performed by other providers in the past. Their benchmark was a 130-hour time span, involving fourteen technicians and two water pumps. One major reason for the extensive downtime was the element of confined space entry. Our automated hydroblasting solutions specialize in accelerating projects involving confined spaces, and we were able to complete the job much more quickly and affordably than previous methods had allowed. Here are the numbers:
  • ·         40 hours instead of 130 (70 percent faster)
  • ·         8 technicians instead of 14
  • ·         Estimated $60,000 saved

Our heat exchanger cleaning services are extremely fast and extremely thorough

A Petrochemical Plant Success Story

An unexpected problem at a petrochemical plant forced a shutdown on short notice, during one of the plant’s busiest periods of the year. Plant managers were eager to get the problem resolved as quickly as possible, but the estimated time needed for the cleaning was eight days, during which the production line would be shut down. A team from Thompson Industrial Services created a plan that incorporated hydroblasting and vacuum services to clean the equipment completely and quickly. Some creativity on the part of our technicians solved a particularly difficult element of the job, allowing the team to clean a reactor on the seventh floor of the building and saving the company thousands of dollars on that particular phase of the project. Here are the numbers for the rest of this successful cleaning project:

  • ·         Six days instead of the estimated eight
  • ·         Cooler tubes 75 percent blocked: completely cleared
  • ·         $10,000 saved by seventh-floor reactor cleaning solution
Automated Hydroblasting: Pushing for Better Numbers

Developing a cleaning solution that gets the job done efficiently isn’t seen as the final goal at Thompson Industrial Services: it’s just a starting point. We constantly monitor advances in the industry to discover the most useful breakthroughs, and we operate our own research division to develop better tools and approaches for industrial equipment cleaning. 

When a packaging company asked us to perform a fan rotor cleaning at their facility, the estimated time needed for the project based on our past performance was 24-36 hours. During the planning phase, however, our technicians explored the possibility of using a different abrasive than they had used in previous projects. After scrutinizing the safety and other considerations related to the new abrasive, they went ahead with the new approach. The choice to do something new paid off in a big way; the fan rotor cleaning only took half the estimated time and got the equipment completely clean. This downtime reduction was a huge success and is now informing our technicians’ service for similar cleaning projects with other clients.

The surprising results of our automated hydroblasting, vacuum, and other cleaning services do not happen “automatically.” They are the product of constant research, innovation, and searching for better ways to do what we already do well. Our commitment at Thompson Industrial Services is to continue giving our clients the best possible service available today, slashing downtime and cleaning costs while investigating the newest products and approaches for even more savings.

If you are impressed by the numbers described here, please email or call today. Put our technicians’ creativity and expertise to work for your facility’s equipment.

March 23, 2017

Heat Exchanger Cleaning and an “Impossible” Problem

We know from our decades of experience in industrial equipment cleaning that there are manufacturing facilities, power plants, and other facilities all over the country with certain “problem” pieces of equipment. We’re talking about units or pipelines that very rarely get a complete cleaning, because they were installed in such a way that getting access to them is extremely difficult. In fact, we’ve helped some facilities clean equipment that has really never been thoroughly cleaned since the day it was put in several decades ago!
Recently, we handled a heat exchanger cleaning project that was in a similar category. As you’ll see, without the automated heat exchanger cleaning services that Thompson Industrial Services offers, this equipment would probably have had to be left in an inefficient, only partly-maintained condition. Yet another success story and another great reason to work with our automated cleaning teams.
A horizontal heat exchanger being cleaned with our automated equipment

Equipment Issues
Our client for this project was a chemical plant in North Carolina. The plant was looking for a better method for cleaning three horizontal heat exchangers than the traditional hand-lancing method. Normally these units would not present an excessive challenge, but an issue with the equipment was causing serious complications. Over time, some of the 18-foot exchanger tubes had warped, creating a route that was not completely straight. This situation was not necessarily a problem for the day-to-day operation of the equipment, but when it came to maintenance, some critical safety regulations on manual heat exchanger cleaning made it impossible to completely clean it.
Safety Regulations
During hand-lancing of heat exchanger tubes, safety regulations dictate the use of a rigid lance that is at least three feet long. This rigid lance was unable to make it to the end of the warped exchanger tubes, leaving the end of those tubes insufficiently clean. For a responsible industrial equipment cleaning company, there is no way around safety regulations, and so the only option was to leave the warped tubes only partially clean and continue operations.
Automated Heat Exchanger Cleaning Services
This is where the automated lancing solutions developed by Thompson Industrial Services showed just how powerful they can be. Because the equipment is not manipulated by hand, the regulation for using a 3-foot rigid lance does not apply. The cleaning tools used by our automated positioners are flexible and able to make it all the way through even the warped exchanger tubes, performing a complete cleaning. For this particular project, our team used an automated two-lance machine, accelerating the process by cleaning multiple tubes at the same time.
Speed and Safety (Again)
A common theme in the automated equipment success stories that we share with you is speed. We routinely cut traditional cleaning times by percentages of 40 percent and higher, getting plants and equipment back online with much less downtime and lost production than ever before. With this heat exchanger cleaning project, our team was finished in seven hours, which was about 40 percent less time than it would have taken a team using hand-lancing methods. When you factor in the consideration that the hand-lancing option would not have achieved a thorough cleaning as the automated approach did, the benefits are much greater than a simple 40 percent reduction in downtime.
Customized Services for Each Job
The flexibility of our automated boiler, heat exchanger, and other equipment cleaning services gives us the great ability to completely customize our equipment and approach to every job. For a unique issue like the warped exchanger tubes in this project, our team and expert planners analyze the situation, discuss what automated tooling and positioners are best suited for it, and devise a solution that will accomplish the objectives most efficiently, safely, and affordably—while keeping the client updated on a constant basis. Whether the challenge is a tank with decades of hardened mineral buildup or a bundle of boiler tubes that is impossible to access with manual cleaning equipment, our highly trained professionals are ready to quickly assess the needs and put our automated solutions to work solving them.
Please get in touch with us to discuss your industrial cleaning needs, whether they are simple, complex, or seemingly impossible. Our experts are ready to meet the challenge with the highest possible levels of efficiency and safety!