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

December 8, 2017

The Science Behind High Pressure Water Jet Cleaning

The concept of water blast cleaning is foundational to many of our most popular, effective, and money-saving services. No one is surprised by the general idea of water cleaning equipment and surfaces, but there are many types of debris and deposits that we assume would take something other than plain H2O to remove. As the clients of Thompson Industrial Services discover on a regular basis, however, in the right hands water blast cleaning becomes one of the very best options for removing the toughest deposits, coatings, and debris that an industrial facility has to deal with. Our post today takes a look at the special tools and methods that harness the power of high pressure water blasting for a wide range of different industrial cleaning tasks.


Successfully accomplishing the most difficult cleaning tasks—operations like stripping away multiple layers of old paint or non-slip floor coatings, for instance—calls for incredible water pressure. Our specialized equipment is capable of delivering up to 40,000 PSI of water pressure. By way of comparison, a standard “medium duty” pressure washer that you might use around the house for washing mildew off vinyl siding, cleaning the driveway, etc. packs between 2,000 and 3,000 PSI. Even heavy duty commercial pressure washers for cleaning concrete or stripping paint don’t typically go above 5,000 PSI. At eight times that level of power, our 40,000 PSI water blast cleaning solutions give our technicians the power to clear debris of types that the average homeowner will never see!

The flip side, of course, is that handling ultra-highpressure water blasting equipment can be very hazardous for workers, equipment, and surfaces in the area. Historically, our technicians at Thompson Industrial Services have minimized the risk by using protective clothing, gloves, and other equipment, undergoing extensive hands-on training, and adhering to our strict internal safety procedures. At the same time, however, our progress in automation technology is gradually taking water blast cleaning equipment out of the hands of our workers altogether.

Our automated equipment keeps our workers at a safe distance while providing superior cleaning.


The safest way to use water blasting equipment with up to 40,000 PSI of water pressure is by manipulating it with robotic tooling. For many years, our engineers have been steadily researching, testing, and implementing methods for hydroblasting that keep our workers at a safe distance while machines do the “heavy lifting.” While there are a wide variety of specific applications, in most cases our teams set up the system with the appropriate water blast cleaning tools, connected with robotic tools that manipulate the hydroblasters, and sometimes control the system remotely with the help of customized software on tablet devices.

Not only is this approach vastly safer than previous manual cleaning methods, but it also outperforms them in terms of efficiency. Human technicians are restricted in how quickly they can work, and even the most seasoned technicians occasionally make mistakes. With safety protocols in place, those mistakes may not lead to injury or damage, but they may leave some debris behind, which will continue to reduce the efficiency of the partially cleaned equipment. Automated hydroblasting equipment can do the same job far more quickly than a human technician, partly because there are fewer safety precautions to follow at the work site and partly because it can handle multiple cleaning tools at the same time. Our remote control software also helps us ensure complete cleaning, especially with complex equipment such as bundles of boiler tubes.


The increased speed of an automated water blast cleaning compared with a manual one means that the same maintenance job costs our client less in terms of money and downtime. It also provides the client with a more thorough cleaning than a human technician could accomplish, which sets the line or facility up for more efficient production and less equipment wear and tear until the next regularly scheduled servicing.

Never content with the “status quo,” our project managers continually look for creative ways that they can cut downtime even further for our clients. They come to each new job with a fresh thought process, assessing the client’s equipment and cleaning needs and determining which of our efficient, affordable water blast cleaning systems is exactly right for that specific task.

November 3, 2017

Three Key Features of Our Heat Exchanger Cleaning Solutions

At Thompson Industrial Services, we have been offering heat exchanger cleaning services based on automated systems for nearly two decades. Our company’s long-term goal has been to make our hydroblasting services 100% hands-free, relying on robotic positioners and remote control to perform incredibly quick, complete hydroblasting for heat exchanger and other complex equipment. We’re excited to be nearing that goal, thanks to the development of some very sophisticated tooling and accessories. In this blogpost, we give you a little closer look at our heat exchanger cleaning methods by identifying three key features of them.

1. 3-D Nozzle Rotation Mechanism

One of the main reasons that heat exchanger cleaning has traditionally been a very time-consuming task is that each tube in a bundle must be individually cleaned. Cleaning each tube with a handheld lance is a tedious process and must progress relatively slowly for the sake of the safety of the technician. Because our heat exchanger cleaning procedure uses a hands-free lance, we can also attach a 3-D nozzle rotation mechanism, which sprays in all directions at once as the lance moves through each tube. Because cleaning occurs during both the “advance” and “retreat” of the lance, the cleaning is much more thorough than that provided by a manual approach, which must use a single-direction nozzle.

2. Robotic Positioners

The robotic positioners, which actually hold and direct the hydro blasters during a heat exchanger cleaning, give us many important advantages over traditional methods. First, they dramatically reduce the safety risks that we must protect against when a human technician is working in close proximity to the equipment and hydro blasters. This is an even more valuable advantage when access to the heat exchanger is restricted. Our robotic tooling can easily fit into small spaces that would be impossible for a human technician to access.

A second advantage is that our robotic equipment can manipulate multiple lances and clean multiple tubes at the same time. This fact alone can cut cleaning times by half. Finally, using robotic tools instead of handheld equipment often allows us to perform a heat exchanger cleaning in a fraction of the downtime. Because downtime represents a significant portion of the total expense for most industrial equipment cleaning, this is an extremely valuable feature that we are proud to offer to our clients.

3. Powerful Water Pumps

The third key feature of our heat exchanger cleaning solutions is the water pump capability that we bring to each job. Our pumps, so large that each one is carried on its own tractor trailer, provide water at a flow rate of up to 1,200 gallons per minute, supplying our automated hydroblasting equipment with all the power it needs to completely clean boilers and other large industrial units. Our project managers and teams of technicians have been working with our specialized pumps for decades, cleaning heat exchangers and other industrial equipment such as boilers, frac tanks, and other vessels that present great difficulties for older cleaning methods. This powerful cleaning equipment makes routine maintenance minimally disruptive, and brings cleaning projects that were previously impractical or prohibitively expensive well within reach. Facilities all over the Southeast and elsewhere in the United States now rely on our automated heat exchanger cleaning process and other cleaning services, recognizing their huge advantages over outdated methods.

Automated systems make heat exchanger cleaning exponentially faster.

Other Hydroblasting Applications

While our high volume hydroblasting is ideally suited to cleaning heat exchangers, boilers, and other equipment, some applications call for a different approach. For surface preparation and removal of floor coatings, for instance, our robotic positioners manipulate high-pressure hydro blasters that quickly and safely strip away even the toughest materials. At the highest pressure, our hydroblasting equipment is capable of making precision cuts in concrete and steel. As with our heat exchanger cleaning, by giving our technicians remote control of the water blasting equipment, we keep them safe and accomplish these challenging jobs with unprecedented speed.

It would be our pleasure to explain more of our hydroblasting capabilities and go into more detail with you on how we can use them to solve your most difficult industrial equipment cleaning challenges. Please email or call us today to schedule an appointment with our experts.

October 6, 2017

Pneumatic or Hydro Vacuum Excavation?

Industrial facilities of all kinds, across the United States, have a big problem in common. This problem is huge, sprawling, complicated, expensive…and invisible until it is too late to avoid it. It’s the issue of buried utilities, which add a hazardous dimension to development projects that require digging either on a facility’s property or in areas that are completely unfamiliar. Of course, many utilities are clearly identified on property maps or can be located with special equipment. But in many other cases, a property is too old to have reliable maps, maps may have been lost long ago, or the area’s utilities have simply never been recorded accurately. In these cases, starting an excavation project means launching a dangerous, tedious, slow, and expensive process. Fortunately, pneumatic and hydro vacuum excavation services offer a welcome solution to this problem.
What’s the Difference?

Pneumatic vacuum excavation services use highly pressurized air to excavate soil, sand, and even rocks while safely uncovering any utilities that are hidden below the surface. Even sensitive communication lines like fiber optics are not damaged by pneumatic excavation, especially when the equipment is handled by technicians with years of experience and a thorough knowledge of best practices. Hydro vacuum excavation is similar, but uses pressurized water instead of air to move soil and other substances. While both services are efficient and safe for utilities, hydro vacuum excavation works more quickly and is normally the preferred method. However, in some settings it is undesirable or unacceptable to introduce moisture to the environment, and the use of water can create instability in the area immediately surrounding the excavation site. When these concerns are major factors, pneumatic vacuum excavation accomplishes the objective while staying within the facility’s safety parameters.

Clean Digging

Whether your excavation job calls for hydro or pneumatic services, the “vacuum” component of our solution may come into play to solve another problem—this one located above ground instead of below the surface. Instead of piling up mud, sand, and stone near the dig site, our equipment is able to collect all the substance loosened during the excavation and keep it contained, preventing it from affecting the immediate environment. When the work below the surface is complete, the soil can either be replaced to fill in the excavation site or taken off site to be disposed of according to the client’s needs. This vacuum option is particularly valuable for projects at nuclear or “ultra-clean” manufacturing facilities, where contamination of the environment during excavation would jeopardize quality.
Our vacuum equipment contains soil during the digging process.

Common Projects for Vacuum Excavation Services

All over the southeastern United States and beyond, our pneumatic and hydro vacuum excavation services have accelerated complex digging projects of many different types. Two of the most common jobs that our excavation division handles are potholing and trenching. During nearly every potholing, trenching, or other excavation project that we conduct, our equipment uncovers utilities or other buried elements that were not clearly identified prior to the start of the dig. Despite this fact, our teams boast a 100% safety record when it comes to protecting those buried elements and preventing damage.

Client Confidence

Our perfect safety record gives our new clients a high degree of confidence when they engage us to plan and execute a pneumatic or hydro vacuum excavation job for them. At the end of the job, when the financial and other benefits of using this efficient, safe digging service are evident, it becomes even more obvious that they made a great decision. On our blog, we have published numerous success stories detailing the ability of these services to solve a wide range of excavation problems in various contexts. We also highlight the service and our ongoing development of our equipment and techniques as we communicate with our valued clients, both remotely and at industry conferences throughout the year.

September 4, 2017

What Dry Ice Cleaning Does and Doesn’t Do

Carbon dioxide has a bad reputation in a lot of people’s minds, and we think that’s unfortunate. Just like any substance, CO2 can help us or harm us, depending on what we do with it. To most people, carbon dioxide is primarily the gas that we humans breathe out after we’ve taken in oxygen and used it to replenish our lungs. Carbon dioxide is also produced by many industrial processes, and most people would recognize it as a “greenhouse gas.” But in the right application, carbon dioxide can do some incredible things, particularly in the area of industrial equipment cleaning. For today’s blogpost, we’d like to walk you through the things that dry ice cleaning does—and just as importantly, the things that it doesn’t do. You’ll see why we at Thompson Industrial Services have a great affection for this little-appreciated substance!

What Dry Ice Cleaning Does

First, the basics of this fascinating process. In dry ice cleaning, we fire small pellets of frozen carbon dioxide in a stream of pressurized air at the surface or piece of equipment that we are cleaning. Although it happens too quickly for the human eye to catch, each pellet then quickly turns from a solid to a gas as it approaches the surface. That phase change releases a huge amount of energy; it’s really a small explosion that blasts contaminating debris away from the underlying surface. Our technicians can adjust the intensity of these explosions to match the job at hand, making it gentle enough to clean brittle paper documents or powerful enough to strip away weld slag, as well as any debris removal need that falls between those two extremes. This huge range of applications makes dry ice blasting one of our key services, ideal even for cleaning in ultra-clean environments like pharmaceutical manufacturing plants.
Before and after a dry ice cleaning!

What Dry Ice Cleaning Doesn’t Do

We can also talk about the value of dry ice cleaning in terms of negatives—what is absent from the service that makes it so beneficial? One of the major things is debris. As the frozen carbon dioxide pellets change to gas, they leave no solid residue, a much different result than sandblasting or using another type of abrasive. The only thing left to sweep up after the cleaning is done is the debris removed from the equipment surface.

Another feature absent from our cryogenic cleaning services is moisture. When performing maintenance on electronic equipment or robotic devices, it is essential to use a cleaning application that is non-conductive and that will not ruin delicate electronics. Dry ice cleaning is an ideal solution for this need, since it uses no water and produces no liquid residue.

One more feature you won’t find with frozen carbon dioxide: hazards for the environment. This service is totally green, and in fact, much of the CO2 that we use has been captured from our other industrial cleaning equipment emissions, frozen, and reused in our cryogenic cleaning services. It’s a very advanced form of recycling that makes good use of carbon dioxide before we allow it to escape into the atmosphere for good.

Safety Essentials

When using dry ice, there are a few critical safety protocols that our technicians always follow. Because CO2 freezes at about 109 degrees below zero, they protect their skin from accidental burns with gloves and other special clothing. In addition, when CO2 sublimates, it displaces oxygen in the atmosphere. Depending on the location of the dry ice cleaning project, our technicians may use breathing equipment to ensure that they take in enough oxygen. There are safety risks to be aware of and protect against with any industrial cleaning project, and our technicians understand how to keep cryogenic cleaning services both safe and highly effective on every job.

In addition to our dry ice cleaning services, Thompson Industrial Services also offers automated hydroblasting, hydro-cutting, and chemical cleaning with the same level of expertise. Our project managers are ready to visit your site, assess the cleaning needs, and identify the very best services to keep your facility’s equipment running efficiently and safely long into the future. Get in touch with us today to find out more.

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.