Mears Group, Inc. and JW’s Pipeline Integrity Services, LLC Join Forces

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To better serve the needs of its expanding client base, the management of Mears Group, Inc. is pleased to announce that Jim Walton and his team at JW’s Pipeline Integrity Services, LLC have come on board.

Headquartered in Carrollton (Dallas), TX, JW’s has been providing pipeline integrity field services for over 14 years.  JW’s staff expertise includes multiple individuals with NACE and ASNT certifications in cathodic protection, coatings, corrosion and non-destructive examinations. Former military personnel make up over a quarter of the technical staff, some with over 20 years of military service.

Mears with a staff of 400 employees is an integrity service provider offering corrosion engineering, technical services and construction services and is headquartered in Rosebush, Michigan, USA. Mears also has US offices in San Ramon, CA, Plain City, OH and Houston, TX and was founded in 1970 and acquired by Quanta Services in 2000.

“The similar corporate philosophies and commitment to technical excellence and customer satisfaction provided an attractive option for JW’s to continue to pursue its goals under the Mears Banner” according to Jim Walton, Principal and Founder of JW’s Pipeline Integrity Services.  Jim will lead the Technical Services Division of Mears as Vice President.

“The synergies of the Mears approach to Integrity Management and JW’s approach to pipeline and integrity field services will allow the companies to better serve their respective client base  and expand into markets beyond their current core business”, according to Alan Eastman, Executive VP and senior executive of Mears Integrity Solutions. “We welcome with open arms JW’s outstanding team of professionals and will continue to provide quality services to our respective and collective clients”.

Inline Inspection Electronics Lab Expansion

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Mears Integrity Solutions is proud to announce the expansion of its West Road Inline Inspection Electronics lab in Houston. Rick Jacob, Mears’ manager of the lab, and of engineering services explains further.

Q: WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF A MEARS ENGINEERING LAB TO SUPPORT THE INLINE INSPECTION OPERATION IN HOUSTON?

All operations for the Inline Inspection division are run out of our Houston facilities. That’s where our inspection tools are prepared for specific inspection runs prior to mobilization to the job site and are refurbished after the runs are complete. The Engineering Lab in Houston provides three functions in support of these operations:

  • provide detailed technical engineering support to operations;
  • provide repair facilities in the event of an electrical or mechanical failure of a tool; and
  • provide the facilities to successfully perform a root cause analysis in the event of a failure during an inspection run.

Q: CAN YOU EXPLAIN WHAT THE PROCESS IN THE EVENT WE HAVE A FAILURE DURING AN INSPECTION?

A failure during an inspection run is considered a very serious event and is a top priority for the division. Considerable effort goes into preparing each tool for an inspection run. The tool is then set up to record data collected during the run, loaded into the launcher, and launched into the pipeline, typically being driven ahead of the product running through the line. At the end of the run, the inspection tool is received in a trap and removed so the data can be downloaded for analysis.

Many things can go wrong when a sophisticated mechanical and electrical device is put into a pipeline and driven substantial distances through all the pipeline features, such as bends, tees, and valves. The tools are subjected to substantial pressure and driven at high velocities. In most cases the tools perform the inspection without problems and provide our analysts with good information; however, even after careful preparation, things sometimes go wrong and cause failures.

Procedures are in place to respond to a failure during a run. Once the possibility of a failure is recognized, an Inspection Failure Investigation, or IFI, is immediately implemented. The goal of the IFI is to collect as much forensic information as possible relating to the failure, analyze that information, and determine the root cause of the failure. Once the root cause is determined, it is used to establish short or long term solutions, or both, so that the lessons learned can be implemented to minimize the chances of the failure occurring again.

The Electronics Lab is an important part of that process. The lab provides the facilities to review the data, dismantle and inspect relevant parts of the tool, measure the electronic signals being generated within the tool, and perform advanced troubleshooting and other testing on the tool to determine the cause of the failure.   Once the cause of the failure is found and repairs or other solutions are put into place, the lab provides the test facilities to verify that the problem is resolved.

Q: WHAT VALUE DOES THIS BRING TO THE CLIENT?

Obviously, successful pipeline inspections are very important to our clients. Substantial man-power is devoted and expense incurred to inspect a pipeline. Every effort must be made to ensure our clients that we can successfully inspect their pipeline and do so while minimizing that man-power and expense. We use a First Run Success (FRS) metric to measure our ability to achieve these objectives.   A high FRS rate indicates a high probability of successful pipeline inspection with a single run without the need to repeat an inspection due to a failure. Our goal is to maintain a high FRS rate for our customers. While efforts are focused on performing successful inspections with a single run, occasional failures are unavoidable. Mears has invested substantial funds to provide the facilities and man-power so our engineering team can analyze forensic information relating to a failure and develop real solutions to mitigate the possibility that a failure will recur. This constantly improves our FRS rate and provides better service to our clients. We are constantly working to improve the design of our tools and our inspection procedures.

By using the facilities of our Electronics Lab, we can ensure our clients that we can develop real solutions to real-world issues relating to our inspection tools, procedures, and processes. This constant quest to improve the quality of our services ultimately provides value to our clients by maximizing the all-important FRS rate.

Q: TELL US MORE ABOUT THE FUTURE…

Current plans for 2015 include investing in additional staff to support the Electronics Lab in Houston. We will be hiring two additional engineers to work out of the Houston facilities as well as an Electronics Technician to work exclusively in the lab.

We have planned for a major expansion of the lab this year and look forward to enhancing the resources available to us to further improve supporting our clients and the Operations Department here at Mears Inline Inspection.

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