10 Jul Save time and money when replacing a contaminated gas panel
Sooner or later it happens at every facility. You get a bad cylinder of gas, a component fails, a cycle purge wasn’t properly completed, and your gas panel or a gas line gets contaminated. The good news is that an effective approach to the problem can save you weeks in downtime.
The typical response when a gas line is contaminated is to pull the contaminated section, throw it away, and buy/install a new one. Replacement panels are sold by all the OEMs; then you’ll need to find a contractor to do the install. But before going down that path, consider the following suggestions to save time and money.
Analyze the contamination:
- Check where the contamination occurred and look for any areas where closed valves or check valves may have prevented the contamination from continuing.
- Purge the line while keeping the valves that were closed when the contamination occurred in the closed position. Cycle purge this area for at least 50 cycles, shock purging at full line pressure for each cycle. The idea here is to get rid of as much of the process gas as possible, making the system safe to open.
- After the contaminated area has been cycle purged, open the rest of the valves, and cycle purge through these as well.
- Open the downstream fitting of the first closed valve and look for the presence of contamination. If you see contamination, move to the next closed valve until you find a clean fitting. Mark where this exists.
Pull the panel with the contaminated section clearly marked
Either send the panel to a certified gas panel repair facility (such as Critical Systems), or have your in-house weld shop fabricate the replacement section. Do not be afraid to use components made by different manufacturers, or use reconditioned components from inert gases, as they can save you considerable time and money. You can reuse the back plate of the panel, the pneumatic section, the wiring harnesses and all good remaining tubing and components. Have Mass Flow Controllers cleaned and calibrated at a certified MFC repair facility. Depending on the type of contamination, the tube assemblies (without the components) may be able to be cleaned. If you have this capability, it will save you money over having them made new. Sections contaminated with corrosive gases will need to be replaced. Do not attempt to clean these as the corrosion typically effects the tubing to the point where it is ruined.
Requirements of the Replacement Panel
When the panel is reconditioned, make sure the critical measurements are adhered to. You’ll want the replacement panel to be a drop in dimensional replacement for the previous panel in case you need to modify your system later. Make sure the panel passes a particle test to assure all the contamination was removed. You’ll want the panel to pass an acceptable test of: < 10 particles at 0.1 micron per cubic foot; < 5 particles at 0.2 micron per cubic foot; 0 particles at 0.3 micron and above. We typically don’t recommend an O2 or moisture.
Install the new panel
Have your contractor or in-house crew replace the contaminated gas lines and install the new panel.
Repairing a contaminated system with a reconditioned gas panel can not only save you up to 80% the price of a new panel, but can also save you weeks of lead-time waiting for a replacement panel from the OEM. This process will save you time, replacement cost and down tool expense.
Critical Systems’ panel repair facility stocks a large supply of parts to allow for ‘fast turn repairs’ on gas systems. Savings of 50% to 80% over the cost of new are common.