Steel storage tanks – whether their design is for potable water or fire protection – should be inspected regularly. The National Fire Protection Association recommends that steel tanks without corrosion control be inspected every three years while tanks with it should be inspected every five years.
Pittsburg Tank & Tower Group has its own inspections department that carries out hundreds of inspections annually. The department is led by Jordan Pyles, who is the director of inspections. Pyles received a business degree from Madisonville Community College in 2014. Just two short years later, Jordan began working at Pittsburg Tank & Tower Group as a project manager in the maintenance division. As of September 2018, he was promoted to director of inspections.
His experience in the maintenance department has helped form his job as the director of inspections.
“The knowledge of how to do the work once it’s sold helps me explain it to our guys so they know exactly what they are looking for,” he said.
Jordan is responsible for overseeing communications with the field crews, helping with scheduling the jobs, overseeing project submittals, and performing spot reviews on all reports to ensure the correct recommendations are made, among other duties.
Archie Antia, the assistant director of inspections, is also responsible for communicating with field crews, coordinating the field crews’ equipment and managing the robotic fleet.
Remotely operated underwater vehicles – or ROVs – allow in-service inspections and cleanouts to be completed without taking tanks out of service. Jordan likens using a robot for an in-service inspection or cleanout to a noninvasive surgery. Robots can inspect and clean out the tanks without the tanks being drained of water, which is appealing to both fire protection and potable water customers.
Fire protection companies are reluctant to drain their tanks because they would then have to set up a temporary fire watch or another method for fire suppression while their tanks are out of service. When dry inspections are performed on potable water tanks they must be drained, disinfected, and then tested to ensure they are free from bacteria. Some customers might be hesitant to greenlight the more time-consuming dry inspections, but the ROVs allow them the flexibility to keep their tanks in operation during inspections.
There are, however, advantages to dry inspections. Inspectors performing dry inspections are up close and personal with the steel inside the tank. Inspectors have a better idea of what the tank’s interior looks like, and they are better able to judge any deterioration or flaws that may need to be addressed.
“I always tell customers that ROVs are great when you can’t take your tank out of service because it’s a lot easier logistically for them to accomplish,” Jordan said. “On the flip side of that, a dry inspection is always going to be the number one best thing to do because having someone physically inside your tank looking at it will allow for a better understanding of its current condition.” He added that while the robot’s high-definition cameras capture a lot, “nothing beats the naked eye.”
The thorough inspections move at a brisk pace, with crews potentially completing as many as three jobs in a day. PTTG’s field crews can and have performed inspections all over the United States and even beyond. PTTG recently performed tank inspections on four tanks in Chile. Crews have also traveled as far as Qatar to perform inspections.
“The mobility of our department is definitely the biggest benefit,” said Jordan.
There are five field crews, each led by an experienced foreman. Each crew member has been trained to carry out the quality of work that PTTG demands in the field.
“We’ve taught them to understand that everything matters when you are on a job site, and to pay attention to the details even if it’s something that Pittsburg ourselves doesn’t do,” he said. “If it’s something worth mentioning, we make note of it to the customer.”
Jordan added, “I feel like the guys we have now and the way we train them have led us to have the best field crews we’ve ever had.”
The PTTG field inspections teams include foremen Jacob Groth, James Funk, Chris Collins, Ryan Greathouse, and Christian Fenwick; as well crew members Trevor Grissom, Devon Cowan, Jadal Fletcher, Austin Fulkerson, Lance Collins, Gazaar Dudley, DiMarco Bender, Christian Flint, Jarred Haggard, and Aaron Perkins.
The office staff has a wealth of experience. They take the information gathered on-site from the field inspection crew and produce a comprehensive report for the customer. Each component of the tank is reviewed against current codes and guidelines to inform the customer if the tank is in compliance with OSHA, AWWA or NFPA (depending on the use of the tank). The report team reviews the underwater videos and the inspector’s notes, using both to prepare recommendations for tank maintenance. A DVD of the video, plus the magazine-style report, is then sent to the customer.
The PTTG office inspections team includes Lynn Julian, Rosey Johnson, Leah Gilmore, Emily Ditto, Lisa Sutton, Shania Lawrence, Glenda Moore, and Connie Erickson.