Posted by Matt Register

Teodoro Leon-Salamanca, Ph.D., the President of Reinhart & Associates discusses how components can be inspected for integrity and calculate their lifetime.

Please excuse any typos in this hasty transcript.


Matt Register: And welcome back. Texas Business Radio, TexasBusinessradio.com is the website. We’re down here at the George R. Brown, at the Turbo Show. We’re at the 47th Turbo Machinery and 34th Pump Symposia. We’re talking about rotating equipment, we’re talking about pumps, and turbines, and gear boxes, and anything that goes round and round. Which is very very big business in Texas. I’m your host, Matt Register. Jay Curry, had to step out. He’s going to join us here a little bit later.
But in the meantime, where going to talk a little bit about testing of equipment, because this is very very expensive equipment. You get big turbines, they cost a lot of money, it behooves you to make sure that you know when it is you need to do maintenance and when that equipment is going to fail.
So we have Teodoro Leon-Salamanca is the president of Reinhart and Associates out of Austin, Texas. Teodoro, welcome to the show, sir.

Teodoro Leon-Salamanca, Ph.D.: Thank you for inviting me.

Matt Register: So talk to me a little bit about Reinhart and Associates. What do you do and who do you do it to?

Teodoro Leon-Salamanca, Ph.D.: Well, Reinhart and Associates was founded about 40 years ago and it started looking at inspecting steam turbines.

Matt Register: Okay.

Teodoro Leon-Salamanca, Ph.D.: Now, we do steam turbines, and gas turbines, and essentially rotors and stuff that rotates, at mostly power plants, where they generate electricity.

Matt Register: Okay.

Teodoro Leon-Salamanca, Ph.D.: And it’s all around the world.

Matt Register: So you guys come into an onsite location. A power plant, or somebody that has these turbines operating, and you can take a look at it. Visually inspect it. You can take the component parts of it and do some inspection and you can basically tell them how long that thing is going to last, right?

Teodoro Leon-Salamanca, Ph.D.: Correct. It’s a condition assessment. We look at the material and make sure that the integrity of the system is okay, and once you do that, they you do an analysis to tell them when, possibly, they need to do the inspection again. So, we give them a re-inspection interval. If the component passes the inspection.

Matt Register: Well, even if the component doesn’t pass inspection, right? There’s generally going to be flaws with a lot of these things, right?

Teodoro Leon-Salamanca, Ph.D.: Yes, that’s correct.

Matt Register: Some of those flaws are acceptable, some of those flaws are not acceptable, right?

Teodoro Leon-Salamanca, Ph.D.: That’s correct.

Matt Register: But you’re giving recommendations to the clients engineering team and saying, here’s what we found. You guys make the decision.

Teodoro Leon-Salamanca, Ph.D.: Exactly, if there’s a specific code that applies on the [inaudible 00:02:51] criteria, then we report that, and they decide whether to repair it, or replace it, or modify it, or whatever needs to be done.

Matt Register: Besides power plants, what else are you guys into?

Teodoro Leon-Salamanca, Ph.D.: We have an interesting project right now with a company here in Texas. That has transmission lines, and those big metallic poles that you see when you driving on the highway are the transmission lines?

Matt Register: Right.

Teodoro Leon-Salamanca, Ph.D.: They are made of steel, it’s galvanized steel and it’s welded to a big plate on the bottom.

Matt Register: Okay.

Teodoro Leon-Salamanca, Ph.D.: That weld that joins the pole to the plate, is being inspected by our company and we’ve been finding a lot of defects that need to be fixed-

Matt Register: Interesting.

Teodoro Leon-Salamanca, Ph.D.: Because that presents a safety concern.

Matt Register: Well sure it does. Not only a safety concern, but a reliability of the power grid concern, and all kinds of concerns.

Teodoro Leon-Salamanca, Ph.D.: That’s right.

Matt Register: But that is a stress point in that assembly, is that weld, and you guys are there to inspect it-

Teodoro Leon-Salamanca, Ph.D.: Yeah, all the tension from the cables, and all the wind, and all the weather affects the integrity of that weld.

Matt Register: And ignoring the elements and everything else, it’s raining and nasty out there and everything else, right?

Teodoro Leon-Salamanca, Ph.D.: And in that particular case, the American Weather Society code applies for that particular inspection.

Matt Register: Interesting.

Teodoro Leon-Salamanca, Ph.D.: Now, in some of these turbines that are made by different manufacturers, there’s not like a code that applies. So you have to do a stress analysis, fine element analysis, metallurgical analysis to come up with an assessment, of your own with fraction mechanics, to tell them if something needs to really be repaired or not. Because there’s not a code that regulates that.

Matt Register: But we’re talking abut big money, right?

Teodoro Leon-Salamanca, Ph.D.: Oh, yeah.

Matt Register: The decision to replace a turbine. For one, there’s a life span that manufacturer gives you, but that doesn’t mean that on its 40th birthday that the thing dies, right? That’s not what it means at all, right?

Teodoro Leon-Salamanca, Ph.D.: No it doesn’t. Especially, if the owner of the turbine has done a good job in maintaining it, then the 30 year, 40 year useful life could be extended by doing these analysis.

Matt Register: Well, and these are expensive enough pieces of equipment that if you can extend it that’s all mar to me, now that makes you a lot of money by extending it.

Teodoro Leon-Salamanca, Ph.D.: Well, the idea here is that if the turbine is at least … these turbines are 20, 30 million dollar each. The inspection costs 10 percent or less.

Matt Register: Pennies compared, right?

Teodoro Leon-Salamanca, Ph.D.: So, versus buying a new one. Plus, you have to wait maybe a year and half or two to get a new turbine. So it makes sense to have this service provided so that you can continue to operate safely.

Matt Register: So that’s when they call and bring the smart egg engineers to figure out how much longer that thing’s going to last, right?

Teodoro Leon-Salamanca, Ph.D.: That’s right. If you got to our website, our mission is to improve the reliability of this components and also to give them value, because a turbine that is damaged or cracked, has no value, but once we inspect it and repair it, it becomes valuable. The asset increases in value.

Matt Register: Yeah, it doesn’t make any money standing still, does it?

Teodoro Leon-Salamanca, Ph.D.: No.

Matt Register: Not a bit. So interesting stuff. Now you guys, what are the different types of inspections you guys do?

Teodoro Leon-Salamanca, Ph.D.: We do visual inspection. Most of the time. You use your naked eye, or your flashlight, or magnifying glass. Or you use a remote visual with a borescope in difficult access areas. Then either we do a liquid penetrant, or a magnetic particle inspection, eddy current inspection. Of those four, a visual, mag particle, eddy current, and the liquid penetrant surface testing we are looking for something that broke all the way to the surface.

Matt Register: Right, but it doesn’t have to break all the way to the surface to be a problem, right?.

Teodoro Leon-Salamanca, Ph.D.: If it is embedded, then you rely on ultrasound.

Matt Register: Okay.

Teodoro Leon-Salamanca, Ph.D.: We use ultrasonic inspection for that matter, so.

Matt Register: Interesting. Alright, Teodoro Leon-Salamanca, is Doctor Teodoro Leon-Salamanca is the president of Reinhart and Associates, out of Austin, Texas.

Teodoro Leon-Salamanca, Ph.D.: Yes, sir.

Matt Register: Thank you very much for joining us. This has been interesting. What is the easiest way for someone to learn more, should they want to learn more about what you guys do.

Teodoro Leon-Salamanca, Ph.D.: You could go to our website. R-E-I-N-H-A-R-T, A-S-S-O-C.com, reinhartassoc.com, and just look us up and if you have any questions email us or call us.

Matt Register: Alright, will do. That’s a lot of letters. I tell you what we’re going to have a link right there from Texasbusinessradio.com, if you’re driving and can’t take notes. Reinhart A-S-S-O-C.com. These are the inspectors that keep, that really keep our power grid moving, right?

Teodoro Leon-Salamanca, Ph.D.: Yes, sir.

Matt Register: Alright. Wonderful. Thank you very much for joining us. This has been interesting. We’re going to take a quick break, we’re going to pay some of our own bills and we’re going to be back right on the other side of the break with whole lot more Texas Business Radio. Don’t go anywhere.

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About the Author
Matt Register

Matt Register

In addition to hosting "Texas Business Radio," Matt is an investment banker and serial entrepreneur from Montgomery, Texas. He is the owner of RREA Media and Register Real Estate Advisors and a Managing Director and Principal at Corporate Finance Associates. He has a BS from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an MBA from Rice University in Houston. You can read more about Matt HERE.

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