When Is It Time to Retire Your PAT System?

The Answer’s Not as Simple as It Might Appear

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  • Replacement – Replacement refers to replacing an analyzer system “in kind” or with an “improved” installation. An analyzer system that is truly “in kind” or identical to the existing system can usually be paid for on a maintenance budget, but a replacement system with significant improvements, whether desired or not, should come from the capital budget. Consult your capital equipment and/or tax accountant.
  • Relocation – In some cases, an analyzer system is not obsolete. Relocation to a more convenient spot will solve the problem. This is often the case with peripheral equipment such as gas cylinder racks, lighting, junction boxes and process sample points.
  • Reapplication – Reapplication usually refers only to the analyzer and assumes that the sample conditioning system will have to be replaced. Frequently an existing analyzer that is unsuitable for its current application can be “reapplied” by its manufacturer for a new, unfilled, application that has developed since the original installation. Reapplication may involve putting new valves, columns and detectors in a GC or new sample cell, optical filters, and source in a photometric analyzer. Reapplication of an available “old” analyzer is not always inexpensive, but it can save time and money over a new analyzer.
  • Decommissioning – Decommissioning can be as simple as turning all analyzer system switches and valves to the “off” position and cooperating with an operations representative to apply “Do Not Operate” or similar safety tags to the utility and fluid cutoff points. Be sure to deactivate and eliminate the corresponding analyzer alarms in the control room.
  • Decontamination – Decontaminating refers to making an analyzer system slated for removal safe for personnel to work on. This may mean forcing air or neutralizing fluid through the tubing, steam cleaning, immersing in neutralizing solution or washing down with soap. Decontamination extends to making the equipment safe for a recycler or metal salvager.
  • Demolition – Demolition is removing the analyzer system and preparing the site for its next construction. With proper isolation and safety measures, decontamination can take place after demolition or dismantling. Dismantling and demolition are identical.
  • Dismantling – Dismantling and demolition are identical, though one should be aware of company-specific and site-specific definitions.
  • Disposal – Disposal refers to recycling and salvaging. Generally, analyzer systems consist of cast metal cases and stainless steel wetted parts. Lack of precious and semi-precious metals in analyzer systems and their small size relative to abandoned process equipment, usually make recycling and offsite salvaging unprofitable. Because of this, worn out or obsolete analyzer systems frequently can be used for spare parts. The analyzer engineer should check with the tax accountant before doing so.
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