We think the ability to repair your phx21 LDAR analyzer is one of the most exciting parts of owning a phx21. While some other portable FID manufacturers get rich repairing their analyzers, we believe that creating value and growing with happy customers is the path to our success.

Let’s take a look at a typical phx21 repair.

Step 1. Report an issue at LDARtools.com. This report will include the serial number of the phx21, serial number of any on site replaceable part and a log file.

Step 2. An LDARtools Support Tech will contact you after reviewing the log file from your phx21. This log file records everything happening inside your phx21 every 2 seconds and allows us to make very accurate assessments of the health of any phx21. Let’s say your phx21 has a worn out pump and the phx21 pump is under warranty.

Step 3. LDARtools will send you a pump (almost always the same day!). The phx21 warranty even includes shipping to you.

Step 4. You receive the pump (kit shown on right) and install it using the procedure outlined in the manual (starts on page 3-6).

Step 5. When we send the replacement part, we also email a RMA for the pump. This gives return shipping instructions for the old broken part. Basically, you have 3 weeks to ship us this old part back.

Step 6. Celebrate! Not only is your phx21 back up and working, your repair was authorized by the manufacturer and your phx21 is still INTRINSICALLY SAFE!

Because we know that keeping your phx21 up and running is important to you, we try to do everything we can to maximize reliability and uptime. One of the things we do to maximize uptime is our warranty restart program. It goes like this, say you purchase spare parts from our KOS (Keep on Site) list but you don’t use them right away. Most companies would start the warranty on the shipment day, but not LDARtools. Simply shoot us an email with the serial number of the part you installed on the day you installed it, and we will reset your warranty for that part.

Questions? Just give us a call or click below to set up a demo. I am excited about how our customers are using the LDARtools products to change the LDAR industry and I am eager to share their stories with you.

In the beginning we called it fugitive emission monitoring. Gradually, the nomenclature evolved and we began calling it leak detection and repair or LDAR. Regardless of what we call it, the key to any successful program has been the technician: the man or woman charged with the duty of finding the fugitive emissions if they are there. The “detection” part of leak detection and repair is, for the most part, the result of the efforts and work practices of the technician.
THAT is where the value in an LDAR program is built.

The single most important factor that LDAR managers can implement in improving the performance of their fugitive emission program is generating feedback loops for the technicians. And, when it comes to LDAR, the shorter the feedback loop the better.

Assume that the technician is able to get to his first component within the site’s first component index (such as within 60 minutes of his payroll start time). Does he get feedback? Does anyone notice? Does anyone care? After the briefest of time, does even the best technician stop caring himself if he or she decides that no one else cares?

On the other hand, assume that the technician takes 10 minutes longer than the 60 minute index (because he drank an extra cup of coffee, visited a little longer about the controversial play in the Super Bowl, or decided to stop for a pastry at the vendor’s truck on the way to the unit). He took 70 minutes instead of 60 minutes. The same questions erupt: does he get feedback? Does anyone notice? Does anyone care?

Lunch time is another opportunity for excellence, mediocrity or downright neglect. If the site allots 60 minutes (from the morning’s last component to the afternoon’s first component), what happens if the technician takes 65, 70, 90 or 120 minutes? (Don’t kid yourself, it happens!)

The answer is: what happens is a function of whether or not the technician is getting feedback and, if so, what kind of feedback it is.

Here is where the software comes in. You know what a good, productive day looks like: first component in less than x minutes, morning and afternoon breaks in less than y minutes, lunch in less than z minutes and last component no later than 4:30 (fill in the right time for your site).

Now, your LDAR database knows which technicians achieved that level of productivity. Virtually every fugitive emissions program has been collecting that data for more than a decade. Your computer knows- do you? And do your technicians know that you know?
Not only does it know at the end of the day, that LDAR datalogger “knew” how effective your LDAR program was at the instant that each of these moments occurred. It “knew” if your technician was successful in getting to that first component. What did your software do if he failed? Did it ignore it? Or did it inform the technician that he had missed this important benchmark (that’s called feedback) and did it ask him (or her) to give a brief explanation for what had happened so that your site’s management team could learn from the experience and improve the process (that’s the best part of feedback).

The ideal fugitive emissions program would have a clear definition of success and an automated process for instantaneously generating feedback at each critical moment. That is the best way to ensure that your leak detection and repair program is constantly improving.
And then an automated, daily email to each person who cares about what happened that day.
Imagine that.


We call them Monitoring Technicians…

The point of an LDAR program is to monitor LDAR components: to determine whether or not they are leaking according to the process mandated by Method 21. That involves VOC detectors (such as the TVA-1000B and phx21), LDAR software, LDAR dataloggers and, more and more, LDAR Bluetooth adapters. At the heart of all of these LDAR instruments is the technician who relies on them to accomplish his, or her, monitoring activities. We call these folks LDAR Monitoring Technicians.

The vast majority of the expense of any LDAR program is the cost of providing training, payroll and benefits to these monitoring technicians. Unfortunately, the closer we look at the actual work day and practice of these technicians, the clearer that we can see how it might be more a little too hopeful to call them “monitoring technicians.”

Take a look at the technician’s typical day. (I realize that no day is typical because no plant and program dynamics are identical. But it is helpful to think, at least, about the nuances of what we are determined to call a “monitoring day.”)

Assume he works a 10 hour day. That’s 600 minutes. We assume a 15-minute break in the morning and a 15-minute break in the afternoon. But it takes the technician 5 minutes to get from the process unit (where he is monitoring) to the break area. And then 5 minutes to get back. This adds 10 minutes in the morning and then 10 minutes in the afternoon. That’s 50 minutes out, we are down to 550.

Many programs allow 30 minutes for lunch, with 15 minutes before and after to leave the process unit and then get back to it. There goes another 60 minutes, leaving 490.
The Tech’s payroll start time is 6:00. How long does it take him to get to his first component? Assuming that someone else has already calibrated his VOC analyzer. He has to get his handheld, assemble his gear, do a quick check on his equipment, meet with this Field Supervisor, perhaps there is a safety meeting, confirm his assignment, travel to the unit where he is assigned, secure a safe work permit, determine what his first component is and then find it. Rarely have we seen programs where the expectation is that this can routinely be done in less than 60 minutes. So our First Component Success target is set at 7:00am and the 490 is now reduced to 430 minutes.

The end of the day suggests a similar logic but usually with a smaller window owing to the fact that it is easier to stop almost any process than it is to initiate it. So the index for the end-of-day could be 45 minutes. That puts us down to (430-45=) 385 minutes.

65% of a 10-hour day, 385 minutes, is GONE and we haven’t monitored a single component.

…..And that is assuming that the technician is on time, motivated, quickly equipped, and aware of the urgency of each moment. It assumes that the morning procedure that is being managed by your site management is working seamlessly and the safe work permits are issued without delay. It assumes that the technician can quickly find the four milestone components (i.e. the first component that he monitors at the start of each monitoring session). It assumes that the technician is not tempted to stretch a break or lunch period by 2 minutes, or 10 or 20. It assumes that the technician’s equipment and software work as they were designed to: nothing breaks, no hydrogen supply or battery problems. It assumes that the technician either had GPS support when locating components, knows the unit like the back of his hand or has absolutely accurate location descriptions. And, finally, it assumes that the technician is determined to monitor until that critical end-of-day target (45 minutes prior to quitting time) rather than giving into the temptation to knock off a little (or a lot) early.

Imagine that: if everything works flawlessly day in and day out, days, weeks, months and quarters on end, you are still spending $35 out of every $100 for time during which NO ONE is even expected to monitor.

LDAR’s worst kept secret: you will be lucky to have only 35% wastage. It is likely that is far worse, UNLESS you have a tireless, seamless and disciplined site management process AND your monitoring technicians are all saints.

In the likely event that you don’t have such an optimal, 35% situation, the secret is in using the right software.

What that software can do will be the subject of our next blog.

Did you know that LDARtools has a web store? Our web store can be found at www.storeldar.com At Store LDAR we carry a variety of items used in the LDAR industry, LDAR dataloggers, the phx21 and much more.

We carry the phx21 and supplies for the phx21, such as, the Backpack-Deluxe (LDAR# 696), which makes a long day of monitoring a lot easier. We also carry phx21 common repair parts and supplies for the phx21. We have an entire category title “Keep on Site” which has a variety of parts and supplies that keep work going on site to limit time lost.

You might also be interested to know that we carry TVA parts as well. We carry the most common parts and supplies needed, such as, chargers (LDAR# 1063),  TVA Disc Filters (LDAR# 190) and pump diaphragms (LDAR# 338).

Need to do some short term monitoring? We also offer rentals on most of our equipment!

Come check us out today. Don’t forget to follow us on twitter (@ldartools) or Facebook to receive store specials.

As we have discussed in recent blogs, the advent of TVA wireless capabilities has triggered the introduction of much more powerful and flexible LDAR dataloggers to work along with the TVA-1000B and any other VOC detector. These enhanced fugitive emissions instruments have opened up the possibility of addressing and achieving a wide array of LDAR solutions.

One of the most important LDAR solutions involves being able better to understand the factors that are driving the cost of any LDAR program. In the past, it has been assumed that the facility owner was paying for in-house employees or contractor technicians to “monitor LDAR components.” The most experienced and perceptive LDAR managers have long recognized that the real cost of an LDAR program is not the time that it takes to monitor components, but the time that it takes to prepare to monitor, get to the components, identify the specific component that is next in the route, perform any required tag maintenance and then find the next component, not to mention the time required for permitting, safety updates, lunch, breaks and the end-of-day routine.

Looked at from this point of view, we can see that most of an LDAR technicians day is actually spent “not monitoring” even when her work is effectively organized and she is determined to operate at as high a level as possible. In the past, however, the only question that could be reasonably asked, at the end of the day, was “how many components did you get monitored?” For this reason (because it was just about all the data that was available) this was how we tracked technician performance and understood the nature of the expense.
Stated another way: it takes, perhaps, 2 minutes to monitor an LDAR component. But if it is the first component of the day, it could “take” 60-90 minutes, or more. And if the data does not lead the technician directly to the component or if GPS resources are not available, then it could take even longer. It is this extraordinarily long non-monitoring time that is the proper subject of the most diligent analysis.

With the new TVA wireless capability, which is also available for other VOC detectors (such as the phx21™), the LDAR datalogger can now easily record a wide array of information about the time that the technician is not spending monitoring components. How long are the lunch breaks? The technician knows. Do you? How long are the morning and afternoon breaks? How much time (and money!) is being spent on the end-of-day routine AFTER the last component is monitored?

Years of analysis demonstrate that the best technician actually spends less than half of a typical 10-hour day with her probe on an LDAR component. What is being done for those other hours and how can the program be improved to minimize this time? Asking the most important LDAR question is essential to finding the best LDAR solution.

The first step is to deploy fugitive emissions instruments (such as Bluetooth adapters and LDAR dataloggers) that can capture the data that you need.

The next step is to have the right LDAR software in the handheld and on the desktop. The right software on the handheld will help ensure that you collect the information that you need. While the right LDAR software on the desktop should help you mine the data to efficiently assess what the technicians were doing and how their work can be better organized to maximize the value of each LDAR dollar you are spending.

The first LDAR dataloggers were (are you ready for this?) 3/5 cards connected by brass rings. Seriously. How far have we come, since those ancient days? The first innovation was Lotus and then Excel Spreadsheets. Followed by printouts from computer programs that displayed tag numbers, identifying characteristics and location descriptions and provided a place to record the readings. Some technicians even used pencils (hence the horrifying term “pencil whipping.”)

Then came the first, bulky, cumbersome, unreliable LDAR dataloggers that ran a primitive monitoring interface program called MARS. We had an LDAR datalogger but not a very robust LDAR datalogging process. This was so because the MARS software was really nothing more than an automated rolodex of 3×5 card type data files on which all you could record was the reading: you “flipped” to the next component, found it, monitored it, recorded the reading on your datalogger and then “flipped” to the next component record.

But LDAR monitoring isn’t that easy now and it wasn’t that easy then. So whenever anything else happened (and lots of stuff happened) your LDAR datalogger became pretty much useless. If you couldn’t find the component, you just left the monitoring reading blank. The consequence of that was that, later, somebody else would have figured out what to do next: send another technician to try again, maybe?

Of if the tag had fallen off or you thought the ½ inch size should be 2 inches, or you could tell to a certainty that the component had been removed from service, or an operator told you that the valve was temporarily out of service and would be back in service in 3 days. What did you do? There are at least xx things that a technician can experience at a component other than simply monitor it. The old LDAR datalogging methodology was completely unresponsive to any of those events. The technician had to pull out a legal pad, pocket notebook and record the event for later reference or he simply ignored it and went to the next component.

(For a list of those non-monitoring events and to evaluate how effectively your program is managing them, click the image below.)

Human nature being what it was (and still is!) all too often the most reasonable thing to do was just ignore just about everything.

When we achieved the ability to electronically interface the analyzer with the datalogger via the famous AIMS cable, we were able to capture specific time and data stamps for each monitoring event. This represented a dramatic improvement in LDAR dataloggers. This increased reliability and simplified the process by removing the task of physically recording the reading. It increased accountability, presumably, by capturing the time and data stamp when the reading occurred and associating it with the reading.

But it did nothing else to facilitate the full scope of the technician’s responsibilities. The LDAR datalogger was not designed to routinize the capturing and management of all of the non-monitoring specific data. With the advent of the LDAR Bluetooth adapters, the industry was able to integrate much more powerful handhelds running far more sophisticated software. It is this software that paves the way for vast improvements. We will detail those improvements in our next blog.

While the comment you posted has been removed as it was not relevant to the topic, you did say you were having trouble with your phx21 and that we(the people behind the product) were not “loyal”. While I am not sure what you mean by loyal, we are eager to help you with your phx21 problems.

A portable FID is a very complex instrument and you will have occasional issues but we have nearly 300 in the field working and we have 2 in our shop being worked on. I am certain we turn you into a happy customer if you let us try.

Hopefully this message reaches you, as you did not leave a valid email address.

Please contact me immediately and I will make arrangements to visit you.

Kevin Moses
Director of Operations
primary 281.542.3108

The TVA-1000B Bluetooth Adapter has revolutionized the way LDAR technicians interact with the tag information and monitoring data that is at the heart of their responsibilities. Prior to the introduction of the Thermo TVA-1000B Bluetooth Adapter, the LDAR technician tpyically interacted with the tag and monitoring data through the use of the MARS software program on the LeakTragger datalogger. While is was the state-of-the-art for the LDAR Industry for more than a decade, MARS was really nothing more than an automated 3×5 card filing and recordation program.

With MARS, there was no ability to enhance, edit or improve the information. Tag maintenance information (information about new tags, tag changes or corretions to exising information) was either recorded on legal pads or pocket notebooks (for later research and then data entry) or it wasn’t done at all. While the TVA-1000B Bluetooth Adapter didn’t change this dynamic, per se, it did pave the way for the application of a full range of handheld dataloggers (PDAs) that offered the opportunity for far more sophisticated software programs.

The possiblity of these more advanced software programs opened the door for a complete re-engineering of the way LDAR Technicians interacted with the data. It also laid the foundation for a far more robust accountability system for the technicians and their work.  What had been unthinkable, before the technological breakthrough of the TVA-1000B Bluetooth Adapter, soon became mandatory: GPS assistance, one-step tag edits, real time technician protocols triggered by specific data events, seamless capture of delays, time gaps, monitoroing interruptions.

Each of these essential improvements flowed directly from the integration of new software and handheld dataloggers that were triggered by the arrival and adoption of the TVA-1000B Bluetooth Adapters.

In the beginning there were those who thought the primary benefit of the TVA-1000B Bluetooth Adapters would be to eliminate the aggravation and disruption of the old AIMs cable interface between the TVA and the LeakTracker. But for those who understood the industry the best, it was nothing less than an invitation to re-engineer the entire LDAR Industry.

In the earliest days of the LDAR Industry, there was the Foxboro OVA-108. It was an analog VOC analyzer that presented its PPM results on a dial that made getting a precise reading a lot like trying to tell time with a sun dial. In the fall of 1995, the momentum shifted toward the Thermo TVA 1000. Interestingly enough, it was not the fact that the Thermo TVA 1000 was a vastly superior analyzer that drove the dynamic. The TVA 1000 WAS a digital device along with being much easier to calibrate precisely. When Thermo released the TVA 1000B, with the capability of recognizing multiple calibration (span) points, the technological advantage of the TVA over the OVA was fully achieved.
But the market force that catapulted the Thermo TVA 1000 and 1000B to the undisputed LDAR Industry leader was the capability of interfacing it electronically with the LeakTracker hand held datalogger. By enabling the direct connectivity of the Thermo TVA 1000B with the LeakTracker via the AIMS cable, the integrated package brought about a sea change in the expectation that everyone had about how monitoring readings were generated, captured and labeled with time and date stamps calibrated to the precise second. These time/date stamps and the fact that they were generated automatically by the system (sometimes unbeknownst even to the technician) became the coin of the realm for LDAR program managers determined to shore up the integrity and reliability of their LDAR monitoring results.
Data recordation, management and integrity proved to be a far more compelling LDAR feature than the technological advantages that one analyzer possessed over another.
And so the pattern was set.
The Thermo TVA 1000B maintained its industry domination until the data recordation process experienced another sea change in 2007, when Bluetooth technology started to redefine the LDAR Industry. Almost overnight, the introduction of Thermo TVA 1000B Bluetooth Adapters ushered onto the scene a phalanx of successors to the LeakTracker. The primary selling point was no longer that you had a Thermo TVA 1000B- but that you had a Thermo TVA 1000B Bluetooth Adapter. The analyzer’s function and value was defined, almost, by how it communicated its result to the PDA that the technician was carrying.

And that changed everything.

Day-in and day-out, countless environmental professionals all over America are doing the essential work of the LDAR Industry. The owners of the facilities in which they are working, the contract organizations by whom they are employed and the children who breathe the air in the parks down the street are all relying on them to perform their duties with diligence and integrity.

The challenge of the LDAR Industry has always been that it was easier to allow yourself to think that the monitoring was done properly and thoroughly than it was to confirm that it was. The fact that a traditional LDAR database was fully populated with all the scheduled monitoring results was seen by far too many for far too long as sufficient evidence of compliance.

Boy, how things have changed.

The regulatory agencies have become far more sophisticated in their auditing procedures. The “appearance of compliance” no longer survives as a measure of program success. More robust
expectations and requirements have been codified in one EPA consent decree after another.

EPA Section 114 requests have given the regulators an important tool to dig deeper and faster into the mountain of data to look for those important signs that lead to confidence about the integrity of the program and its technicians.

At the same time, the advent of new technology such as the TVA 1000B Bluetooth and phx21 devices have laid the ground work for the facility owners and contractor management to mine the data much more quickly to make their own assessments and tailor their own efforts and responses to maximizing the level of compliance success. Nothing has done more for advancing the reliability of Method 21 efforts than the introduction of handheld computers that quickly followed the dawn of the LDAR Bluetooth age.

In future blogs, we will address and then focus on the advancements in LDAR compliance, confidence and efficiency that this new age of LDAR has made possible.