Inspectioneering Journal

The Value of a Baseline Inspection on New Fired Heater Tubes

By Tim Haugen, Global Business Director - Inspection at Quest Integrity. This article appears in the September/October 2019 issue of Inspectioneering Journal.


A common practice employed in new construction and tube replacement projects is a baseline inspection of the fired heater coils. With the advent of smart pig technology, these baseline inspections have the ability to detect manufacturing defects that otherwise may go undetected. According to inspection findings, almost 85% of new fired heater tube inspections contain one or more defects exceeding the manufacturer’s design tolerance for minimum wall thickness (see Figure 1).

Owner-operators should not overlook this first step in coil integrity management. Besides the obvious reduction in a tube’s life expectancy, defects may lead to premature and unexpected failures causing harm to personnel, equipment damage, unscheduled shutdowns, and lost production.

As two case histories illustrate, knowing the condition of fired heater tubes before they are commissioned, either as part of a new expansion project or when replacements are made in existing heaters, may save a lot of headache in the future. The technology employed for these baseline inspections was FTIS (Furnace Tube Inspection System), which is a high resolution in-line ultrasonic smart pigging tool.

Figure 1. New Tube Inspection Results


This content is available to registered users and subscribers

Register today to unlock this article for free.

Create your free account and get access to:

  • Unlock one premium article of your choosing per month
  • Exclusive online content, videos, and downloads
  • Insightful and actionable webinars
Interested in unlimited access? VIEW OUR SUBSCRIPTION OPTIONS

Current subscribers and registered users can log in now.

Comments and Discussion

Posted by Justin Tomkins on November 4, 2019
Great article and examples of how a lack of data... Log in or register to read the rest of this comment.

Posted by Tim Haugen on November 4, 2019
Thank you, Justin! I'm happy you found the... Log in or register to read the rest of this comment.

Posted by Ike Asare on November 11, 2019
The retirement life formula in the article didn't... Log in or register to read the rest of this comment.

(Inspectioneering) Posted by Josh Means on November 12, 2019
Hi Ike, thank you for pointing out the issue with... Log in or register to read the rest of this comment.

Add a Comment

Please log in or register to participate in comments and discussions.

Inspectioneering Journal

Explore over 20 years of articles written by our team of subject matter experts.

Company Directory

Find relevant products, services, and technologies.

Training Solutions

Improve your skills in key mechanical integrity subjects.

Case Studies

Learn from the experience of others in the industry.


Inspectioneering's index of mechanical integrity topics – built by you.

Industry News

Stay up-to-date with the latest inspection and asset integrity management news.


Read short articles and insights authored by industry experts.

Expert Interviews

Inspectioneering's archive of interviews with industry subject matter experts.

Event Calendar

Find upcoming conferences, training sessions, online events, and more.


Downloadable eBooks, Asset Intelligence Reports, checklists, white papers, and more.

Videos & Webinars

Watch educational and informative videos directly related to your profession.


Commonly used asset integrity management and inspection acronyms.