Continuous Monitoring of Fire Suppresion Systems

The regulations are not extensive enough to deal with the risks presented in gaseous systems. In ISO 14520 which is the “gold standard” of clean agent fire suppression system, clauses in the regulations explains that the storage container contents shall be checked at least every six months as follows. : a) Liquefied gases: for halocarbon agents, if a container shows a loss of agent in quantity of more than 5 % or a loss of pressure (adjusted for temperature) of more than 10 %, it shall be refilled or replaced. b) Non-liquefied gases: for inert gas agents, pressure is an indication of agent quantity. If a container shows a loss of agent quantity or a loss of pressure (adjusted for temperature) of more than 5 %, it shall be refilled or replaced. Essentially, the regulations highlight the need for periodic maintenance because it is known  that the gaseous systems leak and need to be  periodically checked. Given that the gaseous systems are designed specifically to the individual need of that enclosure, a 5% loss of agent may mean that they would not fully extinguish the fire.

Coltraco have developed a fixed fire suppression monitoring device, the Permalevel® MULTIPLEX which is designed for permanent contents

verification. The continuous monitoring system  utilises ultrasound technology to detect the level of contents non-invasively and transmits the level information from the wired sensors to the main unit which is then processed and reported to the building’s BMS or local control panel wirelessly through TCP/IP. This is to  ensure  that fire  suppression  systems  are  always   stored at their designed concentration and that no accidental discharge has occurred, which could affect the effectiveness of the overall fire protection system in the event of a fire. The neglect of continuous monitoring - of the fundamental protection provided by the gaseous extinguishing systems - is to the peril of the lives of occupants of the premises and at the risk of  causing financial and reputational loss to the facility comprising the critical infrastructure.

The  system developed  utilises the Internet of Things (IoT) to achieve its full potential of visualising the monitored contents worldwide. IoT enables a worldwide transmission of data starting from sensor to sensor to the microprocessors and to the facilities manager or maintenance team. Instead of waiting for annual checks,  owners and building managers can now identify any changes to their installed fire suppression system contents in real time and dispatch their servicing or maintenance team as soon as notification is received about a change happening to the installed system. This is now entirely possible through the reliance on recent IoT developments.

Portalevel® MAX INDUSTRIAL Pharmaceutical Applications

The desire to live longer and healthier is a pillar of modern life. Hence the demand for healthcare data, advanced therapies and ever quicker reacting cures in the pharmaceutical industry is so high. The UK is at the forefront of the global pharma sector. Health is a crucially important social and economic asset, and in the past 60 years, innovation and technology have driven huge improvements in global health. With the advances in knowledge comes the advances in manufacturing, with pharmaceutical companies manufacturing six times the average company in the UK. The scale of demand and the free market forces the manufacturing process to become smarter. One way to increase efficiencies is to improve the safety and maintenance of plants. Coltraco Ultrasonics are proud to be assisting British companies in the production of life changing medicine.

A British pharmaceutical company - one of the largest in the world - approached Coltraco for an innovative solution to aid their manufacturing process. Coltraco received a request from one of their manufacturing plants in Ireland, which produces active ingredients that are used in drugs to treat cancer, Parkinsons and Depression. At this plant, a mix of ammonia and water is delivered to the site in Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBCs): reusable storage tanks which commonly carry circa 1,040 litres. This ammonia is required at the pharmaceutical plant to breakdown manufacturing by-products before they are then safely incinerated.

Previously, the company had been monitoring the ammonia contents through a physical dip stick measurement on the tank, because of a lack of confidence in the internal IBC monitoring systems. However, the fumes given off by ammonia are irritating and corrosive, and can cause burning to the nose, throat and respiratory tract which poses a severe health risk for the engineers. Opening the top valve for the physical dip stick measurement also creates risk of contamination to the ammonia. For this reason, the pharmaceutical company asked Coltraco to deliver a new way to non-invasively monitor the contents within the IBCs.

A Coltraco Engineer visited the site to conduct technology suitability trials. A survey of several of the IBCs was conducted, and it was noted that some of the containers were partially full or fully empty. From this, the Engineer determined the general range for a full and empty state across 7 of the IBCs (as shown in the table below). Trials conducted by the Engineer indicated that Coltraco has the real opportunity to provide a solution for this application. Because of the flexibility and adaptability of Coltraco Ultrasonics’ current technological range, an indication was given that there was the capability to deliver a lasting and efficient solution to this problem.

Ultrasonics was the solution chosen by Coltraco, who are experts in this technology stream, to be a non-invasive, robust, easy to use avoiding the risk of harm to the site engineers. Coltraco’s equipment is designed to improve safety and best practice, ensuring the equipment used by crew/technicians/engineers to conduct such inspections is accurate and calibrated is a necessary one. For this reason, Coltraco calibrated their Intrinsically Safe Platform to application specific purposes. This was set to – 0 = LIQUID 100 + = Air. The Intrinsically Safe Platform was designed to operate in specific environment where the presence of potentially dangerous gases can be experienced.

The solution offered unparalleled accuracy and clarity of indication: the Portalevel Max Industrial  ultrasonic liquid level indicator. It provides fast operation with 30 second servicing, is accurate up to the true liquid level of 1.5mm and is Zone 1 ATEX Certified and UL Approved.  The unit requires no input from the on-site engineer apart from the simple application of the sensor to the vessel wall. This protects the operator from the health and safety problems that were presented through manual monitoring, as well as increasing efficiency.

The delivery of a solution to the pharmaceutical company allowed the operators of the plant to safely, quickly and accurately monitor the contents within the ammonia vessels. These vessels are integral to the operation of the plant as a whole. This unit is also cost efficient, reducing the amount of partially empty ammonia cylinders returned before emptying, increasing efficiency, and saving the organisation money over time. The Portalevel Intrinsically Safe builds on Coltraco Ultrasonics’ 30 years’ experience in designing, manufacturing and supporting ultrasonic liquid level indicating (ULLI) equipment, operating in 109 Countries and numerous market sectors and environments. The development program was born out of the desire to further improve Coltraco’s existing 9 Portalevel® liquid level indicator designs and taking on board feedback and opinions of their customers.

Portalevel® MAX Intrinsically Safe

“Safety is becoming recognised as an area in mining which must no longer be overlooked. The industry is beginning to opt for more regular inspections and even continuous 365 day monitoring of fire safety suppression installations. The ability to monitor autonomously, with remote diagnostics and remote relay which can provide an alarm to the Fire Safety Officer or Facilities Manager, provides confidence in the integrity of the system. Minimising mining fire risk, in the long run, can improve business continuity, save downtime and also the potential costly pay-out which fire damage entails.” – Coltraco Ultrasonics

Coltraco Ultrasonics are excited to announce that their Portalevel® Intrinsically Safe which will be coming soon. The ATEX Zone 1 approved liquid level indicator is specifically designed to operate in environments where the presence of potentially dangerous gases can be experienced. In mining the maintenance of gaseous extinguishing is integral, as fire can be devastating. The Intrinsically Safe unit can services a cylinder in under 30 seconds non-intrusively, with accuracy to off the true liquid level. Find out more at

Features of Ultrasonic Watertight Integrity and Hatch Cover Testing System

Portascanner® WATERTIGHT is basically multiple cable transit areas testing device,which is highly efficient in performing the job.

Function of Portascanner® WATERTIGHT

By placing the Ultrasonic Generator inside the compartment can help you test it easily. Via receiver, the operator points the sensor into every direction along the seal under inspection. The defected areas can be easily identified in regards to the connected headset and digital display and immediate action can be taken in regards to solve the issue.

  • Gives off better and accurate results in comparison to host testing which is possible after loading in case requirement is there.
  • Online Training Videos and DVD are available with equipment for effective, easy and quick usage of the product.
  • Capable for identifying leak sites which are small that 1mm diameter along with full Classification Society Approval, this device is perfect and flawless.
  • Consider best for scuttles, hatch cover testing, bulkheads, watertight doors, cable transits and any watertight compartments.
  • Magnets fit to ultrasonic generator due to which the operators do not have to climb up and down the ladders in order to place generator on the tank top.
  • Most importantly, it is quite faster and accurate than chalk testing and hose testing.
  • It is portable and really lightweight which permits the equipment to be transported, operated and carried with comfortable.
  • In respect to door seals, it is difficult to identify with chalk tests so accurately and confidently as Portascanner™ II is capable of.

Room Integrity and Compartmentation

Room Integrity is often an overlooked aspect of a clean agent installation whereby it is required that the concentration of the clean agent meets the sufficient “Hold Time” when discharged in a room in order to properly extinguish fires. Achieving this “Hold Time” is largely dependent on the overall leakage in the room otherwise referred to as the “Equivalent Leakage Area” or ELA in the industry. The most common and widely accepted way of determining whether the enclosure achieves the sufficient “Hold Time” for the agent is by carrying a Door Fan Test (DFT). This involves pressurising and depressurising the enclosure to check if it achieves the pass rate and if the enclosure fails the test, the presence of leaks are the common contributors to this failure. The industry introduces various methods to identify these leaks which are then patched up before the DFT is being conducted again. What is an often-neglected fact is that  as a buildings age or their internal use is changed, leak sites will begin to develop. If the gas cannot be held in the confined space on discharge during a fire event, the probability of its suppression diminishes in  proportion to the size of the leak sites. Clean agents are designed to operate in limited spaces where there is a need for speed of suppression given the asset risk and where the space is occupied by people. They must be easily maintained in-situ, non-flammable and non-toxic. They must comply with ISO 14520 and NFPA 2001 standards demanding fast discharge in 10 seconds and fire extinguishing within 30 seconds, delivering confidence to the operator that it delivers “best fire safety practise”. .

Despite DFT being a reliable method to determine the “hold time”, methods to locate the leak sites themselves are inaccurate such as the use of smoke pencils or draught testing using the back of a hand. The limitations of the DFT often lie in the fact that the leakage areas are only identified during installation of the clean agent system and make no acknowledgement to the fact that additional leak sites may develop throughout the lifetime of a building.

In the event of fire, a pencil sized hole between compartments size 6m x 6m x 3m would take just 4 minutes before a person would not be able to see their hand due to smoke. If this compartment was a fire escape, there could be a severe threat to life if people cannot escape. Thus it is clear to see why the maintenance of the integrity of the compartments is essential to genuinely aid the safety to human life.  As building age or their internal use is changed leak sites develop and the threat to people becomes high

Coltraco Ultrasonics have provided a smart solution for quick and easy assurance of compartmentation and leak detection. The proprietary device known as the Portascanner® 520 ultrasonic leak detector uses ultrasonic technology to not only pinpoint precise leak locations, but to determine their leak apertures as small as 0.06mm with a tolerance of +/-0.02mm, and is by far the most mathematically proven accurate device for this function.

Hatches leak for a variety of reasons, but mainly because of poor maintenance or failure to seal them properly after loading.

 A watertight hatch cover is designed to prevent the passage of water in either direction under a head of water for which the surrounding structure is designed.  Many mariners may think hatches are robust, monolithic structures, thereby failing to appreciate the small tolerances on panel alignment and gasket compression. It is better to think of hatches as complex, finely-made structures, to be handled with care. All types of seals, experience dynamic stresses as part of their operational lifetime. For example, 4mm wear on the steel-to-steel contact is sufficient to damage rubber sealing gaskets beyond repair; 5mm sag along the cross-joint can cause a large gap between the compression bar and gasket.

The risk is worsened by the ageing nature of many bulk carrier ships in particular. There is also a degree of bending/deformation that naturally occurs in ships during travel, which puts pressure on hatch covers and can damage sealing. A recent wave of inexperienced crew members has swept across the shipping industry as a cost-saving mechanism, leaving vessel maintenance and hatch cover testing to decrease in quality. While hatch covers are often perceived as indestructible due to their large size and bulky exterior, in reality they are complex, finely made structures that need to be handled with care, a point that many mariners do not realise.

The case study of the Emma Maersk exemplifies the danger of improper servicing. A severe leakage occurred on the container ship in February 2013 when it was loaded with 14,000 containers. The leakage was caused because of a mechanical break-down of a stern thruster, creating the shaft tunnel to flood, as well as leading to severe ingress of water in the aft part. Eventually there was flooding of the main engine room. This was because of non-effective cable penetration sealings, in a sudden blast, four cable penetration sealings in the watertight bulkhead gave way to the water pressure followed by a massive ingress of seawater. Shortly after this, the other three cable penetration sealings also failed, resulting in an even larger ingress of water into the engine room. This led to approximately USD 45 million worth of damages and towage cost.

The use of UT is far more efficient than the traditional methods described in the previous section, taking less time and requiring no clean up while being in a portable, light-weight model for ease of use. Due to its convenience, UT tests can be conducted more frequently and can contribute to safety management and preventative maintenance procedures on board.

hatch covers testing

For further information, contact Coltraco Customer Service

How to improve the reliability of fire suppression systems

Too often in the fire industry it feels like the certification is driving the maintenance, with its insurance consequence for the asset owner and service revenue for the contractor, rather than maintenance [for safety sake] driving its consequential certification. The ‘ungoverned space’ is the area in the fire industry where either the regulations or the protecting systems of the critical infrastructure are not effectively providing consistent and reliable safety.

People expect, and rightfully so, that in the event of a fire the extinguishing systems would be in full working order to do just that – extinguish. Given that the gaseous systems are designed specifically to the individual need of that room, building e.t.c, then a leak sites in the room could meant that the comparted area couldn’t withhold the fire. The likelihood of the gaseous system effectively extinguishing the fire gets lower and lower as the protected area becomes larger than the size that the extinguishing system was designed for. This is not a game of chance. The lives of people depend upon it.

Although many in the fire industry work towards meeting better standards, in their experience, Coltraco have numerous concerning anecdotes of non-compliance: systems portrayed and installed by contractors as NOVEC 1230 but filled with sand or water… room integrity testing with questionable results and with the room integrity remaining un-monitored after testing.

Technology now exists to improve the reliability of fire suppression systems that affects the safety of all who inhabits the building it protects in an event of fire. Regulations which often govern the quality of fire safety systems installed should hence reflect the latest advancement of technological innovations in its industry in order to uphold fire safety to its highest standards.

Portascanner® WATERTIGH

The Portascanner® WATERTIGHT is made up of a generator and receiver. The receiver is capable of receiving the signals and conversion is made which results into the indication of W/T integrity. Portascanner® WATERTIGHT is multiple cable transit areas testing device.

What is in the Portascanner® Watertight package?

It consists of extension rod connector, Gain 1,2,3, Volume Up and Down Buttons, LCD Visual Display, Mode, On and Off Buttons and Headphone Connection. It is tuned for detecting the particular frequency of ultrasound ways.

  • It possesses audio and visual outputs.
  • Sensor rod is attached to it, a user can scan the seal at close range.
  • LCD screen shows the visual output of detected signal.
  • The visual data received can be converted to decibels (dB) reading which is perfect to be tested to certification society standards.
  • Bar graph representation is also available.
  • With standard jack of 3.5 mm, a headphone is attached to the receiver to receive audio signals.

The operation of  the generator of the cable transit watertight areas testing is mentioned below:

  • It is placed on one side of the sealed compartment and turned on.
  • Sensor rod is utilized to scan the seal by user, standing on the other side of the compartment
  • Increased signal strength will be shown apparently for leak sites.
  • The numerical display and volume of audible signals can easily show the strength of the signals received by the receiver.

Why the industry is failing to comply with ISO 14520

Would you enter a building if you were told as you stepped in that in the event of a fire there was a chance that the extinguishing system wouldn’t put it out because the fire couldn’t be contained?

No! People expect, and rightfully so, that in the event of a fire the extinguishing systems would be in full working order to do just that – extinguish. Given that the gaseous systems are designed specifically to the individual need of that room,

building e.t.c, then a leak sites in the room could meant that the comparted area couldn’t withhold the fire.

The likelihood of the gaseous system effectively extinguishing the fire gets lower and lower as the protected area becomes larger than the size that the extinguishing system was designed for. This is not a game of chance. The lives of people depend upon it. Enough is enough. The technology exists right now to support Door Fan Testing in providing a holistic and thorough integrity test of critical infrastructure.

Key Facts

  • Compartmentation = fire stopping e.g. walls and floors
  • Every 7 seconds, a fire breaks out, worldwide
  • 700 fatalities caused by fire in the UK
  • £7bn is the cost of fire to the UK economy according to GovUK: every day £3.4m in costs by business disruption caused by fire - £1.3bn p.a.
  • 44% of all insurance claims are caused by fire
  • SOURCE: Aviva Insurance, 2012

Regulatory Requirements un-Ravelled


The regulations demand that compartmentation is upheld for the safety of the individuals, who entrust their lives into its integrity. Approved document B, Fire Safety, Volume 2, Buildings other than dwelling house states that: 8.0 Every compartment wall should form a complete barrier to fire between the compartments they separate. 8.35 – any stairway or other shaft passing directly from one compartment to another should be enclosed in a protected shaft so as to delay or prevent the spread of fire between compartments. However, despite regulations best effort to promote the implementation of compartmentation and room integrity, the last review of the Building Regulations Approved Document B was made in 2006 (12 years ago) and its next review was not due to be completed until 2022 (which would then be a gap of 17 years), meaning that the attention that is deserved is often disregarded.

  • ADB B3-4 “the building shall be designed… so that the unseen spread of fire and smoke… is inhibited”
  • Appendix B Breaching fire separation “to ensure effective protection again fire, walls and floors providing fire separation must form a complete barrier, with an equivalent level of fire resistance provided to any openings such as doors, ventilation ducts, pipe passages or refuge chutes.”


We will lead with some extracts from the regulations which is why this paper argues that the industry is sometimes minimally compliant or even non-compliant due to a lack of understanding of fire systems and their connection to compartmentation. This paper calls for a more holistic approach to fire safety. The author suggests the need for a resident mathematician to assist the industry.

  • The storage container contents shall be checked at least every six months. a) Liquefied gases: for halocarbon agents, if a container shows a loss of agent in quantity of more than 5 % or a loss of pressure (adjusted for temperature) of more than 10 %, it shall be refilled or replaced.
  • At least every 12 months it shall be determined whether boundary penetration or other changes to the protected enclosure have occurred that could affect leakage and extinguishant performance. If this cannot be visually determined, it shall be positively established by repeating the test for enclosure integrity in accordance with Annex E.
  • Where the integrity test reveals increased leakage that would result in an inability to retain the extinguishant for the required period, remedial action shall be carried out.
  • A.3.2 Engineered systems: need information and calculations on the amount of extinguishant;
  • Annex F - b) Every 6 months: Perform the following checks and inspections: 5) for liquefied gases, check weigh or use a liquid level indicator to verify correct content of containers; replace or refill any showing a loss of more than 5 %;
  • Annex F Means shall be provided to indicate that each container is correctly charged.

The assumptions in these are that gaseous extinguishing/suppression systems do leak. The regulations that underpin the pursuit of them explore their leak identification every 6 months. Gaseous extinguishing/suppression systems however are installed to protect special hazards in critical infrastructure as their key objective. If the hazard is special and the infrastructure critical then this is the case for the constant monitoring of the suppression systems that aim to deliver the protection of them.

Meeting minimum fire standards is not enough

As the CEO of Coltraco Ultrasonics I am dedicated to ensuring our technology solves industry problems. Not only to become a successful business in terms of profitability but in terms of sustainability and genuinely offering service to the industry in order to reduce risk, improve safety and hopefully have a small part in saving lives. We have provided a smart solution to quick and easy assurance of compartmentation using ultrasound to detect signal leaking through any apertures within the barriers.

The technology exists right now to solve this problem.  

In 2017 with the continuing developments in technology, and following the ongoing inquiry into the Grenfell tragedy, there is an expectation that safety should be all encompassing. We cannot let this expectation continue to be a fantasy.

Fire Incidences at Sea

Gaseous extinguishing installations are difficult systems. There are few who understand them in all their complexity. Vessels extinguishing installations are its essential defence against the risk of fire at sea. The main factor that needs to be understood is that they must be able to actuate, or release their gas, in the event of a fire. Surely an extinguishing instillation should extinguish? This may seem like an obvious point, but on further investigation the difficulties with this statement arise. What if the extinguishing instillation cannot actuate fully because there isn’t enough gas within the cylinder? Gaseous extinguishing systems are highly pressurised, the risk of leaking and discharging is accepted as part of their use, shown in the regulations that demand their upkeep e.g. IMO SOLAS FSS Ch5. :

“Means shall be provided for the crew to safely check the quantity of the fire extinguishing medium in the container”

Often this is misunderstood, this code specifically states that the crew must test their extinguishing installations in between the periodic inspection, maintenance and certification. Only having the annual inspection by accredited marine servicing companies is not enough – the crew must take responsibility for its own fire protection.  However, what must be noted is that the crew are often not trained or certified to shut-down, dismantle, weigh and re-install the gaseous cylinders.

Adding to this, the details of their leakage within the regulations which is troubling. ISO 14520-1 clearly states that:

If a container shows a loss of agent quantity or a loss of pressure (adjusted for temperature) of more than 5 %, it shall be refilled or replaced

Given that the gaseous systems are designed specifically to the individual need of the vessel then a 5% loss of agent may mean that they would not fully extinguish the fire. In a recent article by the Maritime Executive, Captain Madden urged crews to routinely and properly inspect and test fixed firefighting systems; “too often they are found with… concerns about leakage”. The only way to determine a cylinder is free from leakage is to check its contents. But if the crew cannot weigh their own cylinders, because they are not certified to do so, then how is it possible?

CO2 UK Marine Equipment Directive (MED) UK/EU legislation with US Coast Guard Mutual Recognition

Means should be provided to verify the liquid level in all the cylinders, either by weighing the cylinders or by using a suitable liquid level detector.”

Case Study: Carnival Cruises sought Coltraco Ultrasonics’ expertise

Ships sink; fires happen”. Addressing these two main causes of vessel loss are critical, especially when all owners and managers are seeking to reduce risk, cut costs and surge on safety. Carnival Cruises chose to protect their fleet by improving fire safety. One aspect of this is that they chose Coltraco Ultrasonics to be their supplier for the Portalevel® MAX Marine which tests the CO2 fire installations onboard for leaks in content.

How can a Ultrasonic Level Indicator assist the food industry?

Global population rise is placing more pressure on our food supplies. In the UK alone the expected rise in population to 70 million is leading the food manufacturing industry to grow: 140,000 new recruits expected by 2024. The need for efficiency in the supply of the food manufacturing industry is integralto meet the ever increasing market demands. With food & drink contributing to £28.2 billion to the UK’s economy the biggest manufacturing sector in the country, the demand for high quality products has resulted in an industry demand for high quality production and management systems. One such British company to answer this call is Coltraco Ultrasonics who are dedicated to designing and producing scientifically and mathematically accurate, ergonomic, innovative,  technology which is designed to improve maintenance and safety management systems.

A food processing factory based in the South of the UK approached Coltraco after having difficulty with their containment of mayonnaise. The company produce coleslaw, packaged salads and pastas for the likes of McDonalds, Tesco, Morrisons and Lidl, producing over 130,000 pots of coleslaw a day. The company faced difficulty in monitoring the contents of its mayonnaise and Coltraco offered a solution to this problem. The mayonnaise used for the coleslaw is contained in 2.2. metres high, 5mm stainless steel cylinders. However, the monitoring method that the factory used to check usage and remaining contents was through employees manually using ladders to peer into the cylinder and make an assumption of how much was left. Three issues come with this method: potential contamination of the mayonnaise; inaccurate measuring methods;  health and safety risk to the operator.

The Food Standards Agency and the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) supplies strict stringent regulations about contamination. There could be a high risk if there was contamination, for example from allergens and pathogens. This is a principle as required by EU Food Hygiene Rules. It was this issue that the food production company wanted to mitigate, and wanted to apply our technology to help adhere to their HACCP to mitigate any food safety problems.

After a site visit was conducted by Coltraco Engineers, a liquid level indicator was supplied to the company. This technology, the Portalevel® MAX Industrial, efficiently, quickly and accurately gauges the liquid level of the mayonnaise within the vessel using non intrusive, ultrasonic technology which emits no radiation. The implementation of the Portalevel® MAX Industrial, allows the plant to run more efficiently and reduces risks by providing staff with a means of accurately and non-invasively monitoring the contents within the mayonnaise tank negating the need for physical inspection using ladders.

The Portalevel® MAX Industrial builds on Coltraco Ultrasonics’ 30 years’ experience in designing, manufacturing and supporting ultrasonic liquid level indicating equipment, in 108 Countries and numerous market sectors and environments. The development program was born out of the desire to further improve on Coltraco’s existing 8 designs and taking on board feedback and opinions of our customers.

Furthering to the needs of the food processing factory, the trial and implementation of this unit suggested that Coltraco could develop a fixed monitoring system for this vessel type and others like it, in order to non-invasively, continuously monitor the contents of the condiments within the tank. This builds upon the technology that Coltraco has designed for fire safety. The Permalevel® Multiplex is the first system worldwide that is capable of monitoring the liquid level of critical fire suppression cylinder systems on a constant basis. It gives a facility total visibility on the real-time status of all their critical fire systems. Using their innovation and ability to adapt technology to customer required situations, Coltraco are developing the Permalevel® Multiplex to continuously monitor the contents within the tanks, so that the food processing company can be alerted when the contents drops below a set level, thus improving efficiency, with simple and easy use for their team.

Coltraco offers the ultrasonic liquid level Indicator in reasonable prices without any compromise on quality.

How The Portalevel® Max Marine can Protect Your Passenger Vessel

Carnival Cruises chose Coltraco to supply the Fleet with the UL-Listed and ABS approved Portalevel® MAX Marine. The Carnival Fleet is made up of 25 vessels, varying in size from 70,000-120,000 dwt, accounting for 21% of the worldwide cruise market. The safety of their ships is integral for the continuation of their business success. Catastrophic risks to human life, vessel, reputation and revenue all result from a fire event onboard. With 22 million people travelling on cruises in 2014 and the demand for cruising increasing by 68% since 2007, it’s essential that the safety of the fleet allows public demands to be met.

Incidences of fire on ships have been increasingly reported. In 2016, a couple who were travelling on the Estrella Amazonica tragically lost their lives after an uncontrolled fire broke out due to a lack of appropriate equipment and a failure to follow safety protocols. It’s this failure to ensure the safety of passengers which the Carnival Cruise line chose to mitigate by selecting Coltraco’s Portalevel® MAX.

Gaseous extinguishing systems are highly pressurised, the risk of leaking and discharging is accepted as part of their use, shown in the regulations that demand their upkeep e.g. IMO SOLAS FSS Ch5. The systems are pressurised approximately 24-29 bars, higher than a standard cup of water which is 1bar. It’s accepted that these systems are not passive but dynamic, thus requiring monitoring. The traditional method requires turning the system off, dismantling and manually weighing each cylinder on industrial scales. Routine maintenance is liable to be overlooked because the crew is unqualified to test or insufficient attention is given by the owner of the system. It’s neglected to the peril of the lives of occupants of the ship and at the risk of crippling financial and reputational loss to the cruiseliner.

Innovative methods of inspecting leaking cylinders with ultrasonics, enables identification in under 30 seconds using Portalevel® with one person, instead of the traditional 15 minutes, with two people labouriously weighing. Using ultrasonic technology - to pinpoint the liquid level of suppressant agent in the cylinders of the extinguishing system- testing is quicker and easier.

The MAX Marine is designed primarily for maritime applications where either third party service companies or the vessels’ crew themselves inspect large fire suppression systems of up to 600 cylinders. The ease of operation in comparison to weighing, increases the ability of more regular and frequent checks, improving fire safety management onboard. Portalevel® MAX enables its users to go above and beyond minimal regulations compliance, thus becoming industry leaders

Advantages with Coltraco Ultrasonics Limited

Coltraco Ultrasonics has introduced the Portapipe®, which is a portable ultrasonic piperwork integrity test indicator. Coltraco Ultrasonics was founded in 1987. Coltraco Ultrasonic specialise in producing one of the outclass range ofultrasonic flow meter, ultrasonic liquid indicator, ultrasonic bearing indicator, ultrasonic gaseous constant monitoring system, ultrasonic thickness gauge, hatch cover tester, ultrasonic pipework integrity test indicator and semi fixed watertight integrity test system.

Three Advantages with Coltraco Portapipe®

World Class Accuracy

The most mathematically accurate unit of its type locating a 1mm leak site via visual and audible readings and identifying its extent with a definitive numerical result. This device can test for faults and leaks in 10-50mm diameter pipe, 1mm up to 12m range and 1mm+ at longer range.

Quick and Convenient

It is a simple solution with few limitations and easy to learn how to operate. One person if required handles the testing done through this ultrasonic pipework integrity test indicator.Giving a thorough corrosion evaluation over a short period of time.

Comprehensive Analysis

Evaluation of multiple different areas along the pipe is possible with ultrasonic inspection. This increases the reliability in the pipeline analysis, thereby giving a better picture of problems areas in the system.

Technical Specifications of Portalevel® MAX INDUSTRIAL

PortalevelR MAX INDUSTRIAL non-invasively verifies the contents of cylinders and tanks holding liquids, suitable for a range of industrial purposes e.g. food processing, aerospace manufacturing, pharmaceutical and transformers. It is the 8th generation and qualifies to be a portable ultrasonic liquid level indicator.

Technical Specifications of Ultrasonic Level Indicator


  • Height: 160 mm (6.29 inches)
  • Width: 82 mm (3.22 inches)
  • Depth: 30 mm (1.18 inches)
  • Weight: 300 grams (10.58 ounces)

Verifiable Agents

  • Mayonnaise
  • Ammonia
  • Transformer oil


  • 2 x sensors – one dry sensor with standard
  • One dry sensor for standard applications
  • One special applications sensor with higher efficiency for more power output


Within 2% of true value (dependent on application)


LCD backlit display

Power Supply

1 x PP3 9V battery (battery life 10 hours)


  • Main Unit: 3 Years Warranty
  • Sensor: 1 Year Warranty
  • Lifetime Customer Support

Operating Temperature

-20°C to +70°C (68°F to 158°F)

Package Contents of Portalevel Max Industrial

  • Main unit
  • 2 x Multi Application Sensor
  • Ultrasonic gel
  • Carrying case
  • Sensor set cables
  • Calibration certificate
  • Instruction manual
  • Portatherm

Supporting the Developing Renewables Sector

Coltraco Ultrasonics are proud to see the developments in the wind energy and to be a part of the UK’s renewable energy sector via work supporting leading wind turbine operator to improve their fire safety through an ultrasonic liquid level indicator, the Portalevel® MAX. Coltraco Ultrasonics provide smart Safesite® solutions which enable wind turbine owners and operators to improve their fire safety management and reduce the risks to human life, business continuity caused by any downtime and thus minimise risk to reputation.

In an interview with Shipping Watch, a major oil and gas company Statoil announced today that they plan to invest around NOK 100 billion in renewable energy from now until 2030. The first step will be the launch of the world's largest offshore wind farm.

Back in July 2014, Statoil decided to invest NOK 5.5 billion in the British offshore wind farm Dudgeon. The reason for the journey over the North Sea, where the interview takes place, is the inauguration of this now-finished wind farm. Since 2014, Statoil has declared its commitment to floating offshore wind, particularly the Hywind concept. As recently as this October, USD 25 million was invested in a Brazilian solar project.

Offshore wind has gone through several phases. In recent years, the technology has been undergoing a new phase, in which most parties have faith in it due to the huge price plunge of more than 50 percent. Beyond just efficiency gains, this has led to declining margins. But Statoil still expects to make sizeable profits when the farms are complete. "The risk in offshore wind is less than for oil and gas and the costs have been under significant pressure. We base our work on making actual returns on renewable energy of 9-11 percent," Sætre tells Verdens Gang.

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Are you protected from fire?

The tragic effects of the fire at Grenfell Tower are still resonating in society. The shocking event prompted acknowledgment that more has to be done to improve fire safety.

It is quite clear that minimal compliance with regulations is just not enough, and that the need to go above and beyond the standards exists for safety critical environments and high value assets. This haphazard approach is dangerous and often unknown to the users of the infrastructure.

There is an assumption that protecting buildings by installing fire extinguishing systems and covering the building with insurance is enough to provide full safety of a building. But this neglect and minimal understanding of the need for maintaining the fire extinguishing systems leads to only one thing, a gap in the protection of people, assets + facilities.

Simply put, the ‘ungoverned space’ is the area in the fire industry where either the regulations or the protecting systems of the critical infrastructure are not effectively providing consistent and reliable safety. Coltraco repeatedly push for this life-threatening issue to be dealt with, with specific regard to loss of contents in fixed fire extinguishing systems and need for improvements to room integrity testing.

To go above and beyond the regulations, building owners and managers must test and monitor their fire extinguishing systems to check for leakage. By using the ultrasonic liquid level indicator, the Portalevel ® MAX and/or the constant monitoring system the Permalevel® Multiplex, building owners and managers are able to exceed the standards and ensure that the gaseous extinguishing systems are able to extinguish in the event of the fire.

In a time when cost drives safety decisions, using either or both of these systems allows a company to reduce their insurance premiums without compromising the safety of lives, assets and infrastructure. The recommendation of using Portalevel® Max and Permalevel® Multiplex from insurers benefits them as to guaranteeing long-term top customers who aspire for improved safety.

As with many leaders in the fire industry, Coltraco are pushing for rapid action to be taken in protecting peoples lives. There is no room for the industry to fall back into old habits. The fire industry must lead the way to a safer future. Constant monitoring of Fair extinguishing systems and room integrity must be implemented, people’s lives depend upon it.

How can the Portasteele® CALCULATOR assist offshore safety management systems?

The Portasteele® Calculator is the first system of its kind.  By converting the liquid level height of CO2, NOVEC™ 1230, FM-200™and other liquefied gaseous readings taken with a UL-listed Portalevel® MAX, the Portasteele® Calculator is able to calculate the exact mass/weight of the agent inside any cylinder and caters mathematically for temperature variations. The Portalevel® MAX is an 8th generation ultrasonic liquid level indicator identifies the contents of CO2, FM-200®, NOVEC™1230, FE-13, FE-25 & FE-36, Halon and a variety of similar liquid gaseous fire suppression agents, as well as most oil and water based substances, amongst other special applications. Traditional contents checking involves manual dismantling and manually weighing the cylinders which is time-consuming (approx. 15 mins per cylinder), poses risks to breaking the manifold and connecting components and possible injury or even fatality to the personnel involved. Portasteele™ Calculator removes the risks and enables contents verification in approx. 60 seconds. Decreasing the time to regularly and effectively test cylinder agent weights, when paired with a liquid level indicator, Portasteele® reduces the inconvenience and costly man hours of testing.

The Portasteele® offers unparalleled efficiency and ease of maintenance. The Portalevel have been successfully deployed in both onshore and offshore applications including most of the North Sea’s 160 platforms.  Due to the flexible nature of software applications, the device can be even updated with improved editions in the future. The Portasteele™ Calculator provides an unparalleled solution to efficiently servicing gaseous extinguishing systems. The Portasteele™ Calculator is based on a stand-alone 7” tablet computer which makes calculations in real time, allowing the software to be used immediately in the field. There is more time to perform more frequent checks without the dangers of weighing, such as accidental explosive discharge, strain related injuries to crew and the great fire danger to an oil rig during testing when the system is disarmed. In the long term, the acquisition of Portasteele™ into offshore platforms, oil tankers etc. will improve overall safety and reduce cost associated with the maintenance of fire suppression systems. When these fire systems are properly maintained, the cost associated with fire damage is likely to reduce dramatically as we know fire damages on these hazardous environments are generally catastrophic to the asset, lives, environment and company reputation.

Portascanner® Watertight Integrity Tester

The Portascanner® Watertight is a watertight integrity tester, hatch cover maintenance and watertight integrity testing devices, multiple cable transit areas testing device, cargo-safe hatch cover tester. Coltraco have bene in the maritime sector for over 30 years; with equipment onboard 17% of the worlds fleet. Established by a former Royal Naval Submariner who went into commercial shipping and invented the Portalevel® for fire safety. Coltraco Ultrasonics’ mission is to deliver the Safeship®: combatting the 2 main causes of vessel loss which are 1. Sinking and 2. fire. Coltraco Ultrasonics do so through inspection products and continuous monitoring systems in watertight integrity and compartmentation testing and fire suppression systems integrity testing.

The use of Ultrasound is far more efficient than the traditional methods described in the previous section, taking less time and requiring no clean up while being in a portable, light-weight model for ease of use. Due to its convenience, Ultrasound tests can be conducted more frequently and can contribute to safety management and preventative maintenance procedures on board. Ultrasound can provide the sensitivity to detect the smallest leaks. The Portascanner® Watertight is a industry leading integrity tester.

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