Gazette review of the year


2013 has been a particularly successful year for Billingham based, Tracerco, part of the FTSE 100 Johnson Matthey PLC.

Not only has the company received an Institute of Physics Award for Innovation, it has also been nominated for a further two Engineers’ Choice Awards for LevelFinderPlus and the PED radiation monitoring device.

The IOP Innovation awards recognise companies that successfully commercialise cutting edge physics based technology. Tracerco has won this prestigious award for its ground-breaking LevelFinderPlus measuring device, which uses high technology to provide operators with accurate level measurement of liquids in vessels, even in the presence of deposit build-up and vapour density fluctuations. The patented technology, which is the first and only instrument able to make these measurements, provides unparalleled insight into vessel operating conditions.  Conventional level measurement systems can have errors of over 40% due to build up and vapour density fluctuations meaning that operators are unable to optimise processes, often leading to significant loss of production and potentially dangerous operating conditions.

Andy Hurst, Managing Director at Tracerco said “This is great testament to the outstanding physics innovation of the whole team. Our ethos is to strive for technical excellence in order to add value to our customers, and the LevelFinderPlus is an excellent example of how we apply science to overcome our customers’ most intriguing process challenges.”

The LevelFinderPlus is designed for liquid level, interface and density measurements as well as solids monitoring in upstream and downstream vessels. It is suitable for the most challenging oil, chemical and petrochemical industry applications. It provides accurate level measurement in the presence of build-up, reducing unplanned shutdowns, improved product quality, allowing process optimisation and operator confidence to increase production and maximise throughput.

Dr Ken James and Dr Paul Featonby attended a parliamentary reception in November to collect the award on Tracerco’s behalf. (Pictured). The event was sponsored by the Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable MP, who was speaking at the event together with the Institute’s President, Dr Frances Saunders.

The evening was attended by an invited audience of parliamentarians and leading representatives from across business, government and academia, and celebrated the success and impact of all winning innovations for each company, their clients and the wider economy. To learn more and view the video detailing Tracerco’s winning innovation go to
Despite becoming an award-winning business earlier this year and enjoying a visit to the Houses of Parliament to collect their trophy, Tracerco has continued their program of innovation completing trials on its much anticipated revolutionary new subsea inspection technology – Discovery. Two years in the making and representing multi-millions of pounds of investment in collaboration with leading Norwegian multinational oil and gas company, Statoil, Discovery is a ground-breaking and innovative CT Scanner that is expected to revolutionise the way the oil and gas industry monitor the integrity of its subsea piping systems.

Managing Director of Tracerco, Andy Hurst said, “2013 has been a fantastic year for us. Our subsea development team has worked tirelessly over the last 12 months to perfect the world-first technology behind our Discovery CT Scanner and ensure that the high resolution scan produces a high-quality, clear and concise picture of the condition of  subsea piping systems.

“Although we are only just launching our first generation model of Discovery, we are not  resting on our laurels and are already working in conjunction with Shell to develop Discovery’s second generation model which will be able to monitor pipelines in ultra-deep-water .  Once this model is ready next Spring, it will open us up to a wider market of customers.  In the meantime, we are planning on attending several major exhibitions in Australia and the USA as well as holding a series of bespoke invite-only workshops in Australia, America and Asia in order to take Discovery’s revolutionary inspection technology to potential clients across the world.”

In addition to experiencing what has been a very productive and rewarding 2013 in terms of product development Tracerco has also invested in a state of the art 61,000 square foot bespoke research and development facility which will act as a new headquarters for the global business as well as housing testing facilities and a rapidly expanding development team. Tracerco received investment from the ‘Let’s Grow’ programme, part of the £30 million regional Growth Fund in the form of a £1 million grant. The new building is expected to allow Andy added, “Our new building will provide us with a platform for innovation for Tracerco, enabling us to grow our measurement instruments business for the next decade. The new building will support the development of more unique and special diagnostic devices to help maintain our position as world leaders in our sectors. We pride ourselves on our commitment to research and development and the new centre will allow us to continue on our path to designing and creating innovative technologies for the oil and gas industry.”

“2013 has probably been one of the most satisfying, fulfilling and productive years for Tracerco that we have ever experienced. Not only have we seen our reputation within the subsea sector grow and flourish following our investment in Discovery, we have received recognition for a selection of our other innovative measuring devices from the prestigious  Institute of Physics and Engineers’ Choice Awards. However, with the official launch of Discovery taking place next year as well as our development team working hard on a collection of our other ground-breaking tools, we are all very excited to see what 2014 will bring.”

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