Improving Turnarounds Through Detailed Engineering
The ability to quickly evaluate equipment is critical for minimizing costs during Turnarounds. There is a wide range of opportunities for cost savings that a company can achieve during a Turnaround. In typical Turnaround scenarios, some equipment clearly must be replaced and some equipment can clearly remain in service. For other equipment, the engineering diagnosis is less clear, and decision-making in response to unplanned Turnaround findings should be focused on maximizing cost savings while preserving HSE risk levels. To this end, a detailed plan should be formulated for run/repair/replace decisions before and during a Turnaround.
“Damaged” Doesn’t Always Mean “Unsafe”
A common misconception is that, if inspectors find any damage, then the equipment is unsafe. It is well known that, even though corrosion, pitting, cracking, distortion, and thermal degradation have very sinister appearances, these conditions may actually represent little or no increased threat to the safe and reliable operation of the affected equipment. Combining tools and experience enables assessments to be made much more rapidly.
Making Sense In An Uncertain Situation
Too often a Turnaround team will be asked to quickly make a repair decision based on limited or incomplete inspection reports that offer only a partial understanding of the situation. In many of these cases, careful assessment of the equipment and damage may have better defined the severity of damage and helped in the decision-making process.
Our experts understand the unique requirements of the Turnaround environment. You need engineers who understand repair timing, critical-path implications, safety consequences, and the economics of Turnaround delays, and you need them on site and on pace with the rest of your team.
Implementing a “Triage-Style” Workflow
At Stress Engineering Services, we understand these challenges well and implement a triage-style workflow at our customers’ facilities. A team of our experienced engineers working on site with your engineers can streamline the workflow and minimize delays.
The focus of most equipment evaluations is to classify equipment into:
Category 1: Repair or Replace. In these cases, it is usually apparent that delaying maintenance would result in a hazardous situation. We focus on developing the most cost-efficient and time-efficient repair or replace strategy. At the same time, it is important to evaluate the root cause and consider ways to prevent the problem from recurring.
Category 2: Evaluate. Minimizing the time that components remain in this category is the primary job of the inspection and engineering group. The team may be able to immediately justify reclassifying, potentially saving multiple shifts of repair effort. In these cases, engineering and preparation can be of significant benefit, enabling rapid evaluation per API 579-1 and other codes.
Category 3: Safe to Return to Service. For equipment that needs no action, best practices include the reviewing engineer documenting the rationale behind the return-to-service decision and adding notes to the equipment file regarding any future maintenance. This does not indicate that flaws were not found in the equipment, but only that the damage was within acceptable limits. In some cases, it may be recommended to continue running with monitoring (e.g., AE or periodic inspection).
An Insurance Policy Against Major Surprises
If you need additional engineering support for Turnarounds and other scenarios, we will supply you with expert engineers to strengthen your team. We can provide FFS, materials, corrosion, and repair advice. We can help pre-plan for assessments by developing models, establishing acceptable flaw criteria, and anticipating damage scenarios. Planning ahead can enable complex decisions to be made during a Turnaround with the potential of significant cost savings while fully maintaining safety in your engineering and HSE programs.
If you would like more information on Stress Engineering Services, please call us at 281.955.2900, or complete the following form and one of our representatives contact you shortly. For a complete listing of contact information, visit our Locations page.