Bringing process and equipment awareness to inspection is vitally important. Inspectors are the archivists of the unit. Because most failures occur over many years, the records often span many inspectors (in-house and contractors). The analysis and interpretation of the observations are of critical importance and can not be done properly without a detailed understanding of the process and equipment. By increasing the level of unit knowledge, the inspector can probe deeper into an observation or get more involved when something changes on the unit, whether or not their services were directly requested. PSM requires mechanical integrity and generally we like to keep the process contained to make our lives easier, right?
An example may include an inspector’s response to more rapid heater fouling, a common occurrence in delayed comers. The unit inspector may hear this comment in the weekly business unit meeting they attend but think nothing more of it. However, it has some significant implications on the heater tube life. For instance, operations may decide to disregard a skin thermocouple because they thing it is erroneous. The inspector could compare that TMT location to the known thin spots in the heater tube to raise the alarm before a failure. More rapid fouling leads to more frequent decoking (online spalling or offline cleaning) which can cause accelerated tube damage. Both of these considerations should be reviewed when heater fouling increases, a predominately process optimization function to deal with normally.
We have offered specialized sessions just for inspectors or included inspectors in sessions with other disciplines. If you would like to know more about improving your inspector’s level of understanding of the unit, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.