A Guide to Organizing a Successful PEI Program

By John Reynolds, Principal Consultant at Intertek. October 7, 2013

Knowing what needs to be accomplished in order to achieve excellence in pressure equipment integrity (PEI) is one thing, but knowing how to organize it all for success is quite another.

I have previously written numerous articles and posts for Inspectioneering about what all needs to be accomplished. In this post I will show how to start organizing all this “PEI stuff” to achieve overall success in order to make sure that everything that needs to be accomplished, is accomplished using management systems (MS) and work process (WP) descriptions. While I have covered some of this before, I want to begin at the beginning, even if it means going over some of the material again.

Without an effective organizational strategy for PEI, many of the 101 essential elements of PEI can “drop between the chairs” because there may be no management system in place to make sure that each element gets properly planned, scheduled and completed at appropriate intervals by a responsible party.

However with an effective PEI MS in place, each site should be able to maintain pressure equipment integrity (i.e., no breaches of containment) and to achieve pressure equipment reliability (i.e., having pressure equipment available to function as designed to meet the business plan), both of which comprise PEI excellence.

Speaking of excellence, Vince Lombardi, one of the most famous football coaches in the history of the NFL, once said, “Perfection is not attainable, but if you chase perfection, you will catch excellence.” I believe that to be very true and especially when it comes to implementing an effective pressure equipment integrity program.

But what is excellence in PEI? It’s not “gold plating” nor overdoing nor spending too much on the PEI program. It’s simply doing everything that needs to be done, doing it right, doing it when it needs to be done, in order to create, implement and sustain the PEI program to avoid breaches of containment. Keep that definition in mind, as I will refer to it often. Having effective management systems in place for all the PEI issues that need to be handled is the foundation for a successful PEI program.

But what is a management system? In my experience, it’s simply a compendium of all the necessary information that describes what must be done, why it needs to done, how it is to be done, and how often or when. Some operating sites then combine their PEI MS with PEI work process maps and descriptions to show who is involved and how the work flows, i.e. what comes first, next, last and in between plus what can be done in parallel and what must be done in series. Management systems are the input to the WP maps and descriptions. For the purpose of this series of articles, I will concentrate on creating, implementing and sustaining the MS, and will mention how WP maps and descriptions are also needed to achieve efficiency and effectiveness in the PEI program.

I recognize that there may be many ways to organize a PEI MS program for success, so I will present just one suggested way to do it. Keep in mind that this is not the only way. Other ways to organize a PEI MS program may be equally effective, just as long as all necessary elements are included, scheduled, and accomplished according to plan.

This post is intended as a follow-up to the posts on “Why Some Sites Just Don’t Get It”, so it is for those organizations that may not yet be achieving excellence in PEI and that believe perhaps the way they are organized (or even disorganized) may be part of the problem. Without effective PEI MS, even if we know what needs to be done, we might be just “flailing at the wind”, as my grandmother used to say, rather than accomplishing what needs to be done effectively and efficiently to prevent breaches of containment.

The Ten PEI Management Systems

The way I see it, there are 10 essential MSs needed for an effective PEI program that can achieve excellence. I like to think of having all 10 of the necessary MSs for PEI in two filing cabinets, with 5 drawers each, i.e. 10 drawers total. Now before I lose half my readers right off the top who don’t put anything in those ancient metal cabinets any more, bear with me, as I’m old enough to still think that way, even though I well know we keep all our files nowadays stored electronically. Back on track; each of my filing cabinet drawers has one of 10 PEI MSs that contain all the necessary information that describe what needs to be accomplished, and how to accomplish it, in order to achieve success in PEI. So in my two PEI MS filing cabinets, I have one of these PEI MS labels on each of the 10 MS drawers:

  1. Management Leadership and Support for PEI
  2. Integrity Operating Windows (IOW)
  3. Management of Change (MOC)
  4. Deterioration Management and Control
  5. Risk Assessment and Inspection Planning
  6. Life Cycle Management
  7. PEI Codes and Standards
  8. Site Procedures and Work Processes for PEI
  9. PEI Record keeping and Data Management
  10. Continuous Improvement for PEI

Into each of these drawers, I will have multiple folders where I file all the procedures, standards, guidelines, work processes, best practices, engineering evaluations, failure analyses, metrics, etc. that I need in order to outline and operate a successful PEI program. For those who are more visually oriented learners like myself, those 10 PEI MSs are shown schematically in the image below.

Excellence in Pressure Equipment Integrity

As you can see from the list of 10 PEI MSs above and in the image, there is much more to a robust PEI program than just inspection procedures and standards. PEI is not just the result of a competent inspection program! It takes an effective multi-disciplined approach with management, operations, engineering, maintenance and inspection to accomplish what needs to be done to achieve excellence in PEI. All of these PEI MS need to be highly integrated in order to achieve success in PEI. Hence, if I were to draw figure 1 more accurately, there would be a double-ended arrow from each MS bubble to every other MS bubble on the diagram; but that would be too messy and the effect of the illustration would be lost; so you will just need to be aware that all those other arrows exist, even though they are not shown. Those operating sites, which still have each of their functions mostly “working in silos” and not effectively integrated with the other disciplines, will not be able to achieve the level of PEI success that is vital in today’s competitive environment that demands the utmost in cost containment and reliability.

In next week’s post, I will start to define the Top 10 essential management systems needed for an effective PEI program. In the mean time, sign up for the Inspectioneering Turnaround and register at to read article summaries on my previous articles on PEI programs.

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