Inspectioneering Journal

The Completely Updated and Revised 9th Edition of API 510

Pressure Vessel Inspection Code

This article appears in the July/August 2006 issue of Inspectioneering Journal.

One has seen the television commercials already introducing “2007 model year” vehicles; “totally re- engineered”, “bold new styling”, and “more standard equipment” to name a few. The release of the 9th edition of API Std. 510, Pressure Vessel Inspection Code, conjures up similar images although the clichés might be “completely redesigned”, “improved technology throughout”, but “same great engine”.

The 9th edition had its beginnings back when API Std 570, Piping Inspection Code, hit the road in 1993. The new piping code had clear organization and content geared toward industry’s changing requirements. API 510, on the other hand, was a seasoned code tinkered with through the years. Numerous ballots added and changed words, sentences, and such. The code became a bit disjointed with so many changes and further, did not align with the piping code. Thus, the long term vision was to rewrite API 510 using API 570 as the model and align the two codes.

As with many final production versions, they can be quite different than the original concept. The rewrite effort for API 510 Code on Pressure Vessel Inspection began in earnest in 2001. Initial work started with side-by-side comparisons of the terms, technical requirements, section headings, and content, found in the piping and pressure vessel codes. After the comparison, some gaps and inconsistencies were readily apparent. Another observation was that despite all of the updates and changes to API 510, the core content did not readily follow the evolution of inspection work practices and processes to support reliability and availability initiatives in the petrochemical processing industry. The 9th edition rewrite expanded in scope from more simply aligning the codes to assuring gaps between industry’s practices and the code were addressed to make the code more connected to current standard practices.

If one were to take the 9th edition for a test drive, here’s what one might notice. Firstly, the title has changed from “Maintenance Inspection, Rating, Repair and Alteration” to “In-Service Inspection, Rating, Repair and Alteration”. The scope and application of the code remains largely the same as before. However, there is direct recognition of fitness-for-service and risk-based inspection concepts in the introductory scope. The scope also clarifies the use of ASME code (which essentially applies to new construction) when referenced in the document.

Secondly, the primary section headings closely resemble those of the API 570 Piping Code although there are many new and different subsections in the 9th edition of API 510. Subsections in the 8th edition could contain a significant amount of varied subject matter. In the 9th edition, an effort was made to break these down into more concise subsections and placed in the appropriate section. Examples of new 9th edition subsections include; Recognized Technical Concepts, Inspection Plans, General Types of Inspection and Surveillance, Condition Monitoring Methods, Inspection of In-service Welds and Joints, Inspection During Installation and Service Changes, Remaining Life Calculations, Required Thickness Determination, Evaluation of Existing Equipment with Minimal Documentation.

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