Inspectioneering Journal

Fixed Equipment Reliability Assuring Excellence

Part 1

By F. Walter Pinto, Manager, Stationary Equipment at Lyondell Chemical Company. This article appears in the September/October 2006 issue of Inspectioneering Journal.
This article is part 1 of a 2-part series.
Part 1 | Part 2


This series of articles describes the elements for a successful fixed equipment reliability program in a petrochemical facility. These articles will address management systems, engineering practices, preventive/predictive maintenance/inspection systems, performance metrics, and resources. The fixed equipment reliability program at Lyondell Chemical Company and a number of best practices developed as part of the reliability program will serve as much of the basis. Some success stories and lessons learned are shared.

A model fixed equipment reliability program will be provided in the second article of this series. It can be used to evaluate the reliability program at any site. A list of abbreviations used in this article can be found at the bottom. 

Visualize this:

A plant engineer is driving to work in the morning. He sees the emergency flare light up and says to himself, “There it goes again! Have we had another major leak due to Corrosion-under-Insulation (CUI)?” Later, he finds that it was indeed a leak due to CUI, with an associated cost in excess of two million dollars in lost opportunity and hydrocarbons flared. I am sure all of us have experienced repeated equipment failures and said to ourselves, “Why don’t we learn from these incidents and prevent them from occurring again?” Some companies do and some don’t. The only way unplanned equipment failures can be avoided is by sustaining a “reliability culture” and not by a “bandage approach,” with little, if any, collective learning.

While this article focuses on fixed equipment, the principles can be applied to other disciplines. Science and the tools in this area are well known and available. The challenge always is in implementation because it requires resources and in sustaining “the change.” A reliability culture can only exist if it has “reliability lobbyists” to make a constant case, keeping the improved attitudes and actions in front of the decision makers.

Reliability at Lyondell is defined as “the availability of operating units on demand.” The focus is on “excellence,” not “compliance.” The reliability program covers all equipment, not just “process safety management (PSM) covered” equipment. We believe that reliability drives excellence in safety, cost, quality, and environmental performance. Our experience shows that an effective reliability program must have all of these considerations factored into the equation. The most reliable plants have the lowest maintenance cost and excellent safety performance. The following graphs illustrate this experience within Lyondell.

The first graph shows the relationship between reliability and safety performance at a site.

This content is available to registered users and subscribers

Register today to unlock this article for free.

Create your free account and get access to:

  • Unlock one premium article of your choosing per month
  • Exclusive online content, videos, and downloads
  • Insightful and actionable webinars
Interested in unlimited access? VIEW OUR SUBSCRIPTION OPTIONS

Current subscribers and registered users can log in now.

Comments and Discussion

Posted by Abraham Panackal on March 25, 2014
The article mentions attachments. I could not... Log in or register to read the rest of this comment.

Add a Comment

Please log in or register to participate in comments and discussions.

Inspectioneering Journal

Explore over 20 years of articles written by our team of subject matter experts.

Company Directory

Find relevant products, services, and technologies.

Training Solutions

Improve your skills in key mechanical integrity subjects.

Case Studies

Learn from the experience of others in the industry.


Inspectioneering's index of mechanical integrity topics – built by you.

Industry News

Stay up-to-date with the latest inspection and asset integrity management news.


Read short articles and insights authored by industry experts.

Expert Interviews

Inspectioneering's archive of interviews with industry subject matter experts.

Event Calendar

Find upcoming conferences, training sessions, online events, and more.


Downloadable eBooks, Asset Intelligence Reports, checklists, white papers, and more.

Videos & Webinars

Watch educational and informative videos directly related to your profession.


Commonly used asset integrity management and inspection acronyms.