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Inspectioneering Journal

The Role of Corrosion Control in Achieving Excellence in Pressure Equipment Integrity and Reliability

By John Reynolds at Intertek. This article appears in the May/June 2010 issue of Inspectioneering Journal

Introduction

In the first article in this series entitled How to Put It All Together – Guide to Organizing a Successful PEI Program,(1) I provided an overview of the necessary Management Systems (MS) for a successful program to achieve excellence in pressure equipment integrity (PEI). This is the fourth article in that series. Clearly, corrosion prevention and control has a major role in achieving excellence in Pressure Equipment Integrity and Reliability (PEI&R). But there is a lot more to PEI&R than just corrosion control. This article will show how corrosion control has a central role in PEI&R, but will also show how the management system (MS) for corrosion control must be integrated with 9 other important management systems shown in figure 1 in order to achieve excellence in PEI&R.

For purposes of review (or for those who did not see the original article in the Sept/Oct, 2009 edition of the Inspectioneering Journal (IJ), and in order to set the stage for this follow-on article, I will repeat directly below, some of the same introduction included in the first article(1). The second article in the series covered Management Leadership and Support for PEI (4), and appeared in the Jan/Feb, 2010 edition of the IJ. The third article in the series covered Management of Change and Integrity Operating Windows for PEI (5), and appeared in the Mar/ Apr, 2010 edition of the IJ. For those who would rather not review the introductory material, you can skip directly to the third section of this article which is labeled Corrosion Management and Control.

Knowing what all needs to be accomplished in order to achieve excellence in PEI&R is one thing, but knowing how to organize it all for success is quite another. I have previously written/published numerous articles about what all needs to be accomplished (1-3). In this article I will show how to organize all 10 of the PEI&R MS to achieve overall success i.e. in order to make sure that everything that needs to be accomplished, is accomplished using management systems (MS) and work process (WP) descriptions. Without an effective organizational strategy for PEI&R, many of the 101 essential elements of PEI&R(2) 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&R 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&R 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&R? It’s not “gold plating” nor overdoing nor spending too much on the PEI&R 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&R program to avoid breaches of containment. Keep that definition in mind, as I will refer to it often. Having effective management systems (MS) in place for all the PEI&R issues that need to be handled is the foundation for a successful PEI&R program.

But what is a management system (MS)? 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&R MS with PEI&R work process (WP) 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 article, I will concentrate on creating, implementing and sustaining the MS, but will mention how WP maps and descriptions are also needed to achieve efficiency and effectiveness in the PEI&R program.

Note: For those of you who are more used to the term “mechanical integrity (MI)”, I use PEI&R throughout this article as somewhat of the equivalent of MI, but pertaining only to what I refer to as pressure equipment or what some others may refer to as “fixed equipment” or “stationary equipment”.

I recognize that there may be many ways to organize a PEI&R MS program for success, so I will present just one suggested way to do it, not the only way. Other ways to organize a PEI&R MS program may be equally effective, just as long as all necessary elements are included, scheduled and accomplished according to plan. This article is intended for those organizations that may not yet be achieving excellence in PEI&R (see above definition) and that believe perhaps the way they are organized (or even disorganized) may be part of the problem. Without effective PEI&R 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 beaches of containment.

The Ten PEI&R Management Systems

The way I see it, there are 10 essential MS needed for an effective PEI&R program that can achieve excellence. I like to think of having all 10 of the necessary MS for PEI&R 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&R MS 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&R. So in my two PEI&R MS filing cabinets, I have one of these PEI&R MS labels on each of the 10 MS drawers:

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

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&R program. For those who are more visually oriented learners like me, those 10 PEI&R MS are shown schematically in figure 1.

Figure 1Figure 1

As you can see from the list of 10 PEI&R MS above and in Figure 1, there is much more to a robust PEI&R program than just corrosion control. PEI&R is not just the result of a competent corrosion control 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&R. All of these PEI&R MS need to be highly integrated with each other in order to achieve success in PEI&R. 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&R success that is vital in today’s competitive environment that demands the utmost in cost containment and reliability.

Corrosion Management and Control

This article in our PEI&R MS chart contains the systems, work processes and procedures for indentifying and controlling the rate and types of deterioration in pressure equipment. It appears in the bubble at the four o’clock position in figure 1, and includes all those deterioration/ damage mechanisms outlined in the Inspectioneering Journal series of articles on the Ninety Nine Diseases of Pressure Equipment (3) as well as those outlined in API RP 571 Damage Mechanisms Affecting Fixed Equipment in the Refining Industry (6).

An experienced, knowledgeable corrosion/materials (C/ M) engineer/specialist is central to the effectiveness of this MS because most (but not all) of the technical work that this person does falls within this MS. Figure 2 shows schematically the primary categories of CM&C activities in which the C/M engineer/specialist is involved. For purposes of this article, when I refer to the PEI&R group, that includes the C/M engineer/specialist, even though in some organizations that person(s) may be in a separate group/department. The structure of the organization and reporting relationships are not as important as the fundamental need for the C/M engineer/specialist to work very closely with the inspection group to handle short-term and long-term corrosion and materials degradation issues.

Figure 2Figure 2

I recognize that for one reason or another not all owner-user organizations will have a full time or part time C/M engineer/specialist on staff. In those cases, then the C/M engineer/ specialist can be a third party contractor, consultant, or a service supplied by the corporate headquarters that serves multiple company sites. But for sure, in my 40 years of experience, nearly every operating site needs the services, to some extent, of a competent, experienced C/M engineer/specialist in order to achieve excellence in PEI&R, without which there are many corrosion and materials degradation traps to fall into. And those traps can lead not only to avoidable cost issues, but unanticipated breaches of containment with the ensuing consequences. The most well rounded C/M engineer/specialist should be knowledgeable, not just in metallurgy and materials selection, but also in process chemistry, corrosion and degradation mechanisms, corrosion barriers, corrosion and materials degradation prevention and mitigation practices.

Now let’s go around the bubble chart in figure 2 to briefly summarize the major areas where the C/M engineer/ specialist should be contributing to PEI&R excellence at each operating site.

Proactive Corrosion Control

Let’s start with the bubble at the 12 o’clock position, and work clockwise around in figure 2. First of all the C/M engineer/specialist must have sufficient time in their work schedules, not only to respond reactively to all the C/M issues that arise from time-to-time at an operating site, but also to proactively determine what issues might become a problem and to be able to prevent or minimize them before they lead to breaches of containment. Those operating sites where the C/M engineer/specialist does not have time for proactive CM&C activities will likely have more incidents caused by breaches of containment than those operating sites that have the benefit of proactive corrosion control.

Input to Inspection and Maintenance Plans

Corrosion Control Manuals and Corrosion Mitigation One of the more important proactive CM&C activities is the creation and implementation of what I call Corrosion Control Manuals (CCMs) or Documents (1 o’clock position on figure 2). These CCMs basically outline all the potential and historic corrosion and damage issues in each process unit. CCMs provide guidance to inspectors, process engineers and other users on corrosion control mitigation and monitoring strategies (2 o’clock position on figure 2) needed to avoid accelerated corrosion and/or breaches of containment from any and all potential deterioration mechanisms. The information contained in these manuals is a vital input to RBI, IOW’s, PHA’s, and most every other activity bubble on figure 2. When CCMs are thorough and complete, they become the corrosion control “bible” for each process unit. When the C/M engineer/specialist gets involved in a deterioration/damage issue reactively and the corrosion control strategy devised for corrective action may have general application in the future, that specific corrosion control strategy should be genericized and entered into the CCMs for future applications.

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