The areas proposed by the Advanced Inspector Certification Program T/G for new endorsement are:
- RBI (risk based inspection)
- FFS (fitness for service)
- Corrosion and Materials
Several new API inspection recommended practices exist in which inspectors need to be knowledgeable and qualified. The three documents covering these areas are API RBI Recommended Practice 580, API Fitness for Service Recommended Practice 579, and API Recommended Practice 571 Damage Mechanisms Affecting Fixed Equipment in the Refining Industry. These three documents cover somewhat more advanced knowledge relative to basic ICPs (inspection certification programs).
In order to take the exams and be eligible to receive the endorsements there is a need to hold at least one of the basic level certifications, i.e. API 510 (Pressure Vessel Inspection Code), API 570 (Piping Inspection Code) or API 653 (In-Service Above Ground Storage Tank Inspection code). Current testing for these certifications are less than a one-day exam and usually about one week of classroom training to prepare for each test/certification.
The existing body of knowledge for the basic level ICPs mentioned above is already large and there is a desire not to expand to much more. There are plans to add questions from the new Recommended Practice 577, Welding Inspection and Metallurgy, in the existing basic level ICP’s. Because of the existing WS CWI certification, there are no current plans for the API to offer a separate ICEP on API RP 577.
Current plans are as follows:
- The ICEP will be entirely voluntary, and not mandated by any of the code books
- Each ICEP will cover just one API RP document/area
- Closed book exam will be approximately 40-50 questions, and take approximately 2 hours to administer
- Exams will be given on the same day as existing basic level inspection certification exams are offered
- Current exams only take about 6 hours to administer, so candidates could sit for both a basic inspection certification exam and an ICEP exam in one day
- API ICEP Certificate will be issued upon passing the exam
The underlying reasons for these three endorsements are:
- The more an inspector knows and understands corrosion and degradation issues, the better job of inspection planning and execution can be accomplished.
- The more inspectors know and understand the issues surrounding fitness for service, the better they will understand the need for accuracy in flaw detection, characterization, and sizing so that the data for FFS evaluations will not impact the accuracy of the analysis. Additionally, level 1 FFS analysis has always been envisioned as being conducted by advanced level inspectors, so it would be included in the FFS endorsement.
- The more an inspector knows and understands the background of RBI, the better job of inspection and planning will be accomplished with more non-intrusive inspections, more on-stream inspections and more appropriate, risk-based inspection intervals, which is the general direction that the industry is headed. Risk based inspection takes a different mind-set for inspectors that have long been used to time-based and condition-based inspection scheduling.
It will take time to write, review and validate a data bank of questions for each ICEP exam from which 40-50 different questions could be drawn for each exam and to set up all the administrative details of offering and administering these new ICEP’s. The “IJ” will keep readers abreast of the progress.