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Inspectioneering Journal

Fixed Equipment Mechanical Integrity (FEMI) Resources – Past vs. the Present

By John Reynolds at Intertek. This article appears in the May/June 2017 issue of Inspectioneering Journal

Introduction

Not long ago I had the opportunity to visit a refinery where I had the pleasure of being the Engineering Reliability Manager 35 years ago. I was surprised to see how many more human and funding resources for inspection and fixed equipment mechanical integrity (FEMI) the site had today compared to what I had working with me three decades ago. But this observation caused me to think about the reasons why this refinery needed so many more resources than I had when I was there, as this particular case was “close to home” for me. I lived through it and had the opportunity to go back and see what’s changed. Back then I had an inspection supervisor and four inspectors to cover the entire refinery, plus a project engineer that I could use to assist as needed. Today, without much expansion in throughput, that same refinery still had just one inspection supervisor, but he reports to a Superintendent of Engineering and Reliability (my old job) whose primary focus is FEMI. That superintendent has not only the inspection supervisor and nine inspectors, but also a full time corrosion engineer (CE)1, a full time FEMI engineer, and three other reliability engineers focusing on FEMI – all supporting the FEMI program and inspection efforts. They were all fully employed with a back-log of work to be done. So I started thinking more about what had really changed since I had that FEMI responsibility 35 years ago and why that site needed so many more resources now than I had during my tenure.

Thirty Five Years Ago….

Back then, we had only the second edition of the API 510 Pressure Vessel Inspection Code and a few informational API Guides for Inspection of Refinery Equipment (now out of print). API 510 was 12 pages with very few requirements and mostly guidance and expectations for vessel inspection and maintenance, plus one appendix (half page) which simply copied a section out of the ASME Boiler Code about those vessels that were exempted from 510. Today, the same site is dealing with the tenth edition of API 510 (along with most other sites), which is now 64 pages of text, plus 5 appendices (7 more pages); all told containing nearly 300 requirements (“shall” statements) and many more expectations and guidance on the inspection and maintenance of pressure vessels in hydrocarbon process services. Plus, we now have the fourth edition of API RP 572 Pressure Vessel Inspection Practices, which contains a lot of additional guidance (144 pages) and is referenced extensively in API 510 for good practices associated with vessels. That document did not exist 35 years ago. So, as you can see, for pressure vessel inspection alone, we have a huge increase in requirements and expectations that all refinery and petrochemical sites are expected to implement and sustain. But that’s not the least of it….

Back 35 years ago, there was no API 570 Piping Inspection Code. Each operating site was on its own to determine how it wanted to do piping inspection. Ultrasonic thickness gauging was popular, while hammer testing and tell-tale holes (which we weren’t using at this particular site) for piping inspection were just beginning to fade in the industry. But there was nothing like all the NDE tools and techniques we have today to assist us in monitoring the integrity of piping, let alone vessels. The fourth edition of API 570 (published in 2016) also contains nearly 300 requirements (“shall” statements) for the inspection and maintenance of piping systems.

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Comments and Discussion

Posted by Frank Sapienza on June 22, 2017
Thanks John! I think all the extra resources have... Log in or register to read the rest of this comment.

Posted by Dana Baham on June 22, 2017
And we are just getting started John, Integrity... Log in or register to read the rest of this comment.

Posted by Ashiq Hussain on July 24, 2017
Excellent summary on inspection history Log in or register to read the rest of this comment.

Posted by Kiriti Bhattacharya on July 28, 2017 . Edited on July 28, 2017
Frank, there is no doubt that personal injury and... Log in or register to read the rest of this comment.

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