Inspectioneering Journal

The Eight Pillars of Excellent FEMI Programs

By Steven R. Bolinger, Mechanical Integrity Expert & Chemical/Materials Engineer at Becht. This article appears in the November/December 2019 issue of Inspectioneering Journal.


A refinery or chemical plant Fixed Equipment Mechanical Integrity (FEMI) program consists of eight basic categories or “Pillars” that are fundamental to achieve FEMI excellence. While every refinery or chemical plant has some form of these Pillars in place, they are often inadequately implemented or have significant gaps in the key elements that make up a complete Pillar. This paper describes these Pillars in detail and suggests what distinguishes good Pillars from those that are less than adequate. 

The Eight Pillars of FEMI are :

  1. General and Organization
  2. Resources
  3. Corrosion Management
  4. Inspection Planning and Scheduling
  5. Inspection NDE
  6. Records
  7. Recommendations
  8. Information Technology

Typically, when a FEMI audit is performed for a refinery or chemical plant, each one of these Pillars is reviewed and scored. The following sections provide an overview of the elements each Pillar should contain, as well as criteria for assessing the Pillars in your FEMI program.

I. General and Organization

This Pillar is a high-level category that establishes how a pressure equipment integrity (PEI) department functions and is organized. The Pillar is important because it establishes the program culture and demonstrates how much influence the PEI department has within a site. The primary elements of the General and Organization category are organization structure, leadership, working relationships, and standards. Each category will be discussed in detail below. 

Organization Structure

Organization structure describes the department in which the pressure equipment inspectors, corrosion and materials engineers (CMEs), and pressure equipment engineers reside. At some sites, these subject matter experts (SMEs) are all in the same department, while at other sites, the inspectors reside in one department and the engineers in another. Typically, the most effective sites have all the SMEs in the same department – but not always. Neither approach prevents a facility from achieving FEMI excellence. Regardless of how department(s) are set up, the defining element of an effective organizational structure is that the groups function as one team, especially when solving problems. 


The PEI department usually reports to maintenance or technical. Either reporting relationship can be effective. The most important issue is the working relationship between the PEI manager and the maintenance or technical manager. The maintenance manager may have a conflict of interest when considering PEI issues. Since maintenance controls the budget and is accountable for the spend, they might not think the value of certain FEMI initiatives outweighs the cost. Whereas, the technical manager isn’t responsible for the overall budget and, as a result, does not usually have the same conflict of interest. However, the maintenance manager usually has a mechanical engineering background, while the technical manager typically comes from the process engineering side. More often than not, the maintenance manager’s background in mechanical leads to a better understanding of PEI issues. To remedy these issues, some companies have made the maintenance manager own the integrity of the equipment, which usually minimizes any conflict of interest. If maintenance does not own equipment integrity and PEI works for maintenance, conflicts of interests will arise.

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 Nain Aguado on January 27, 2020
Excellent article, good practice!!! Log in or register to read the rest of this comment.

Posted by Don MacIsaac on January 28, 2020
Great article. 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.