Ten ways to cut the pressure vessel and pipework inspection chaos and return to calm.

We all have those weeks/months and sometimes even those years, when the mechanical Integrity function just gets out of control. Leaks, breakdowns, shut-downs run over, small fires and environmental spills not to mention injuries and accidents.

Well, here are my top ten ways to help cut the chaos and return to calm.

Tip 1: Stock-take “You will know that your tent is secure; you will take stock of your property and find nothing missing”. Job 5:24. Stock-take. Big business does it, the major stores do it. Therefore know your enemy, simply start by printing off your computerised maintenance system CMMS (Maximo/SAP) list and check PSV’s, Vessels, heat exchangers etc. Start small i.e. a small plant/ system.

Tip 2: Review your history. “It takes a great deal of history to produce a little literature” Henry James (1843 – 1916) Management of change, inspections, condition monitoring, repair techniques, laboratory testing, corrosion monitoring, does it all add up? Discuss this and tip 1 findings with your maintenance section and process operations. Read, Review and Compare

Tip 3: Design “Luck is the residue of design”. Branch Rickey (1881 - 1965) Do you have all of the design drawings and manufacturers’ design reviews? Find it and keep it organised. Review with tip 1 and tip 2 findings. Are all of the items in question operating within their design limits? Do you have operating limits? How does it work, is it being used correctly.

Tip 4: Boundaries “Witticisms please as long as we keep them within boundaries, but pushed to excess they cause offense”. Phaedrus. Set the boundaries. Know what the process guys should be doing and find ways to monitor them i.e. DCS system, local gauges etc.

Tip 5: Mind the gap. “Mind the gap” London Underground announcer 1969 By now you should have a good idea where your gaps are, what has never been tested, what has been operating outside its limits and what has been repaired and replaced. Design strategies so that next time it does not fall through the cracks.

Tip 6: Plug the leaks. “A government is the only known vessel that leaks from the top”. James Reston (1909 -1995) Stick to your gap filling plan, organise extra inspection NDT etc. and get started. If you cannot get anyone to listen, raise it as a safety issue, be specific and fight your corner, raise it as a non-conformance if need be. Be assertive not aggressive, explain, assist and guide.

Tip 7: Review you strategy “The most dangerous strategy is to jump a chasm in two leaps. Benjamin Disraeli (1804 - 1881) Take time out to know where you are headed. Remember, this is an ongoing campaign for reducing uncertainty, because chaos is uncertainty.

Tip 8: Look to the future I never think of the future - it comes soon enough. Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955) Where do you want to be next year, the year after or in 10 years? Have a plan; construct a plan for each asset, system and plant, laying out your overall strategy and direction. Describe the future to your team and reinforce it every time a tough situation comes along. Write a 10 year Integrity management plan for all of your equipment.

Tip 9: Work smarter “When you hire people that are smarter than you are, you prove you are smarter than they are.” R. H. Grant Manage the situation, audit it and take control. Stop worrying about situations you have no control over and concentrate the ones you have. List the problem areas and make sure everyone understands the situation. Get others to carry out the tasks for you. Make sure they understand it is in their interest to comply and assist in the safe and reliable operation of your plant. Are you on plan, check.

Tip 10: Get help take control. As long as you derive inner help and comfort from anything, keep it. Mahatma Gandhi (1869 - 1948) Remember you cannot do it all yourself. Get help. Separate the mundane from the specialised and package it up and send it out. Be specific in what you want and set tight deadlines. Whilst you have to attend meetings make sure you have a clone working on the technical stuff and answering questions. Your clone will be either the same or more qualified and experienced, just make sure it is someone you can trust and treat them well. Good luck and have fun.

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