479519 The Top Ten Reasons for Fixed Equipment Failures in the Hydrocarbon Process Industries

Wednesday, March 29, 2017: 8:00 AM
217CD (Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center)
John Reynolds, AIM, Intetek, Steamboat Springs, CO

This presentation summarizes the top ten reasons why fixed equipment fails in-service, thus causing significant reliability and process safety events e.g. explosions, fires, toxic releases, environmental damage, shutdowns, LPO, etc. This top ten list does is not based on the physical causes of failure like, corrosion, cracking, embrittlement or the other 65+ damage mechanisms and failure modes that afflict fixed equipment in the petroleum petrochemical industry. Those damage mechanisms and failure modes are just the final result after several other layers of protection fail first. Rather, this top-ten list is based on human system failures associated with inadequate or poorly implemented management systems for fixed equipment mechanical integrity (FEMI). Being aware of these human system failures and mitigating the reasons for them can substantially reduce process safety and reliability events caused by fixed equipment failures.

The hydrocarbon process industry as a whole continues to have numerous repeat failures of pressure equipment and piping, and too many of them involve big process safety events with major asset losses, environmental damage, injuries, and fatalities, even though most of the reasons for those failures and the necessary mitigation steps are well known and documented in industry codes and standards. Having been involved in numerous failure investigations and having read about hundreds more of them, I have come to the conclusion that there are ten primary reasons why they continue to occur. Certainly there are more than ten reasons and there are lots of different contributing as well as root causes for each major failure, but it is my opinion that if the necessary management systems and mitigation steps for these top ten reasons were adequately implemented and sustained at each hydrocarbon process site, the vast majority of the these failures could be avoided. This presentation will address those top ten reasons for equipment and piping failures in the hydrocarbon process industries and suggest ways to improve upon each. 

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