Having reliable equipment goes a long way to supporting the resilient organization, after all if you swap equipment, then the equipment must operate. Reliability is not the end target. Knowing the full capabilities of your equipment, being able to change over the equipment and process at a moment’s notice is fundamental to responding to a disruption. However, reliable does not mean resilient
Maintenance is the key to preserving the resilient of the manufacturing systems. Maintenance procedures should document and included in the risk appraisal. In addition to the normal maintenance procedures about maintaining the equipment, detailed procedures on how to recover from an interruption must be developed and documented during risk analysis so that they can be tested.
The documentation of maintenance procedures has come a long way from the multiple paper binders and books that did, and still do, populate a maintenance department. Today’s documentation can including product designs from engineering, automatically combine them with business information to optimize processes such as visual manufacturing work instructions, technical publications, training & maintenance. The result is a visually compelling mixture of 3D, 2D, Video and Text, that makes every process more engaging, easier to understand, and globally neutral across language barriers.
Just because a system has been designed with resilience in mind can encourage slack maintenance processes, after all there are back up systems. This should not be encouraged. After all there are more than enough reasons for equipment to fail without the lack of maintenance being the prime reason. Plus there is the likelihood that if the prime unit fails for lack of maintenance, the chances are reasonable that the secondary or backup unit will also have problems due to lack of maintenance.
These backup systems and procedures must be tested on a regular basis. Both maintenance and operations need to confident that these systems will cope with failures. The systems must test regularly by simulating the loss of individual pieces of equipment. Of course these tests, which represent real life conditions, should be undertaken when the risk and consequences of failure are at minimum.
Pipes, tanks, pressure vessels and other static equipment are usually designed to conform to certain codes, and are manufactured, installed, operated, and maintained by different companies. It is not unusual to find equipment in service for well over 50 years. This is well beyond the designer’s basis of a “useful life”. Being in service for this length of time, there is a high probability that the equipment has been subject to service related incidents that were never
considered in the original design. Of primary concern to plant personnel is how long can the equipment be operated safely and reliability. Mechanical Integrity programs address this question.
Mechanical integrity is the process of assuring equipment is in a satisfactory condition relative to safely, reliability, and can perform its intended purpose, and is also the method by which mechanical reliability (performance over time) is achieved. This is ensured by a documented program of procedures, engineering practices, applicable codes, standards, specifications, and manufacturers’ recommendations.
By ensuring the mechanical reliability of equipment, a company reduces the likelihood of a process incidents, material quality issues, and safety issues. As a consequence an organization with a comprehensive mechanical integrity program in place reduces its’ risk exposure which provides part of the underpinning of a resilient organization. Not only is a mechanical integrity program essential to the resilient organization, in many cases mechanical integrity is part of a
government mandated program.
Mechanical integrity is one of the elements of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Process Safety Management (PSM) Standards (29 CFR 1910.119(j), which states that Mechanical Integrity is applicable to the following types of process equipment:
- Pressure vessels and storage tanks;
- Piping systems (including piping components such as valves);
- Relief and vent systems and devices;
- Emergency shutdown systems;
- Controls (including monitoring devices and sensors, alarms and interlocks); and pumps.
Although not mandatory as part of this standard, a corporation should include, as part of the mechanical integrity program, those processes, equipment, and procedures that impact process safety. This includes manual processes, as the 2004 version of ISA Standard S84.01 recognizes manual actions as valid components of safety instrumented functions (SIFs). As well it is good manufacturing practice to include in the program those items that are connected to Process Safety Managed processes and products (e.g. loading equipment, transport containers, secondary containment vessels, and key utility systems).
The PSM Standard states in 29 CFR 1910.119(j)(3) that “The employer shall train each employee involved in maintaining the on‑going integrity of process equipment in an overview of that process and its hazards and in the procedures applicable to the employee’s job tasks to assure that the employee can perform the job tasks in a safe manner”.
This implies that the maintenance technicians and operators must be trained in safe work practices that they need to perform their work, and that they have the appropriate training (and certification, if required) in the general craft and specialty skills that are required. One of the aspects of a resilient organization is a flexible and highly capable workforce. Underpinning this capability is a work force that is trained in both the safety procedures and specific skills required to perform multiple types of work. Managing the skill sets required and the people whom have them, along with multiple certifications and recertification requirements is a complex process, and one that becomes more critical with each regulatory change. To handle this complexity companies are turning to computerized Human Capital Management systems that are integrated into maintenance and operations processes.
The PSM Standard also states in 29 CFR 1910.119(j)(4) that: “Inspections and tests shall be performed on process equipment. Inspection and testing procedures shall follow recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices (RAGAGEPs). The frequency of inspections and tests of process equipment shall be consistent with applicable manufacturers’ recommendations and good engineering practices, and shall occur more frequently if determined to be necessary by prior operating experience. The employer shall document each inspection and test that has been performed on process equipment. The documentation shall identify the date of the inspection or test, the name of the person who performed the inspection or test, the serial number or other identifier of the equipment on which the inspection or test was performed, a description of the inspection or test performed, and the results of the inspection or test.”
Large amounts of information have to be collected to meet this standard and other standards. While it is possible to collect and record the required information manually, it is preferable to automate this data collection as much as possible. Where this is not possible, mobile devices, which allow the documenting, recording data, and observations, enabling not only the execution of the standard but the audibility as well.
To complicate matters even more, there are numerous other standards from different bodies that are considered RAGAGEPs which define tasks and work that has to be performed not only by your staff but sometimes by an external third party.
API-570 Piping Inspection Code requires periodic external inspections by qualified API-570 piping inspectors 
not operators or other site personnel.
These standards can also specify the types, frequency of the inspections.
API-570 external visual inspections of above ground pipes have to occur at a minimum of every five years to determine the condition of the pipeline, supports and hardware, deadlegs, expansion joints, …
And in some cases these standards are apply to government regulations. For example part of API 570 Piping Inspection Code is applicable to Section 2570 Title 2, Division 3, Chapter 1, Article 5.5 of the California Code of Regulations: Preventative Maintenance Program As Applicable To Marine Terminal Oil Pipelines.
New standards and regulations that require an organization to follow them are being written all the time. A relatively new standard (ISA Standard S84.01 (original 1996 version revised in 2004) governing the entire life cycle of safety instruments systems (SISs) for emergency shutdowns has been recognized by OSHA as RAGAGEP.
Just conforming to the various standards and recommendations does not necessarily mean that your equipment is going to be reliable and have mechanical integrity. There are many aspects of ensuring mechanical integrity; ranging from the program itself, having trained and certified workers, to having the equipment, parts, and supplies available when needed.
The management of maintenance stores does not guarantee that the required parts for maintenance will be available. In manufacturing, it is essential that a bill of materials be designed and created for every product produced. Similar information is needed to describe the parts and quantities for each piece of maintenance work. While most Enterprise Asset Management Systems allow for the description of parts and supplies required for maintenance work, very few companies take advantage of the power of these systems by including the maintenance work as part of the normal enterprise materials requirements planning. According to a recent survey by People and Processes, Inc. the majority of companies surveyed had 25% or less of materials/spare parts identified with costs, locations, accurate quantities and reorder methods assigned.
This certainly impedes the planning of parts and work.
Even the planning of spare parts with a material requirements planning system does not ensure that the correct parts are being used in the maintenance operations. On top of the normal problems in issuing and receiving spares, the shelf life of parts and materials are not often tracked in maintenance. While the shelf life is not relevant from many items in stores, it is very important for some bearings, gases used for calibration, sealants, hoses, adhesives, integrated circuits, and other electronic equipment, etc. And the primary assumption for these shelf life relevant parts is that they are stored under the appropriate conditions, and are not degrading on the shelf. In some circumstances there are ways of extending the shelf life by testing and re-inspecting the part when it expires. As expected these inspections have to be scheduled, and the materials used in the inspection have to planned and acquired.
Have you faced issues with creating a resilient organization? Is it possible to build a resilient organization in the chemical industry? Feel free to discuss/share stories about these questions along with manufacturing in the chemicals industry in general in the comment space below.
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U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Process Safety Management (PSM) Standards (29 CFR 1910.119(j)
 U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Process Safety Management (PSM) Standards (29 CFR 1910.119(j)(3)
U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Process Safety Management (PSM) Standards (29 CFR 1910.119(j)(4)
API 570 Piping Inspection Code Sections 4.2, 4.3
API 570 Piping Inspection Code Sections 5.3,5.4.3,5.11