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Rick Hoffman joined Becht Engineering in June, 2009 as a Senior Engineering Advisor. He has more than 39 years experience in engineering, reliability management and maintenance in the refining, petrochemical and synthetic fuels industries.

Prior to joining Becht Engineering he was the Director, Specialty Engineering for LyondellBasell Industries. In this role he had worldwide responsibility for corporate technical support, mechanical engineering and maintenance for more than 40 chemical plants and two refineries. He was also responsible for capital project support, setting the strategic direction for Lyondell maintenance

Steps to Increase Efficiency, Improve Deliverables and Reduce Expert Witness Costs

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OR - Keeping Your Expert Witness Sane Litigation is extraordinarily expensive. Legal and expert witness fees can quickly mount up and become a significant percentage of the amount in dispute. I worked on a cost dispute on a plant estimated to cost $68MM but was significantly over expended. The litigation and expert fees were about $10MM or almost 15% of the original estimate for the plant. In this case good scope, an experienced project team and tight control over field construction might have avoided both the over expenditure and litigation. However, sometimes litigation cannot be avoided and it’s important to control costs of the legal staff as well as the expert witness team. We recently worked on a case where the expert fees were about 7% of the disputed amount. When costs of the legal team were added to the expert fees, the expense was substantial. This article outlines the steps...
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Process Safety Management: Small Errors Lead To Big Consequences

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We work in an industry where there is very little tolerance for errors since we deal with highly hazardous, flammable chemicals. Normally our plants operate with exceptional safety records since they are built to exacting standards, inspected frequently to monitor changes in integrity and personnel are highly trained. However, sometimes human error, cutting corners or putting production before safety can cause serious accidents. This blog focuses on the importance of doing things right every day, every time . It discusses incidents where small errors led to huge consequences. These errors can be due to inadvertent mistakes, normalization of deviance, fatigue, intentionally ignoring safety procedures or failure to recognize hazards. Inadvertent mistakes could include forgetting to properly line up a valve system, installing the wrong gasket or pushing a button before the system is ready to operate. Normalization of deviance ( View my other blog ) is where the unacceptable becomes acceptable....
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Accurate Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) Can Guide Due Diligence Efforts

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A key element in an effective Due Diligence study is to be able to quickly identify the Key Performance Indicators (KPI's) on a current, historical and projected basis. These KPI’s include safety statistics, operational performance, status of maintenance programs and overdue activities. The KPI’s can be presented in numerical or graphical format however it is important to understand trends in the KPI, comparison to world class performance and in the case of graphical presentation the slope of the improvement or decline in performance. It is also important to understand the basis and calculation method for the KPI. Plant reliability is a critical KPI however we find a variety of methods used to calculate this very important factor. We have done due diligence in plants where just having the lights on or a critical compressor on turning gear is considered running at 100 percent reliability. The devil is truly in the details....
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Acceptable Practices for High Voltage Motor Lead Routing

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Are Your Wires Crossed?   By Rick Hoffman and Joe Rammage We recently evaluated a 15kV, 5000 hp, induction motor in a WPII enclosure manufactured by a foreign company.  During an on-site inspection of the main terminal box it was discovered that the high voltage leads were touching.  This raised significant concerns about the long-term reliability of the motor. Becht Engineering investigated the issue to determine the industry standards and best practices concerning routing of the motor high voltage leads.    Shielded vs Non-Shielded Cables The National Electric Code requires all cables rated above 2.4kV to be shielded to prevent concentrated electromagnetic stresses from forming between the cable conductor and ground when the cable is in close proximity to a grounded surface.  The addition of the metallic shield smooths out the electromagnetic field eliminating high stress points.  Without it, the increased density of electromagnetic stresses where the cable is in close...
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