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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 More

Due Diligence - Front End Loading for Plant Acquisitions

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In many cases operating companies and financial institutions utilize Due Diligence studies for critical input on “Go/No Go” decisions for plant acquisitions.  Once the decision is made to purchase the plant, the Due Diligence study is often put on the shelf.  The company purchasing the new asset then faces significant challenges integrating the asset into the enterprise culture, implementing enterprise procedures and standards, capturing and implementing best practices and evaluating the quality of the team at the new plant.  A well executed Due Diligence study can play an important role in the rapid integration of a new acquisition into the existing enterprise from an expectations and culture standpoint.  This process using the Due Diligence study as a road map can be viewed as a type of “Front End Loading” for plant acquisitions.  An experienced Due Diligence team can quickly identify a number of issues that the new owner will have to...
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Importance of Codes and Standards for Process Safety

Importance of Codes and Standards for Process Safety
Compliance with the Process Safety Management rule, OSHA 1910.119, is a requirement for plants processing certain highly hazardous materials exceeding threshold quantities. The rule requires the owner to demonstrate all equipment has been purchased and installed in accordance with recognized industry standards. Maintenance practices must also be according to Recognized and Generally Accepted Good Engineering Practice (RAGAGEP) . The owner must document this information as part of the Process Safety Information and Mechanical Integrity program for the plant. Use of Codes The use of codes and standards can help assure compliance with the rule. For example ASME Section VIII is the recognized code for construction of pressure vessels operating in the United States at pressures over 15 psi. It would be difficult to debate vessels could be designed and built to other requirements and still be acceptable under the PSM rule. Codes such as the ASME code have been developed and...
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PSM Implementation is a Challenge -- Maintaining Compliance is Even Harder

PSM Implementation is a Challenge -- 
Maintaining Compliance is Even Harder
The Process Safety Management rule (PSM), OSHA 1910.119, was implemented in the early 90’s, more than 20 years ago. Implementation was driven by a number of tragic accidents in the process industry. However, despite the long history of the rule and multiple preventable, catastrophic incidents, many companies still have not fully implemented PSM. Companies that have implemented the PSM rule often find it very challenging to maintain compliance.  Becht Engineering has conducted numerous PSM, due diligence and mechanical integrity audits and discovered deficiencies in PSM compliance. We have even discovered major gaps in some facilities that have done well during OSHA audits. These plants were generally located where there are limited numbers of hydrocarbon and chemical processing facilities. OSHA simply lacked the local resources and skills to perform adequate audits. These plants can be highly vulnerable to both incidents and fines since they may assume everything is in compliance. In the...
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Expert Witness - A Becht Engineering Service to Avoid

Expert Witness - A Becht Engineering Service to Avoid
Becht Engineering personnel have significant experience in serving as Expert Witnesses for a variety of legal matters.   However, litigation can be costly, time consuming and often times the outcome is unpredictable.    It should be avoided if at all possible through implementation of proper controls and oversight. A much better strategy than after the fact litigation is to put contracts, systems, specifications and personnel in place to assure there is a good outcome on a project.  This will also assure that issues are addressed in timely fashion and resolved quickly.  Several years ago I wrote a paper titled “ The Top 10 Myths of Reliability Management. ” The first myth was “You can always trust your contractor.” While many contractors are quite competent, it is important to have a clear understanding of the expectations and the contactor must be monitored to assure the work is going according to plan.  Becht Engineering...
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