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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

Normalization of Deviance – The Pathway to Disaster

columbia_explosio_20181004-195440_1 Space Shuttle Columbia Explodes Upon Re-Entry
On February 1, 2003 the Space Shuttle Columbia, while entering the earth’s atmosphere at 10,000 miles per hour, disintegrated killing all 7 astronauts. A $4 billion spacecraft was destroyed, spreading debris over 2000 square miles and grounding the Space Shuttle program for 2-1/2 years. The cause, normalization of deviance. Insulating foam strikes which had been unacceptable were tolerated and ignored. The NASA specification stated “No debris will emanate from the critical zone of the external tank on the launch pad or during ascent.” However, after 113 shuttle missions, foam shedding, debris impacts and TPS tile damage came to be regarded as only a routine maintenance concern. Each successful mission reinforced the belief that foam shedding was unavoidable and unlikely to jeopardize safety. On January 28, 1986 the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded killing all astronauts on board and destroying the spacecraft. The cause, normalization of deviance. Increasing problems with o-ring damage were...
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The Becht Expert Witness – A Partner with Credibility

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In any legal case it is very important to establish a true partnership between the law firm and the expert witness. This partnership facilitates an effective, balanced team with both technical and legal knowledge. This will provide the client with the most cost-effective solution and best chance for a favorable outcome during trial or arbitration.  In some legal cases the expert is kept in a strict “need to know” position rather than being a partner. This situation can hinder the expert’s ability to evaluate the situation and add cost due to potential misunderstanding and rework.  This can also put the expert in an awkward position during deposition and trial since the legal teams have facts that may not have been disclosed to the expert. This does not mean the expert has to review all discovery materials but rather needs to have a complete overview or summary of all relevant issues in...
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Securing the Right Expert to Support Your Lawsuit

lit-support-blog-image Becht Litigation Support
On March 25, 2016 I published a Blog titled “ Expert Witness, a Becht Engineering Service to Avoid ”. This Blog focused on a number of elements that can be used to assure projects do not result in litigation. These elements include: Developing a sound, complete scope of work Selecting a qualified contractor Using proven industry standards with specific addenda Putting a highly experienced management and technical team in the contractor’s office Implementing shop and field quality assurance programs Demanding timely reporting from the contractor However, we find that many times these elements are not implemented on major projects and there is a dispute over cost, schedule or performance resulting in litigation. There can also be cases involving equipment failures, underperformance of projects, patent infringement or injury where we are contacted after the litigation process is well under way. In these cases, it is critical the legal team engage the right...
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Treat Reliability Like …

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This blog outlines ways to think about reliability to help drive a culture of continuous improvement.  It is the fourth in a series of Blogs on improving plant reliability performance through changes in culture, programs, equipment design, maintenance and operation. The principles we applied in implementing successful reliability programs in a number of operating plants included the following: Treat Reliability like Safety Treat Reliability like Football Treat Reliability like Athletics Treat Reliability like Fumigation Treat Reliability like Hard, Dirty Work Treat Reliability Like Safety In most operating plants, there is a reasonable safety culture and program. This is driven by regulatory requirements and also a desire to have a safe, injury free workplace. The safety program includes management reporting at a high level in the plant structure, a well written manual describing hazards and procedures, tests and inspections to be done prior to executing work, a well-defined incident investigation process and...
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