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Becht Engineering Blog

In this section of the site contributing authors submit interesting articles relating to the various services, industries and research & development efforts of Becht Engineering.

Risk-Based Work Selection (RBWS) – Choosing a Software Tool

software-tool-cover Choosing the right software tool for RBWS
Using the right software tool can save time and improve results of Risk Based Work Selection (RBWS) which is a standalone work process aimed at optimizing turnaround (TA) work scopes.  RBWS uses risk assessments to determine if individual worklist items are justified by Health, Safety, & Environmental Risks or Financial Risks.  Significant reductions in turnaround work scopes typically result from this structured work process. Becht Engineering has conducted RBWS sessions using a variety of tools ranging from Excel spreadsheets to our custom-built STRAITS Software.  Some tools have distinct advantages over others, so we wanted to highlight why a specialized tool should be used for RBWS and what are the key features to look for when selecting a tool.  Why is a Specialized Tool Needed? The information necessary to conduct an RBWS should already exist.  The challenge is digging the information out of desk drawers, databases, and excel spreadsheets, and organizing it...
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All That Glitters Is Not Gold - Due Diligence Can Define The True Value

pot_of_gold_rainbow
A few years ago I conducted what might be the world's cheapest, fastest and most cost effective due diligence study ever done. This study took one hour and cost the client about $500.  I was approached by two new members of a well-recognized financial institution. They were assigned to evaluate opportunities to capture low cost natural gas. They had discovered an ammonia plant for sale in an intensely agricultural region in the Midwest-US. Considering feedstock cost, proximity to market and asking price for the plant, they thought this was a gold mine.  Their superiors had some concern about the enormous enthusiasm of these new employees and asked them to evaluate the condition of the asset to determine if it would perform at reasonable rates with acceptable mechanical availability. That is when they reached out to me. A call was scheduled and they explained the situation and “golden” opportunity. They we indeed...
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Fatal Distractions: Refinery Chloride Contamination – Are You Looking for the Source of Chlorides in the Right Place?

L1011-aircraft Eastern Airlines L1011 Aircraft
On December 29, 1972 one the Nation’s worst airline accidents occurred as Eastern Air Lines Flight 401 crashed into the Florida Everglades killing 101 of the passengers and crew.   A National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation attributed the cause of the crash to crew distraction.  While on approach, the crew noted that a landing gear indicator light was not functioning.  While the entire crew was preoccupied with troubleshooting the burnt-out landing gear indicator light, they failed to notice that the autopilot had inadvertently been disconnected and, as a result, the aircraft gradually lost altitude and ultimately crashed. All too often when attempting to solve a problem we suffer from tunnel vision.    A probable root cause to the problem is suggested and we spend all of energy and resources attempting to fix the suggested root cause while ignoring the indications that the actual root cause is something else or that more...
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Reducing Loss of Primary Containment (LOPC's) in a Refinery

cover-LOPCs
Reducing Loss of Primary Containment (LOPC's) or commonly referred to as “leaks” in a refinery is a key factor to improve reliability.  Historically, most refiners reduced the high consequence leaks to avoid major incidents; however, lower consequence related leaks were not given high priority.  Today high reliability is required, and reduction of all leaks is desired due to greater legal and regulatory oversight of the industry.  Approximately 90% of the leaks occur in piping systems.  These leaks typically fall into 3 categories; internal corrosion, flange leaks and external corrosion.  Many refiners have programs in place for internal corrosion and programs for flanged joints; however, many lack comprehensive programs for external corrosion. To fully reduce LOPCs a comprehensive internal and external corrosion management system is necessary. Background Many refineries have had Mechanical Integrity related audits performed during the last decade.  These audits have found many areas for improvements and programs were initiated...
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