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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.

Reducing Loss of Primary Containment (LOPC's) in a Refinery

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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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Why Risk-Based Inspection (RBI) Works

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The API Inspection Codes were originally based on failure prevention and did not consider the consequences of failure or potential damage mechanisms.  Risk-based inspection (RBI) assessments result in an equipment risk ranking based on the probability of failure (a leak occurring) and the consequence associated with that leak.  Applied properly, RBI provides the benefit of increasing operating efficiencies and unit run lengths of process facilities while maintaining or reducing the current level of risk. As stated above, risk has two components, probability and consequence.  In risk-based inspection, the probability of failure is determined by evaluating the initial design conditions and the amount of damage that can potentially occur while the equipment is in operation.  Uncertainty in the model is also address by crediting previous inspections.  Consequences are commonly evaluated in terms of environmental, health, and safety impact areas or financial loss (lost opportunity, repair costs, etc.).  Consequences are also evaluated based...
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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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Mentoring Nuclear Power Plant Engineers

Mentoring-Nuclear-Engineers
As the Nuclear Power Plant workforce continues to age, it is imperative that nuclear plant supervisors and managers use as many tools as possible to mentor younger engineers. This article discusses several ways proven to be successful in mentoring younger engineers as a means of filling the voids created by the retirements of senior workforce individuals. These tools are also be effective in retaining younger engineers. The Aging Workforce It is well known that one of the nuclear power industry’s challenges is addressing its aging workforce. In a 2015 Article [Ref. 1], Power Engineering Magazine cites the following statistics: “The Nuclear Energy Institute estimates that 39 percent of the nuclear workforce will be eligible for retirement by 2018, which means the industry must hire 20,000 new workers over the next four years to replace those retiring workers.” “About 40 percent of the work force at America's electric and natural gas utilities...
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