Previous Approach to Degradation
Regular inspections have always been a major defense against degradation of plant integrity and potential accidents. The inspection group did regular inspections, handled the evaluation of the condition, and identified potential problems in static equipment like columns, vessels, tanks, and pipe-work. They reported to the Engineering Manager.
They had very little involvement with any of the other groups in the facility, even though there was a huge amount of knowledge and expertise residing in those groups. Even the operators and the process engineering group
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were involved only in a small way. Decisions were based on the inspection and maintenance findings from shutdowns and other experiences.
This compartmentalized approach was common across the facility, so it was not considered abnormal. The result was a significant non-alignment of responsibility and an inability to influence events. Once these facts were put on the table and the approach challenged, the absurdity of the situation became apparent. This was a large facility with different plants operating in different modes with constantly varying raw material feed-stocks. As the benchmarking firm had highlighted, we needed to chase reliability and availability much harder than we had been doing so far. What we didn't need were frequent failures, unplanned shutdowns, and the resultant downtime. We wanted to minimize degradation and make things predictable.