How To Fix Those Pipe Line Problems
How often do you feel totally frustrated as you attempt maintenance or process improvement works on a tangled web of unmarked pipe lines and inaccessible or non existent isolation valves ?
If your answer is “often”, then you are not alone, it is a common engineering problem ....
did I write “problem” ? …....
let me re write ....
“Opportunity For Improvement”
The good news is that it can be fixed. The bad news is that its not a “quick fix” and it will need determination, patience, a plan and an unwavering commitment to achieve.
However, as Lao Tzu, the Chinese philosopher so famously wrote “The journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step” - or, the journey to fix up those pipe line issues starts now.
So take that first step!
Piping Systems can be a constant source of angst for Engineers if they are not well designed or maintained and quite often, they are not either. Many times the systems were never designed for ready maintenance and typically over the years most systems have had undocumented and unmarked modifications which result in even more confusion and potentially dangerous maintenance and project activity.
Typical problems might include -
- Lack of isolation valves
- The wrong type of valves
- Isolation valves which are inaccessible
- Valves which are not marked
- Lack of accurate documentation or drawings of the system
- Lack of P&ID's or inaccurate P&ID's
- Lack of documented Standard Operating Procedures for Lock Out Tag Out Isolation
- Lack of operator understanding of the system
- Lack of maintenance knowledge of the system
- Poor maintenance
Generally, the first step on the journey to redemption is a dedicated resource.
Invariably trying to use existing personnel who are already over stretched or not trained in this type of process, is not going to work.
Even if they do have good knowledge of the piping systems, are they able to produce clear and unambiguous drawings and documentation.
Recognize that the work needs to be completed as a project and capitalise the work if that's what it takes to secure a dedicated resource.
The second step is to audit the systems to produce accurate drawings, schematics, P&ID's etc in CAD. Don't be tempted to cut corners. When there are accurate drawings, review the process. It often happens that successive modifications result in a dysfunctional circuit. By reviewing the circuits and schematics , it may be possible to identify improvements to the process.
The third step is to put in place a process which will build on and ensure ongoing maintenance of the system. It is important to create an ongoing professional culture of accuracy and continuous improvement.
Remember that the drawings are a “snap shot” of the system as it now stands. Almost certainly the systems will change and those changes need to be captured. Which is why there needs to be an effective Modification Approval Procedure which is also designed and managed to record those modifications.
To recap -
Obviously the points noted above should be tailored to suit a specific plant and operational system, but the fundamental principles will reap sound rewards resulting in improved Safety, Maintenance and Project activities.
- Assign a dedicated resource
- Audit the system
- Produce accurate CAD drawings of circuits and P&ID's
- Review the process
- Formulate a plan to upgrade the systems
- Action the plan
- Ensure that a Modification Approval System is in place
- Capture all “as built” modifications
Sunday 13 June, 2010 08:25 AM