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Plant Engineering

Can a Process Plant stay Forever Young?

| Author / Editor: Dominik Stephan* / Dominik Stephan

Livelong learning for process plants and an impulse towards responsibility - Can we achieve a "zero-error-production"?
Livelong learning for process plants and an impulse towards responsibility - Can we achieve a "zero-error-production"? (Source: © industrieblick/Fotolia.com)

Stimuli for plant engineering and operation from service life consideration to wear and fatigue models — How long is the service life of your plant? A recent Dechema event tracked down the links between maintenance, diagnostics and analytical procedures … Also present: Materials specialists, new guidelines and impulses from practice. Lifelong learning for the service life of the plant and a call for individual responsibility. How realistic is the zero-error-plant?

Chemical plants have a hard life: Major temperature fluctuations, mechanical stress and corrosive media attack the substance of pipes, vessels, apparatuses and process equipment alike. The effects of such factors on the service life of plants and components cannot, however, be predicted easily — especially, as in most cases of actual operation, several load types come.

The interactions between these factors and strains are difficult to model and yet, they determine how much and for how long a plant can be used. Materials experts and plant builders are equally in demand to evaluate these factors that affect the service life of a plant.

The German chemical association Dechema believes that also process developers, designers, engineers, testing agencies and monitoring equipment suppliers must coordinate their work such, as to guarantee a safe operation. The organisation has thus, together with its technical community for materials, design and service life, created a forum which offers specialists from all these areas the possibility to exchange experiences, work out problem solutions and to initiate future developments.

54 Billion Euros at Stake

It is always about the money — lots of money, that is: Chemical and pharmaceutical companies in Europe alone spend about 13.5 billion Euro year after year for direct maintenance measures like repairs, servicing, parts exchange or plant turnarounds. In addition, there are an additional 40.5 billion of indirect costs attributable to production losses, quality losses and warehouse costs that come as a side-effect of maintenance procedures.

Thus, the chemical industry with its cost-intensive plants and processes as well as the comparatively low personnel cost portion in value creation is the most maintenance intensive of all sectors. Plant effectiveness with simultaneously reduced total cost of ownership (TCO) becomes the key criterion for the decision-maker in the process industry. The degree of utilisation, production and capacity and naturally the production quality will be taken into consideration — and that over the entire service life of a plant.

Additional Information
 
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