Risk management, or lack thereof, invariably affects the profitability of operations and may, if neglected, affect the survival of specific corporations. This applies also to specific units or plants within corporations. There have been numerous instances where catastrophic failures of equipment, that could have been avoided, have resulted in the closure of the operating plants involved. This included catastrophic incidences resulting in serious loss of life, injury to personnel, or damage to the environment.
Additionally, excessive deterioration of equipment resulting in repeated leak-type failures or failures of operating machinery such as compressors, turbines, or other equipment which necessitate unscheduled outages can also increase operating costs. Due to this factor, operating plants or units are no longer profitable or viable. This may also cause the plant owners to forcibly close their facility. In many instances, however, such plant closures could have been avoided if the equipment in the plant were operated and maintained in a safe manner, minimizing interruptions of production.
Over the long term, the justification of any business, or plant, or unit operation is the profitability that it generates for the owners of the plant. The ever-increasing concerns about safety, driven by OSHA and other regulatory requirements, and tightening environmental compliance laws, further emphasizes the need for preventative maintenance.
Effective risk management, which represents a very complex business, involves one of several aspects that can contribute significantly to the profitability and survival of these operations. Meaningful inspections that are intelligently scheduled and performed by highly experienced personnel can prevent most failures. Inexperienced or untrained inspectors have rejected equipment that is not likely to ever fail in service.
Preventative and predictive maintenance considerations, meaningful inspections with experienced interpretations of the results, and realistic failure analyses will be discussed in this paper in conjunction with typical examples that will be illustrated.