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Striking discoveries with Risk Based Inspections

Risk Based Inspections, or RBI for short: an approach that is attracting increasing interest on the Chemelot site, but also beyond. What does this method actually involve? And how can we apply it? Our colleagues from Engineering Solutions give us a look behind the scenes.

Identifying risks to predict failure
Ahmed Mhaoui is Materials & Corrosion/RBI Specialist at Engineering Solutions. He explains what RBI involves: “This method of optimizing inspection plans is intended exclusively for static equipment, such as pressure vessels, heat exchangers and pipes. By continuously inspecting and monitoring the condition of the applied material at the most critical locations, we can predict the risks of failure. We use this knowledge to optimize maintenance and inspection plans for the remaining lifespan of the installations. This increases the reliability and availability of the installations.”

Continuously measuring a factory on the Chemelot site, even during operation
In order to be able to carry out continuous measurements, inspections are increasingly being carried out while the installation is in operation. “For example, we work with a specialist firm that investigates whether the material is showing cracks or becoming thinner,” says Ahmed. “They do this while the installation is in operation. Using special equipment, they can measure hot metal surfaces up to 400 degrees as standard, and in certain cases even higher. At the moment, these inspections are often still carried out by people, but eventually we will be using more and more sensors. As well as predictability, there is also much to be gained in terms of safety and the environment.”

Gaining new insights together
What makes RBI special is that the data from the inspections are discussed by an interdisciplinary team of experts. “If an installation component is made of iron, people with knowledge of that material will be involved in the discussions,” says Integrity Engineer Hennie Kanters. “But they will also include experts in production, process safety and inspections. By comparing all those angles, we can make some striking discoveries.”

Interest at Chemelot and beyond
In 2019, we started applying this method to some of the installations at the Chemelot site. “Our focus was primarily on the Turn Around in the spring of 2020,” Ahmed explains. “When the customer wanted to postpone it because of the coronavirus crisis, we were able to identify the risks at lightning speed, which showed that postponement was possible.” Since then, other customers at Chemelot have also shown an interest in using RBI, as has an international company outside of the site.

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