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Accidents will happen - and not least where maintenance is concerned, both through the lack of it and, ironically, because of it. That's why the Institution of Chemical Engineers has just published its Maintenance of Process Plants, Second Edition softback, edited by Arthur Townsend (66 pages at 15 [pounds] - ISBN 0 85295 292 9).
Although written principally for chemical engineers, it provides a good, solid guide to planning and organising effective, safe plant maintenance which is applicable to all. Everything is covered - from legal requirements and the details of permits-to-work, to the do's and do not's when on-site. And, if you're in any doubt about the importance of all this, check out the accident reports in the appendix - they make chilling reading.
The first is typical. It refers to a fire on a distillation plant in which three men were killed, one seriously injured, and the plant extensively damaged. Maintenance staff had been working on a pump; when they removed the cover, hot oil was ejected - and self-ignited. The pump suction valve had not been closed. The book makes the point that it should have been blanked-off.
Having set the tone, let's look at what's going on in maintenance specific to instrumentation and control systems engineers. And, remember that proper, effective maintenance is key to the safety, efficiency and profitability of the plant at all levels.
Maintenance strategies break down into three main categories - corrective (repair after the event), time-scheduled (hours run, following recommendations and …