Mechanical and electronic devices need maintenance

All devices (Mechanical and electronic) can fail and need maintenance. This is simply an undeniable fact. However the extent to which this is acknowledged and put into practice varies enormously from facility to facility. Some plants are very proactive and understand their ability to operate with a high degree of availability depends on keeping everything in tip-top condition. At the other extreme are plants that simply don’t fix anything until it threatens or stops production. It’s no surprise that safety incidents tend to happen to facilities more toward the second group.

Using a Safety Instrumented System in accordance to today’s safety standards requires the implementation of appropriate maintenance procedures and a proof test regiment.

The incidents addressed in detail on this site generally have a maintenance element as a major contributing factor. Some device is not working as it should, or a technician did not follow through. In many incidents, there are multiple maintenance failures that compound a small problem until it becomes a major threat.

One aspect that appears again and again is the realization that these deficiencies are known by individuals at the site. Operators or maintenance technicians are aware that the level sensor on a tank doesn’t work and yet do not act. The process continues to run in spite of a major hole in a critical level of protection, or perhaps many holes. There are far more situations like that than we probably realize, but through luck or the intervention of clever operators, those plants continue to run on borrowed time.

One aspect that appears again and again is the realization that these deficiencies are known by individuals at the site. Operators or maintenance technicians are aware that the level sensor on a tank doesn’t work and yet do not act. The process continues to run in spite of a major hole in a critical level of protection, or perhaps many holes. There are far more situations like that than we probably realize, but through luck or the intervention of clever operators, those plants continue to run on borrowed time.