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Consider procedure cards, technical books and maintenance conferences for training

03.01.2012  |  Bloch, H. P.,  Hydrocarbon Processing Staff, 

Keywords: [training] [engineer] [best practices] [rotating equipment] [procedures] [employers]

Because our memories are imperfect and we don’t want to risk making mistakes, we learned to jot down brief reminder notes on paper. Some people call it a cheat sheet, or a checklist. An airline pilot will find a set of checklists in the cockpit. Even after hundreds of successful takeoffs and landings, the pilot would use the checklist. Chances are that consistently using such a checklist is a condition of employment for airline cockpit crews.

Errors are costly and dangerous.

Due to the consequences from errors, a few best-of-class petrochemical companies issue pertinent checklists to every plant operator, as shown in Fig. 1. One best-of-class petrochemical company is Esso Chemicals—predecessor of the ExxonMobil (EM) Corp. Whenever the Esso operators are patrolling their process units, they have the checklists in their shirt pockets. Today, Esso and its successor affiliates still believe that an informed workforce is a happy, responsible and productive partner. In 2012, EM’s lube marketing branch is fulfilling a teaching and information-sharing role by organizing a lubrication-oriented maintenance symposiums that will be held in several cities in the US, Canada and Mexico.* As in previous years, the attendees will hear reliability-focused messages that are not presented elsewhere. Just as on a dozen or so occasions last year, it will be this writer’s privilege to make two different presentations at each venue.

  Fig. 1. Shirt-pocket checklists used at a
  best-of-class plant in 1989.  

But even if you cannot attend, remember our checklist message. At best-of-class companies, unit supervisors lead by example. They, too, have these checklists with them and they will look at them every time a machine is being started or stopped or—in the case of valves—when an adjustment has to be made. Also, at best-of-class companies, books are still within reach of operators and technical staff. The Internet is not an adequate substitute for good books. Table 1 is a partial reading list for reliability engineers. HP


* Note: The Mobil Lubricants Maintenance Symposium will be held in various cities throughout North America. More information on the dates and locations for these symposiums can be found online at: www.travelhq.com/events/exxonmobil2012/customerindex.mtc.

The author 

Heinz P. Bloch is Hydrocarbon Processing’s Reliability/Equipment Editor. A practicing consulting engineer with 50 years of applicable experience, he advises process plants worldwide on failure analysis, reliability improvement and maintenance cost-avoidance topics. 


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Javad Adl

It could be marvelous if essential Failure Rates library also was given.

Deepak Chaware

Good you wrote about the importance of checklists. Our experience with checklists is very encouraging. In our refinery the checklists for vendor drawings checking reduced the time for drawing approval to 20%. Checklist made it possible to use fresh engineering graduates for this crucial job with far less supervision. You will appreciate this in view of dirth of skilled people.
Pl keep me posted about your forthcoming articles mentioned in above article.

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