Tharakan, J.

Suncor Energy Inc., Calgary, Alberta, Canada

John Tharakan is a Corporate Static Equipment Specialist at Suncor Energy Inc. in Canada. He specializes in mechanical integrity, with focuses on troubleshooting, failure analysis and fitness for service. He holds an MS degree in mechanical engineering design and has more than 30 yr of experience in the oil industry.

Engineering Practices: Develop a questioning attitude

Tharakan, J., Suncor Energy Inc.

A questioning attitude is a trait that all engineers should cultivate. Most scientific inventions have resulted from such an attitude, and the classic example is Sir Isaac Newton’s story of developing the law of gravity while seeking the answer to the simple question of why an apple had fallen from a tree.

Minimize engineering errors with competency and proper engineering review

Tharakan, J., Suncor Energy Inc.

Industry has seen numerous engineering errors during the commissioning phase of projects.

A deeper examination of thermal expansion issues in process equipment and piping

Tharakan, J., Suncor Energy Inc.

Piping and process equipment that operate at high temperatures experience thermal expansion. If free thermal expansion is restrained, mechanical stresses are created within the component.

Vibration studies offer valuable lessons for correcting problematic operations

Tharakan, J., Suncor Energy Inc.

All plants have a vibration monitoring program for rotating equipment. Portable instruments measure vibration at the bearing housing of machines at horizontal (x), vertical (y) and axial (z) directions. The frequency spectrum helps diagnose the causes of vibration.

Identify and correct coke drum foundation bolt failures

Tharakan, J., Suncor Energy Inc.

Coke drums in many operating plants experience foundation bolt failures.

Use root cause analysis to examine failure of a cooling water pump

Tharakan, J., Suncor Energy Inc.

Without a holistic approach and a structured root cause analysis, it is hard to unearth complex and multiple issues, particularly design deficiencies.

Evaluate piping for displacement-controlled loading

Tharakan, J., Anisuzzaman, M., Suncor Energy Inc.

In a Canadian case study, new piping under construction suffered some settlement in the underground portion, as evidenced by soil movement and slight deflection of the above-ground section.

Flare header failure: An investigation

Tharakan, J., Suncor Energy Inc.

A 60-in. flare header suffered three identical failures with buckling and cracking at the circumferential weld at the bottom of the pipe. The failures are believed to have originated during hot relief..