October 2015

Fluid Flow and Rotating Equipment

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

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

Tharakan, J., Suncor Energy Inc.

Most plants have a bad-actor elimination program, but sometimes operators fall into the trap of normalization of deviation. Normalization of deviation is a long-term phenomenon in which a lower standard of performance becomes the accepted norm; when that occurs, the root causes of failures remain undetected. This case study focuses on a 250-hp steam-turbine-driven cooling water pump in one of Suncor Energy Inc.’s plants in Canada. The plant had four identical vertical cooling water pumps, of which three were operated and one was kept as a spare. One of the pumps was steam-turbine-driven, and the other three pumps were electric-motor-driven. From installation in 1982, the steam-turbine-drive

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