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Production Plant Problem

Normally, there’ll be less or no problem when a production plant is running smoothly. The supervisors and plant operators will be happy taking care of a normal running plant. The executives and engineers will monitor and optimize the processing parameters and ensure all utilities consumption such as water, electricity, steam, air, chemicals, natural gas, LFO, diesel etc are kept at the lower side. Once in a while there’ll be some problems such as leaking mechanical seal in a centrifugal pump or the level transmitter signal is not showing the right reading. Well, those are just some minor maintenance problem and could be easily entertained by the fitters and technician.

However, the big test is when the plant is stopping (or starting). A plant which is running smoothly will be interrupted and stopped (vice versa). The utilities consumption will be higher than normal. The temperature, pressure, flow rate will be disrupted. The plant operators will adjust certain processing parameters and also a few valves in order to stop the plant safely. The supervisor must properly and carefully coordinate the plant stoppage (or starting). At this point, the experience of the supervisor and operators plays a very significant role. Operating the stoppage (or starting) of the plant just by referring to the working instruction or manual will not be sufficient. For me, I’ll be confident if the stopping (and starting) of the plant is led by an experienced staff/supervisor. It’s even better if a senior executive or engineer could be around to monitor and oversee any problems or possible danger.

There were cases where serious accident/disaster occurred during starting up (or commissioning) of a plant. In a case 2 years ago in a plant next to my work place, the distillation column was caught by a blazing fire leaving 3 staffs crying helplessly for assistance on top of the highest roof above the column. We thought those unlucky staffs would lose their lives either by being burnt to death or from injuries after jumping down the 80 meter column to the ground (if they could not stand the heat). Luckily the fire brigade finally came and used their ladder crane system to fetch the trapped staffs from the almost melting structure. There must be something gone terribly wrong during that particular plant start up. That’s why we need to be extra careful and have ample manpower to assist on the plant stoppage or starting up.

In the next post, I’ll share 3 problems that we faced during our plant stopping and starting up last week, which made a lot of us miserable. You’ll learn these real problems that none of us ever expected it to happen. Check it out later…

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posted by zaki yamani @ 12:32 AM,

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The Author

zyz

I’m Zaki. I used to be a project, process and chemical engineer. Few years ago I successfully became a Chartered Engineer (IChemE) and Professional Engineer (BEM). I'm now employed as a chemical engineering educator/researcher/consultant. Hope you like reading my blog. I welcome any feedback from you. My email: zaki.yz[alias]gmail.com. TQ!


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