In this new column from South Africa’s Institute for NDT, SAINT, president Keith Cain remembers the early days of shut-downs and RTS projects and draws some lessons about the importance of better planning, leadership, recording and reporting.
During my 19-year career in NDT, I have had the valuable opportunity to be part of four shutdowns at a petrochemical plant and a return-to-service (RTS) project at a power station. This is a short collection of my experiences at these shutdowns/projects.
Way back when at these petrochemical plants, and just qualified in a few NDT methods, I attended my first shutdown. We were very green then, with zero experience in inspecting tanks, heat exchangers, piping and other related equipment. The inexperience was compounded when told to use a plant layout drawing to find the specific equipment that we had to inspect. At the onset of the shutdown, the drawing was usually only A3 in size but after a lot of begging we were able to get a bigger one.
A lot of time was spent initially looking for equipment within the plant that we had to inspect. Soon we got into the habit of observing and mentally recording the tag numbers of the vessels that were situated within the plant during our work and walking to and from the plant. The acronyms TK, VL, and EX became our second language.