Improving safety and reliability in process industry plants

Development of safety and reliability programmes for crucial plants

Ahmad Hosni, MSc, a Functional Safety Senior Engineer, Certified Functional Safety Expert/Professional and Certified Fire Protection Specialist, has just published a book on process safety and reliability programmes for process industry plants. e-tech publishes here a summary of the main findings of his book. 

Ahmad Hosni book on safety and reliability in process industry plants
Ahmad Hosni recently published a book on process safety and reliability programmes for process industry plants

Following up on previous work and experience

Hosni, contributed an article for e-tech on Asset integrity and functional safety in 2015. The article drew lessons from the February 2015 condensate leak incident on the Gudrun North Sea offshore platform operated by Norway's Statoil company.

Hosni shared with e-tech some of the findings of the book he recently published. This book focuses on process safety and reliability programme for the process industry plants (chemical, petrochemical, oil, gas, power generation, mining and nuclear power plants).

Developing such a programme faces a lot of challenges, Hosni says.

This leads to the spread of common imperfections and even mistakes in such programmes. In addition, the availability of too many engineering, operation and maintenance Standards and practices (like IEC 61511, Functional safety – Safety instrumented systems for the process industry sector, American Petroleum Institute (API) 14C, Recommended Practice for Analysis, Design, Installation, and Testing of Basic Surface Safety Systems for Offshore Production Platforms, etc.) that were not developed to be aligned, contributed to inconsistency in many of the programmes developed.

The relatively new approach in IEC 61511 and in IEC 61513:2011, Nuclear power plants – Instrumentation and control important to safety – General requirements for systems, did not introduce new findings but rather organized the risk-based design approach whose basics have already been known from before and required by some regulations, Hosni says.

The Standards introduced new terms and guidance on how to achieve the design and perform maintenance in a systematic and consistent way. The new terms introduced are like “functional safety”, which, in IEC 61511 does not only include safety-instrumented systems but also other protection layers (like pressure relief valves).

IEC 61511 and IEC 61513 a possible answer for most safety barriers

Can the standardization developed in IEC 61511 and IEC 61513 be applied to all safety barriers? The answer, says Hosni, is yes for most barriers especially those that aim at preventing fire, explosion, flammable and toxic releases. The benefit of this is significant improvement in safety and cost savings estimated at some 10% of capital expenditure and 30% of operational expenditure per plant. The real question is: How to design and operate the plant that way in a fully-integrated and consistent manner?

Process safety, reliability programmes, and challenges explored

Hosni’s book, “Development of a process safety and reliability program for the process industryplants” discusses the elements of process safety and reliability programmes for the process industry plants (chemical, petrochemical, oil, gas, power generation, mining and nuclear power plants). Moreover, it discusses the common imperfections and challenges that such programmes have in plants built until now. Furthermore, it recommends better practices to be followed in developing these programmes and each element they include. It also provides insights on cost and its balance with safety and reliability especially since, when Hosni started writing this book, oil prices dropped significantly, something that happened also more than once over the history of the oil industry.

As described in the standardization process presented in IEC 61511 and IEC 61513, plant design until decommissioning is an interlinked process.

Therefore, all activities need to be connected together and consistent and this while avoiding redundancy and inconsistencies.

This implies restructuring engineering teams to achieve consistency, safety and save cost. It also implies aligning safety and reliability studies like quantitative risk analysis (QRA), hazard and operability study (Hazop), consequence modelling, layer of protection analysis (LOPA), safety integrity level (SIL) assessment, hazardous area classification, fugitive emissions, valve tightness and the design of safeguards like alarms, trips, relief valves, protective barriers and dikes, etc. and the inspection and maintenance programmes.

Hosni’s book gives a comprehensive review of works published previously and more recently, followed by an analysis of a case study showing the typical weakness points common in many plants design and maintenance. It further explains how to carry out the restructuring and configuration within the design and engineering phase, as well as the operational phase of the plant till its decommissioning.

Several common design cases are also discussed with recommendations on how to organize the design in the safest and most cost-effective manner.

All the information contained in this book should be of interest to engineers and other experts involved in the design, operation and management of process industry plants. It is also worth noting that the book is now an IChemE Global Award Finalist

Reference: Ahmad Hosni (2017), Development of a process safety and reliability program for the process industryplants

*Ahmad Hosni, MSc, is a Functional Safety Senior Engineer (FS Eng), Certified Functional Safety Expert/Professional (CFSE/CFSP) with TÜV SÜD/CFSE Board CFSP, TÜV Rheinland, as well as a National Fire Protection Association/Certified Fire Protection Specialist (NFPA/CFPS)