A survey undertaken by UK flowmeter specialist Litre Meter has found that positive material identification (PMI) is critical in maintaining the integrity of process and flow systems in the oil and gas industry.
PMI is a well accepted analytical materials testing and materials identification technique used within the metal alloy industry. It guarantees the materials’ chemical composition as required for quality control.
PMI testing allows manufacturers to ensure that every part in a process system conforms to specification, to identify the correct alloy grade where a critical part is to be replaced and to facilitate inward goods inspection to ensure all bought-in materials are to specification.
The survey found that 60 per cent of respondents – engineering and technical managers in the oil and gas and processing industries – believe that PMI testing avoids the failure of critical parts and ensures the safety function of a component within it. All respondents said that PMI is also essential in certifying that instruments comply with specification standards and plays a central role in the purchase decision making process.
In terms of ongoing routine maintenance, 80% of respondents to the survey indicated that using PMI at the manufacturing stage and the provision of historic data is an effective way of tracking specified components during replacement and routine repair work.
Responses to the survey further indicated that data provision ensures that identical components in different materials are not cross-contaminated. Knowing what the system started with and the status of the system at any point in time enables effective decision-making, the survey found. In addition, 80 per cent said that the PMI process helps in reducing installation and maintenance costs.
Oddly, only 40% thought that PMI could solve issues. These included, for example, corrosion resistance and therefore being able to identify products which may or may not be fit for purpose.
The survey confirms that using PMI correctly can help to avoid the potential failure of a critical component which could lead, in the worst case, to a catastrophic failure of a process and loss of life.
Litre Meter CEO Charles Wemyss said: “There has been increased focus on safety issues in the offshore sector over recent years. We want to make sure that our manufacturing focus is on safety in relation to both the environment and industry trends. Issues surrounding the environment and hydrocarbon releases, asset aging and life extension drive the focus on safety. We want to be able to help in the process of recognising hazards and reducing risk as well as help engineers take ownership of risk and asset integrity through proving assertions about the functionality and construction of instruments.
“Asset integrity management ensures that the people, systems, processes and resources that deliver integrity are in place, in use and will perform on demand over the asset’s lifecycle. Being able to prove assertions about the manufacture and functionality of equipment are vital in this process and PMI is important within that.”
Earlier this year Litre Meter conducted surveys of the use of Safety Integrity Levels (SIL) in the specification of instrumentation in the oil and gas sector and the relevance of the EU Pressure Equipment Directive outside Europe. The results of the SIL survey are published at http://tiny.cc/sil-result and the results of the PED survey can be found at http://tinyurl.com/PED-results.