Fired equipment TAR reviews

Fired equipment is a critical part of most refinery process units. Operating at high temperatures and potentially high pressures make these equipment items particularly risky.

Matt Caserta and Grant Jacobson

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Article Summary

Add in the presence of open flames and failures can be dramatic. In today’s refining climate, fired equipment is required to run 5 to 10 years between outages. To achieve a reliable operation for runs of this length, solid shutdown, maintenance, inspection, repair, and start-up strategies coupled with online monitoring and a well-defined operating envelope are critical.

Recently, a Midwest refinery contracted Becht to complete a detailed review of their fired equipment for an upcoming turnaround. Becht used a team of experienced subject matter experts to provide an in-depth review of more than a dozen fired equipment items. To provide a holistic approach, Becht utilised experts with backgrounds in process engineering, heat transfer, mechanical integrity, inspection, and operations. The goal of the review was to ensure the fired equipment would provide reliable operation until the next scheduled outage in 5 years.

The first step of the process consisted of reviewing data including: design criteria; operating history; inspection and NDE history; leak, repair, and engineering analysis information; and PHA information. A review of onstream thermography (IR) was also completed. While onsite, Becht worked with owner representatives from operations, maintenance, process, inspection, reliability, and PSM to review and answer any questions from the data review step, discuss concerns, and validate data gaps. Each piece of fired equipment was also walked down in the field to ensure the provided information was consistent with the actual condition of the fired equipment.

Information from the data review, onsite discussions, and field walk-downs was compiled by the Becht team and compared to the existing turnaround plan. Recommendations were made in areas where the initial turnaround plan was deficient of a critical item or had extraneous tasks. Each recommendation was also provided with justifications, citing client procedures, industry standards, and best practices. Additionally, the recommendations were risk ranked, using the owner’s Risk Matrix to provide the refinery with a prioritisation tool.

Some example results from the review were:
-    Onstream thermography recommendations
-    Practices to ensure safe shutdown of fired equipment
-    Best practices for servicing of emergency devices
-    Better anticipation of repairs
-    Selection of appropriate NDE techniques based on damage mechanisms
-    Start-up best practices

The risk-ranked recommendations with justifications provided the refinery with the ammunition needed to modify their existing shutdown plans. The review validated and improved the scope of their turnaround plans, both by better addressing critical items and eliminating unnecessary tasks. After the turnaround was completed, Becht reviewed results with the client and determined that Becht’s recommendations were spot on for the conditions found during the outage. The review also identified key online improvements and leveraged advanced thermography techniques, which Becht can support via our Fired Heaters Division, to facilitate continued improvement for the next planned turnaround. 

Becht can help you fix your equipment when it breaks, but we can also help you operate it and monitor it while it’s online. Do you know the lifecycle of your equipment? Is it operating it to its fullest potential? Is there more that you could be doing to optimise? Becht can provide a detailed review of your equipment and analysis of your data.

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