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Mechanical Integrity and Reliability Audit: Part 1

World Cement,


A cement plant has various stages in its lifecycle. Whatever stage a plant is at, it can be demonstrated that completing a mechanical integrity and reliability audit can have significant benefits when engaging with an experienced auditor who provides fresh observations.

When considering the condition of an asset, decisions are required on a cyclic basis about how best to maintain and operate that asset. Equipment could be patched, repaired or reconditioned, or components may need to be changed. This can be looked at in terms of minor or major items, depending on the time and cost to make the repairs. Areas of equipment that are repeatedly failing can be designed out or new technology can be introduced to try to stop disruptions to planned kiln campaigns. Depending on the availability of raw materials and market conditions, it is often possible for clinker production to be increased – utilising the original equipment design as much as possible – by undertaking a de-bottlenecking study. The scope to do this can also be based on how conservative the original design standards were and what safety margins were incorporated in order for the original equipment to meet contractual performance guarantees. Eventually, though, all cement plants will end up at the disposal stage, which can be for a variety of reasons. However, there is a considerable market for second hand equipment in the sector, so it would not be unusual to see the closure of a cement plant, with some equipment being dismantled and installed at another location and continuing its operating life cycle there.

What is a mechanical integrity and reliability audit?

Mechanical integrity within the cement industry can be defined as the process of ensuring that equipment is fabricated from the right materials and is properly installed, maintained and replaced to prevent unplanned failures.

Therefore, if a plant management team is to achieve the above, the entire lifecycle of an asset has to be assessed, which involves understanding the design concepts and design life of the original equipment that was installed.

A reliability audit within the cement industry can be defined as a comparison between the existing cement plant reliability performance and the targeted reliability requirements from within the business plan. The reliability requirements are the standards to be used in a reliability audit to assess a cement plant’s performance. The difference between existing performance and the reliability requirements is the ‘gap’. A good reliability audit report shows a cement plant’s gaps and provides solutions to bridge those gaps.

A reliability review would not be considered the same as an audit, the main difference being that a reliability audit has a standard or set of requirements to measure existing reliability performance against.

The term audit stems from the Latin word ‘audire’, which means to ‘hear’. This is a very important aspect of a skilled auditor’s role: to ask questions and then listen to the answers and explanations for a cement plant’s existing reliability performance.

Part 1 of 2. Find part 2 here.

Written by Kevin Rudd, Independent Cement Consultants, UK. This is an abridged version of the full article, which appeared in the September 2013 issue of World Cement. Subscribers can view the full article by logging in.

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