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Proceedings Paper

Proactive life extension of pressure vessels
Author(s): Lloyd Mager
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Paper Abstract

For a company to maintain its competitive edge in today's global market every opportunity to gain an advantage must be exploited. Many companies are strategically focusing on improved utilization of existing equipment as well as regulatory compliance. Abbott Laboratories is no exception. Pharmaceutical companies such as Abbott Laboratories realize that reliability and availability of their production equipment is critical to be successful and competitive. Abbott Laboratories, like many of our competitors, is working to improve safety, minimize downtime and maximize the productivity and efficiency of key production equipment such as the pressure vessels utilized in our processes. The correct strategy in obtaining these objectives is to perform meaningful inspection with prioritization based on hazard analysis and risk. The inspection data gathered in Abbott Laboratories pressure vessel program allows informed decisions leading to improved process control. The results of the program are reduced risks to the corporation and employees when operating pressure retaining equipment. Accurate and meaningful inspection methods become the cornerstone of a program allowing proper preventative maintenance actions to occur. Successful preventative/predictive maintenance programs must utilize meaningful nondestructive evaluation techniques and inspection methods. Nondestructive examination methods require accurate useful tools that allow rapid inspection for the entire pressure vessel. Results from the examination must allow the owner to prove compliance of all applicable regulatory laws and codes. At Abbott Laboratories the use of advanced NDE techniques, primarily B-scan ultrasonics, has provided us with the proper tools allowing us to obtain our objectives. Abbott Laboratories uses B-scan ultrasonics utilizing a pulse echo pitch catch technique to provide essential data on our pressure vessels. Equipment downtime is reduced because the nondestructive examination usually takes place while our vessels are in service. As the inspection takes place we are able to view a real time image of detected discontinuities on a video monitor. The B-scan ultrasonic technique is allowing us to perform fast accurate examinations covering up to 95% of the surface area of each pressure vessel. Receiving data on 95% of a pressure vessel provides us with a lot of useful information. We use this data to determine the condition of each pressure vessel. Once the condition is known the vessels are classed by risk. The risk level is then managed by making decisions related to repair, operating parameters, accepting and monitoring or replacement of the equipment. Inspection schedules are set at maximum intervals and reinspection is minimized for the vessels that are not at risk. The remaining life of each pressure vessel is determined, mechanical integrity is proven and regulatory requirements are met. Abbott Laboratories is taking this proactive approach because we understand that our process equipment is a critical element for successful operation. A run to failure practice would never allow Abbott Laboratories to achieve the corporation's objective of being the world's leading health care company. Nondestructive state of the art technology and the understanding of its capabilities and limitations are key components of a proactive program for life extension of pressure vessels. 26

Paper Details

Date Published: 15 March 1998
PDF: 14 pages
Proc. SPIE 3398, Nondestructive Evaluation of Utilities and Pipelines II, (15 March 1998); doi: 10.1117/12.302521
Show Author Affiliations
Lloyd Mager, Abbott Labs. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 3398:
Nondestructive Evaluation of Utilities and Pipelines II
Walter G. Reuter, Editor(s)

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