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WILKINSON COUTTS / MATTHEWS INTEGRITY HUB: an up-to-the-minute information mix designed to help you with your lifework and career development in the asset integrity, inspection and NDE industries.

Matthew Petroleum Notes

TEST YOUR APPRECIATION
THE IN-SERVICE-V- SOURCE INSPECTOR JOB ROLE

HERE’S THE ANSWERS to the questions about the differences between the roles of new construction (shop) inspector and in-service inspector of pressure equipment.

Q1. Inspection codes

Both new-construction (source) inspections and in-service inspections of pressure equipment involve published codes of some sort. Which of these published documents is not a code that would normally be used during an in-service inspection?

a) ASME VIII-1
b) ASME B31.3
c) API 1104
d) API 579

Ans (d). API 579 is not a code, it is a Recommended Practice (RP) document used for evaluating the fitness-for-service of a corroded component so is not normally applicable to new construction. VIII-1 is a construction code for new construction of unfired pressure vessels and ASME B31.3 is one for process pipework. API 1104 is a code for the welding of pipelines. Source inspectors regularly work to these.

Q2. Source inspections of pressure equipment

Which of the following code documents would you use for specifying the welding activities of welded repairs to an ASME B31.3 process pipework system following the discovery of corrosion during an in-service inspection?

a) ASME VIII-1
b) ASME V
c) ASME PCC-2
d) API 1104

Ans (c). ASME PCC-2 (PCC stands for Post-Construction Code) is a code used to help specify repairs. For a B31.3 pipework system you would also base repair welding on ASME IX which covers weld/welder qualifications (WPS/PQRs), but this is not an answer option. ASME V is specified by ASME B31.3 but is about NDE activities, not welding activities, which is what the question asks for. API 1104 is a code for the welding of pipelines, not pipework (they are different things)

Q3. Inspection career changes

It’s getting more difficult. Which of these integrity industry career paths would you consider the most likely to see?

a) An in-service inspector of refinery equipment becoming a refinery manager
b) A source inspector of air receivers becoming an offshore in-service inspector
c) A plant designer becoming an inspector of any type
d) An in-service inspector on a refinery becoming a source inspector for small pressure plant

Let me apologize to you. The answer is None of them, it was a trick question. Let’s look at why. Feel free to disagree if you like. We’re happy to discuss them with you; just give us a call or look around our website for further information on the subjects.

a) An in-service inspector of refinery equipment becoming a refinery manager? The chance is slim to zero. In-service Inspection as a discipline sits very separate to the operational management structure of a refinery. Most refinery managers come from the ranks of chemical or petroleum engineers, and are more interested in the economics and management of producing petroleum products, rather than inspecting the plant that made it. They can have difficulty in getting excited about inspections.

b) A source inspector of air receivers becoming an offshore in-service inspector? Probably not, you are looking at a big technical skills gap here, and different personality requirements in terms of job role and lifestyle. Many source inspectors would like to move this way for the increased salary, but have to think more carefully when the reality of the change presents itself.

c)A plant designer becoming an inspector of any type? We’ve never seen it; let us know if you have. These are different skill sets which have almost no commonality with each other. Designers have skills in 2-D and 3-D computer drafting, possibly even finite element analysis or CFD (computational fluid dynamics) and like doing maths. They have to be fairly one-dimensional personal performers in these subjects in order to be any good at them. Inspectors inspect things without the burden of such a high formal level of knowledge and manage to get by. Designers would hate working as a source inspector or in-service inspector, and it wouldn’t suit them.

 d)An in-service inspector on a refinery becoming a source inspector for small pressure plant? This is technically possible if they want an easier life without working weekends and 14-hours days during shutdowns. The possibilities of 50-70% salary reduction might well take the edge off the celebrations however.

Q4. The depth of technical knowledge required

Be careful with this final question, you have to think carefully about it.

Think of the source (new construction) and subsequent in-service inspection of a ASME VIII-1 pressure vessel (MDMT -20/+100 degC, MAWP 20barG in cyclic service) for use on an onshore refinery plant.

Question: Which one of these statements would you say is the most true about the job of inspecting this vessel?

a) You don’t need to understand the ASME VIII construction codeif you are just doing in-service inspections.
b) Source (new construction) inspection needs more engineering experience because you have to assess design aspects.
c) Many source inspectors are not specifically certificated for that job
d) Most in-service inspectors are not specifically certificated for that job

The best answer is (c)

Here are the answer options again, with our comments. Feel free to disagree if you like. We’re still happy to discuss them with you; just give us a call.

Option a: You don’t need to understand the ASME VIII construction code if you are just doing in-service inspections.

Answer: Wrong, yes, you do. You need to understand the real meanings of the design parameters of MDMT and MAWP. You may need to use the ASME VIII-1 formulae method to calculate the acceptability of wall-thinning i.e. see if the vessel is still code-compliant. This gets a bit tricky, particularly when nozzles are involved.

Option b: Source (new construction) inspection needs more engineering experience because you have to assess design aspects.

Answer: Wrong, in-service inspection needs much more experience. In source inspection you are working to an Inspection and Test plan (ITP) to a common format, defined by the PED, design code and/or well-established practice. All you have to do is follow its steps. In in-service inspection you have to consider all the plant operating parameters, potential damage mechanisms (there are 60+ of them) and use a lot of initiative and experience to know what to look for. The fact that the vessel is in cyclic service (did you spot that) makes things very unpredictable, due to the effects of fatigue and crack propagation.

Also, source inspectors do not normally do full code design assessments, someone else does that.

Option c: Many source inspectors are not specifically certificated for that job

Answer: This, would you believe it? is the true one. Most just have to convince their employers of their experience of pressure equipment manufacture and inspection and off they go. There are some caveats for the nuclear industry and specific requirements in a few countries but most source inspectors are uncertificated for that specific role. A new API Source Inspector Fixed Equipment (SIFE) personnel certificate programme has recently been introduced to help rationalize this situation. See details of the API SIFE programme here.

Option d: Most in-service inspectors are not specifically certificated for that job  

Answer: You can argue this is a matter of degree, but it’s generally much less true than the previous option. In-service inspectors on refinery plant have had the benefit of the API 510(vessels), API 570 (pipework) and API 653 (storage tanks) Inspector Certification for the past 20 years or so. There are thousands of these certificate-holders round the world, not just in the USA. See details of the API 510/570/653 Certification Programme here.You can see the exam dates on our Exam calendars page

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