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Misapplied Gauges Can Lead to Crisis

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TJ McDermott
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There's a LOT missing from this article
TJ McDermott   3/22/2014 3:19:19 PM
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Where these misapplied gauges temperature gauges?  Or were they gauges measuring other parameters (pressure?  flow?) which were exposed to temperatures outside their normal operating conditions?

30% of the gauges were "red" needing immediate replacement because they were already failed?  What other conditions (presumably yellow and green) are there, and what criteria is used to classify the gauges?

If so many gauges were misapplied, and so many were being replaced routinely, why did management permit this situation to go on so long?  There WAS a fire and the article implies gross incompetence either by the designer, by maintenance for allowing the situation to perpetuate, or both.

What does "there had been problems with proliferation" mean?  What was was rapidly growing in numbers?  Gauge failures?

William K.
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Re: There's a LOT missing from this article
William K.   3/23/2014 10:27:17 PM
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Quite an interesting article, and certainly quite a bit of missing information. BUT I don't agree that a company should need to, or have to, train employees to read the capabilities of instrumentation that they apply. That is the reason that an organization should hire qualified people, rather than the cheapest help that they can get to show up for work. Engineers able to understand the requirements for a piece of instrumantaion such as a gage may need a bit more pay, but the added skill is usually worth the price.

Of course it is also possible that a purchasing person made the choice based soley on purchase price, after being given an incomplete list of requirements, or even a complete list. Purchasing departments do have a record of changing selections to reduce the price, and often without telling the engineer that they have done it. 

In this particular instance, there are ways to isolate gages from high temperature process materials, which could be another way to solve the problem. But we don't have enough information to verify that possibility.

mrdon
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Gold
Re: There's a LOT missing from this article
mrdon   3/24/2014 12:32:04 AM
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William K

I agree. The article is quite interesting but there seems to be some important pieces to this technical puzzle missing. I agree, training is important when rolling out a new process or design practice but there's more to the story than this. I curious interms of the test data validating the accuracy of the gauges. Also, where the gauges tested in a control environment prior to using them in a production setting to ensure proper monitoring capabiity?

William K.
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Platinum
Re: There's a LOT missing from this article
William K.   3/24/2014 12:32:53 PM
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@MrDon, I have worked at places that never tested components prior to installation, and at others that required that functionality and calibration be verified on almost every item used. Those companies are still in existance.

For pressure sensors the calibration would be verified before installation and the sensor system calibration would be verified immediately after installation. So no initial system problems developed. But we always selected sensors adequate for the application in order to avoid the costs of repairs and replacements later on. And we very seldom had sensor problems.

mrdon
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Gold
Re: There's a LOT missing from this article
mrdon   4/14/2014 10:11:55 PM
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WilliamK

All valid points. It's good to know when an engineering process has been developed and validated under a production setting the results are consistently repeatable. Your points definitely hit the mark.

William K.
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Platinum
Re: There's a LOT missing from this article
William K.   4/14/2014 10:32:41 PM
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MrDon, aside from always wanting to produce very good equipment, I never had any budget for doing things over, so in order to make a decent profit we always had to do things right the first time. That made our costs lower than those of our competitors. And I often mentioned it to our customers, that we could charge less because we always got things right the first time. Yes, it does sound like bragging but it was the truth. At least at those companies we did it that way. When I worked at the startup not all management choices were so good.

mrdon
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Gold
Re: There's a LOT missing from this article
mrdon   4/15/2014 12:31:31 AM
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WilliamK

I don't see it as bragging but presenting the facts as they are. What you describe is the goal of engneers in most companies wanting to do it right the first time. Errors are costly and if you have a well oil engineering development process the mistakes can definitely be kept to a mininum.

Greg M. Jung
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Platinum
Preventative Actions for Failures
Greg M. Jung   3/23/2014 12:56:03 PM
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I don't know the entire design of this system, but it seems that that failure detection is built around a dependence upon the reading of a single gauge (single failure point detection).  If  true, this would be risky because even if the proper gauge is being used, it could still fail in other ways and cause the same fire again.  It may be better to add other detection methods in addition to the gauges being used.

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