Process piping is a necessary component of any process plant—just like your body needs to circulate blood throughout the body, your facility needs to circulate fluids throughout its system in order to do the work. But no plant operates in a vacuum, and circulating those fluids can wear out your process piping to the point of failure, which can be catastrophic for your facility. Here are three of the most common reasons why process piping systems fail and what you can do to prevent future failures.
Metal can carry out piping processes, but it’s not an indestructible material. Corrosion can strike your pipes as a result of general wear and tear, particularly if the fluids are acidic, high in temperature, or under high pressure. Corrosion strikes weak points in your piping first, such as joints or seams. The fluid will wear away at tiny crevices or pockets in the piping. To prevent problems, utilize cathodic protection, a system that harnesses an electric charge to stave off corrosion.
We’re not talking about people having a rough day at the office—though if a piping system fails, it can certainly become one. Rather, forces inside and outside of the piping system can place undue stress on the piping, causing pipes to weaken and burst. These factors include erratic or dramatic shifts in temperature, pressure, and system fatigue. Even something as innocuous as repeatedly turning the system off and on can lead to fatigue stress due to the rapid changes in pressure.
Poor Initial Design
As a facilities manager, you may inherit a process piping system that wouldn’t necessarily meet your specifications. Many people don’t consider what goes into developing process piping, making this a common cause of system failure. Builders may not accurately anticipate the workload, or changes in fluid temperatures. One of the most common reasons why process piping systems fail is the result of a mechanical contractor that lacks the expertise specific to a particular process plant. If shoddy workmanship is the culprit in your piping system failure, you may very well be looking at installing a brand-new system.