Posted at 22 October 2019

Pressure System failure is not an option

Paul Skade
By Andy Cruse
Technical Director, Flow Control

I joined ERIKS in 1999 and have over 35 years’ experience in the pump industry. Originally from a service/repair background I have worked in many roles and enviro...

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In Silicon Valley they say "Fail early, fail fast, fail often." That may be okay when you're developing a new software app, but it won't wash with pressure equipment. Failure here can release compressed liquid, steam or other gases, can start a fire with escaping flammable liquids or gases, and can even cause a life- or property-threatening blast. So at ERIKS, we say "Test regularly, test correctly, don't fail at all."

Providing a safe workplace and safe work equipment are the employer’s responsibility. For pressure systems and equipment, the Pressure System Safety Regulations (2000) put the requirements down in writing.  Systems must be inspected, tested and certified every 12-14 months, and failure to comply may be a criminal offence.

So for the safety of others and for your own legal protection, it’s worth knowing the risks, your obligations, and how best to meet them.

Why pressure systems fail

The likelihood of failure for pressure systems varies in line with a number of factors.

For example, the higher the system pressure, the greater the stresses on components and connections. The type of liquid or gas contained and their properties will also affect the level of risk. For example, a highly corrosive substance will introduce additional risks into the system.

 

Some of these risks will not be an issue if the equipment and pipework are suitable for the substances being handled. But if they’re not, that’s another potential cause of failure. Similarly, the equipment’s age and condition will have an influence on its performance and reliability, as will the complexity and control of its operation.

However, it is not just the equipment that matters. The skills and knowledge of the people who design, manufacture and install it all have a part to play in reducing the risk and the likelihood of failure.

Effective maintenance, testing and operation are all highly important in reducing risk. That’s why the Regulations demand a written scheme of examination; require inspection in accordance with this written scheme at the intervals it prescribes; and make it a criminal offence to operate a pressure system after expiry of the resulting certificate.

Take the pressure off

As an employer, you are under huge pressure to stay safe and legal with your pressure system. ERIKS Flow Control takes the pressure off, by testing and certifying two of the most crucial components of your pressure system: the Safety Relief Valve and Pressure Relief Valve.

To help your system remain safe and help you remain compliant, ERIKS Flow Control – operating from a purpose-built facility – can provide:

  • Nitrogen and water SRV / PRV testing, up to 690 bar. The ERIKS facility has a fully armoured enclosure, remotely monitored by CCTV, for testing to the limit
  • Installation or installation support. The first step to a safe and compliant system is correct installation. ERIKS’ experienced application engineers can install your system, or provide Best Practice support to your own engineers
  • Repairs and modifications. After any major repair or modification, the whole system may need re-examination before it can be recommissioned and recertified. ERIKS can carry out work to the highest standards to ensure full compliance, and conduct subsequent testing too
  • Asset logging. Ensure your pressure system is recertified regularly, as required by the Regulations. ERIKS logs all pressure system assets passing through the Flow Control facility, enabling traceability, tracking and recertification notifications.

 

One of Silicone Valley's most successful entrepreneurs, Mark Zuckerberg, said that "The biggest risk is not taking any risk at all." But where you pressure systems are concerned, we think you'd be better listening to ERIKS than to Mark.

Pressure points

Pressure systems and equipment can be found across most industries and in many different applications. The Pressure System Safety Regulations (2000) are concerned with the uncontrolled release of stored energy in a pressure system, not with the hazardous nature of any product within the system. Examples of systems and equipment covered by the Regulations are:

  • Boilers and steam heating systems
  • Pressurised process plant and piping
  • Compressed air systems (fixed and portable)
  • Pressure cookers, autoclaves and retorts
  • Heat exchangers and refrigeration plant
  • Valves, steam traps and filters
  • Pipework and hoses
  • Pressure gauges and level indicators

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