Practical Approach to Vendor Package HAZOP Studies and Preparing the Package Vendor for the Ordeal

Global Congress on Process Safety
April 3, 2012 - 12:00am

During the design phase of a project, vendor packages (e.g., compressors, water desalination) are typically treated as a "black box" with a very specific function, and the typical perspective of the buyer/owner/operator is that safety issues have been thoroughly vetted, based on the package vendor having designed and built a large number of similar units. Although in many cases, this is true, in other cases, low-probability/high-consequence events just haven't yet occurred on the systems that have been installed or the system operator may have made retrofits that have addressed potential safety issues. Regardless, the thorough evaluation of vendor packages, prior to acceptance/installation, as part of a holistic safety review is critical.

When structuring a HAZOP Study that will properly challenge the design, a key issue is the knowledge, background, and state of preparedness of the vendors that participate in your HAZOP Study. Many individuals may be very familiar with the normal functioning of the system, but not so much the dynamic response of the system to upsets or things that might challenge safety limits. In other cases, the individual sent to participate in the HAZOP Study may not have been exposed to and knowledgeable of the types of the design limits that are pursued during the HAZOP Study. Another key issue that is often not investigated is the potential interactions between the vendor package and the process system. The HAZOP Study must also thoroughly review the vendor-provided information to ensure that turnover packages include all of the key process safety information that may be required for company requirements and regulatory programs.

The key objective of this paper is to provide practical tips on key issues that should be evaluated as part of the HAZOP Study, and to provide checklists and timelines that can help the vendor representatives that are attending your HAZOP Study prepare. The tables of key information that the vendor should be prepared to discuss and the charts containing timelines for preparing the vendor for the HAZOP Study that will be provided in the paper will provide definitive guidelines and tips for ensuring that the vendor is properly prepared to support the HAZOP Study. The following contains a general outline of the paper:

- Background
- Evolution of the use of packaged units in the design process and the importance of through evaluation, BEFORE YOU TAKE OWNERSHIP
- Importance and Benefits of Challenging the Vendor and Thoroughly Evaluating (via HAZOP) Vendor Packages
- Examples from one project of safety issues that had not been addressed in the vendor-provided information
- How to help your vendor get prepared for the HAZOP Study, including a master checklist of issues not always considered by the Vendor
- Timelines for preparation for a HAZOP Study that includes a vendor package
- Characteristics to look for in the individuals from the vendor company that are participating in your HAZOP Study
- Successful application to a large coal seam gas project

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