(14c) Is It Time for an Overhaul? Deciding between Short-Term and Long-Term Solutions in Aging Infrastructure

Authors: 
Dee, S., Exponent
Walters, M., Exponent, Inc.
Cox, B. L., Exponent, Inc.
Ogle, R., Exponent, Inc.
Many facilities in the chemical industry are faced with the challenges presented by aging infrastructure. Companies recognize that over the next generation of operation, investment in upgrading facilities will rise as the wear and tear on equipment continues. While it may seem straightforward to replace key equipment, systems, or processes before they fail, facilities may be faced with a much more complicated decision: Is it better to implement a short-term fix or perform a complete system overhaul? The analysis that surrounds this decision is complex for many reasons. First, it often seeks a well-established understanding of historical operation and the current state of the aging assets. Second, various options may be available for implementation as solutions without a clear optimal choice given cost, schedule, and technology constraints. Lastly, it may also require foresight to ensure that any long-term strategies do not become obsolete shortly after implementation. This paper focuses on the evaluation processes that go into deciding if issues with aging infrastructure are better suited for short-term or long-term fixes. An overview of the issues presented by aging infrastructure will be presented. Then various guidance documents and decision evaluation tools will be reviewed and compared. Finally, a case study where aging infrastructure was alleged to contribute to an incident will be discussed. In the case study, wall thinning was observed in a piping network, and the facility was faced with a decision to do partial replacement, complete replacement, or more frequent inspection and monitoring. An evaluation of these potential options using the approaches discussed will be presented.

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