(107b) The Final Step to Success – Tower Internals Inspection Part 1 | AIChE

(107b) The Final Step to Success – Tower Internals Inspection Part 1


Grave, E. - Presenter, ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company
Tanaka, P. - Presenter, ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company

An effective inspection program must be implemented early in the Engineering/Procurement/Construction phase and defined during Front End Engineering Design. Suppliers, contractors, and subcontractors must be part of the overall program, but most importantly, owners and operators must take a more proactive approach to field inspections. The most undesirable design mistakes are those that have not been identified during the drawing review stage. Subcontractors lack expertise in fractionation and separation to catch these design errors in the field.

Successful startup and operation of fractionation towers rely on quality design, fabrication, and installation. As a project proceeds from design towards installation, the cost, complexity, and time to implement any required corrective action substantially increases while the number of practical corrective options decreases. Although identifying and correcting issues is best done during the design phase, not all issues will be discovered and rectified prior to fabrication and installation. Shop and field inspections provide the last best hope of identifying and correcting any issues to ensure successful startup and operation of fractionation towers.

Shop inspections are paramount to discovering and correcting major design and fabrication issues that will affect internals installation and tower operation. Major issues cannot be resolved in the field due to the lack of adequately-equipped facilities. Field inspections are vital to ensure that the assembled tower will function according to the intended design. However, short project schedules, lack of resources, and inexperienced personnel are a recipe for poor installation and assembly of internals.

The purpose of this presentation is to describe key aspects of an effective and practical inspection program and recent examples of the types of issues that can be encountered.


This paper has an Extended Abstract file available; you must purchase the conference proceedings to access it.


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