Editorial: Ready for Spring | AIChE

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Editorial: Ready for Spring


Evan Pfab, Associate Editor

Spring is well on its way. While it’s been a mostly mild winter here in Brooklyn, the gray skies certainly add up. Winter comes with much needed introspection and various forms of hibernation, which is all well and good, but eventually I get overly cooped up and crave warmth and sunshine. I’m sure most would agree that the arrival of spring marks one of the loveliest times of the year for many of the same reasons. Although, I suppose those with allergies — or those living much further south — may have different sentiments. Perhaps one day we can develop allergy relief that doesn’t put you to sleep, but we’ll have to save that for another issue of CEP.

Aside from the sunshine and flowers, one of the things I look forward to the most come springtime is the Spring Meeting and Global Congress on Process Safety (GCPS). It’s a time to gather some of the leading minds in chemical engineering and process safety to share learnings and connect with others. In fact, two of the articles in this issue are based on talks I had the pleasure of attending at last year’s meeting.

One talk was on writing better procedures. Believe it or not, a presentation on procedures can be made interesting, and Rob Fisher (Fisher Improvement Technologies) certainly proved that to a room full of engineers on a Monday afternoon, right after lunch. His article “Effective Procedures and Process Safety” (pp. 43–48) discusses the role of procedures in safe operations and the gap between technical accuracy and usability. Our industry is not immune to incidents, and the root cause often traces back to human error. Procedures play a huge role in preventing these events — the better and more clearly a procedure is written, the less room for error. The importance of writing clearly can’t be overstated.

However, even with effective procedures and a solid process safety management (PSM) program, incidents still occur. In the article, “The Dogma of Process Safety” (pp. 28–33), Sean Dee and coauthors (Exponent, Inc.) dive into a question often raised by process safety skeptics: Are process safety incidents truly preventable? The article addresses this key philosophical question regarding whether catastrophic events are foreseeable and within the control of a facility’s operations — two elements of a contractual force majeure claim (the so-called “Act of God”).

These are just two examples of the types of presentations at the Spring Meeting and GCPS. Check out the technical program or flip to the Meeting Preview on p. 49 to see all the featured tracks and topical conferences taking place March 24–28, including loss prevention, process safety mentoring, leadership development, ethylene production, circular plastics, and more. I also encourage you to check out presentations on topics that you might tend to overlook — you never know what you might learn.

This year, the Spring Meeting will be in New Orleans, LA, one of the more unique cities in the U.S. that I’ve come to love for its blend of European roots and southern comfort, not to mention its vibrant music culture and food scene. There will surely be something for everyone. I hope to see you there!

Evan Pfab, Associate Editor


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