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mwarrenasint
Explorer
This may seem like an easy question to answer, but for organizations with assets around the globe, they may feel like it varies by country or local jurisdiction. Let’s take a look at how the industry defines mechanical integrity and compare it to a few of the codes and standards used around the world.

What is mechanical integrity, and how is it defined by our governing bodies?

Mechanical Integrity refers to the ability of a system or equipment to function properly and safely, without the risk of failure, malfunction, or breakdown. It involves the design, construction, installation, maintenance, inspection, and testing of machinery, equipment, and processes to ensure that they operate reliably and consistently and comply with regulatory standards and industry best practices. Mechanical Integrity is critical in industries such as oil and gas, chemical, pharmaceutical, and manufacturing, where equipment failure or breakdown can lead to serious accidents, injuries, or environmental hazards.

Some governing bodies define a mechanical integrity program as follows:

  • According to the CALARP (California Accidental Release Prevention), a Mechanical Integrity Program is a documented system that provides for the inspection, testing, and maintenance of equipment to ensure that it operates safely and reliably. The program should include procedures for identifying and addressing equipment deficiencies, verifying equipment design and installation, and ensuring that equipment is used and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations and applicable regulations.


 

  • The European Pressure Equipment Directive (PED) requires that pressure equipment operators implement and document a Quality Assurance System to ensure that their equipment is designed, manufactured, and tested to meet the safety requirements of the directive. Additionally, the PED requires that pressure equipment be subject to periodic inspections and testing to ensure that it remains safe to operate over its entire lifespan. These inspections and tests must be carried out by competent persons and documented appropriately.


 

  • API RP 571 defines Mechanical Integrity as the ability of equipment to perform its intended function over its entire lifecycle without failure or loss of containment. It involves the application of appropriate standards and best practices to ensure that equipment is designed and manufactured to meet its intended purpose, installed and maintained correctly, inspected and tested regularly, and repaired or modified as necessary to maintain its reliability and safety.


 

  • NR-13 is a Brazilian regulation that establishes the minimum requirements for managing the integrity of pressure vessels, storage tanks, pipelines, and other equipment that operates under pressure. According to NR-13, mechanical integrity is defined as the ability of a piece of equipment to perform its intended function in a safe and reliable manner over its entire lifespan. This standard establishes several requirements for ensuring mechanical integrity, such as regular inspections, maintenance, and repairs, and the use of appropriate design standards and materials.


 

  • EN 16991 is a European standard that provides guidelines for the management of mechanical integrity of equipment in the process industry. According to this standard, mechanical integrity is defined as the ability of equipment to perform its intended function in a safe and reliable manner without any loss of containment over its entire lifespan.


 

Overall, Mechanical Integrity emphasizes the importance of implementing a comprehensive program that covers all aspects of equipment management to ensure that it remains safe, reliable, and performs its intended function throughout its entire lifecycle. It is worth noting that the difference in these definitions is minimal, if they vary at all. Perhaps more importantly, most, if not all, standards use the term "program" rather than "project," which implies that mechanical integrity should be approached as an ongoing initiative designed to achieve a strategic objective through multiple interdependent projects or activities, as opposed to "project," which is a temporary endeavor designed to achieve a specific goal.
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