Investigating Failure

From JPCL, December 2018

By Rob Lanterman, PCS, KTA-Tator, Inc.

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Comment from Jeffrey Smith, (12/17/2018, 8:34 AM)

Sounds like that is going to be a costly fix. Should have done it right the first time.


Comment from sandy bates, (12/17/2018, 2:42 PM)

This story tells why proper inspection is needed during the preparation and application periods...cheaper to do it right than to redo.


Comment from Warren Brand, (12/18/2018, 9:34 AM)

Great and detailed article. Rob, perhaps you can explain the thought process of the investigation. We get requests all the time for comprehensive failure analysis. Unless litigation is being considered, our approach to a failure analysis is that we do the least-costly (for the client) investigations first, and then drill deeper (lab work, destructive testing, etc), only if required. We recommend what we term "directional failure analysis" unless litigation is being considered. In this case - the coating was clearly too thin - which could have been determined in a few hours with the use of a DFT gauge. Once it was determined the coating was too thin - why charge the client for further investigations? I can understand if in considering remedial solutions one was considering brush blasting the existing coating system and overcoating, but due to it being so thin, the likely best, and least costly remedial solution for the client, would be to re-blast and re-coat properly. Either way, I fail to understand how conducting lab tests and any other tests beyond that the coating was too thin, was a benefit to the client? How do you justify these additional tests and additional costs to the client, when the mode of failure is so obvious and easily determined?


Comment from Robert Lanterman, (12/21/2018, 1:21 AM)

Warren - The client in this case requested the investigation to see if the coatings conformed to the specification. The case was likely to go to litigation and they wanted to know as much about what had been done as they could to direct that decision. While dry film thickness measurements were part of the problem, they did not tell the whole story. A comprehensive investigation was needed to determine all of the issues and know how they could best be addressed going forward. Knowing all of the issues with the existing coating application is invaluable in the event of push-back and helps the client decide to pursue litigation. The lab tests in this case were not very costly and provided valuable evidence to what was done in the field. As I am sure you know a last minute flight can cost considerably more than some IR's.


Comment from David Lemke, (12/21/2018, 11:36 AM)

All I can say is "You get what you pay for". I work for a company that is a pipe fabricator and oversee the coatings department. The procurement individuals at some facility owners only look at the bottom line on estimates when they make their decisions and they should not wonder why episodes like this occur. Sure, they can back charge after litigation for the improper workmanship in an instance like this, but what is the true cost. Fixing the problem will mean a delay in start-up operations which in turn leads to loss of profits when the facility should be up and running. Time and money spent on litigation adds to cost of the project as well. Our owner’s philosophy has always been delivery quality on time which has kept our company in business for over 30 years. And no, we are not the cheapest, but now look at the cost for this facility owner. Facility owners – I take a look at the lay down site and wonder about them protecting their investment. I have heard horror stories of how incoming materials are handled at the site and see some of that in the picture. Throwing pipe on top of other pipe and compromising the coating before it even goes through erection. We take pride in the quality of the coating that is delivered to the site to minimize field touch up work that will be required. Not being more vigilant on how materials are handled at the sight will only cost them more in the long run. The only thing we can control is to ensure the quality of the coating is what is on the truck. The thing I wonder about this article is, has someone learned a lesson here?


Comment from Warren Brand, (12/21/2018, 12:49 PM)

Hi Robert. Thanks for the clarification. Makes perfect sense. David, I couldn't agree more. We just last week had conversations with a company painting parts which are going to be shipped to an offshore oil platform. The paint system was a complex 5-coat system (which is an entirely different questionable issue) and there were dozens of pieces which required inspection. They just wanted an inspector to come out and inspect the finished parts and sign-off that the surface prep was right as well as each coating DFT and application. Naturally, we passed.


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