Technological equipment used in the energy, oil, gas and chemical industries (pipelines, tanks, boilers, turbines) has its own theoretical life cycle. Design life is determined based on the assumed stresses and environmental impacts during design. In the vast majority of cases, this is a theoretical value, which is influenced by deviations from the planned loads, the inhomogeneity of the material in accordance with the laws of physics.
An extremely important question for the owner and operator is the safety of the equipment concerned and its production and technical safety. To answer this question, a suitable diagnostic method should be chosen that helps to compile the maintenance plan, allows for proactive interventions that lead to safety and cost optimization. Analysis of the problem, resp. the wording of the answer to this leads to the scope of the definition of the remaining life. By definition, the life of an equipment lasts as long as it is able to perform its function in accordance with its nominal design parameters and safely. The analysis may result in the equipment no longer being able to operate with the design parameters, however, with reasonable trade-offs with reduced load (pressure, temperature), the equipment can be kept in operation and its life cycle can be extended.
Given that, in general, the loads are not of the intended value, as well as the materials show inhomogeneous properties and the measurements are also burdened with errors, answers to the lifecycle can be given only using a statistical approach, by analysing risks.
The basis of the risk assessment is the accurate mapping of the damage mechanisms, the determination of the rate of damage (degradation) by assigning the appropriate diagnostic method.
The service life of equipment can differ significantly from the design value, but this is an expert task to determine.
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