MTI Success Stories

MTI Case Studies Chronicle Value Captured by Members

MTI has had a history of delivering significant value and ROI for its clients. We also know we’re not the only organization to make those assertions, which is why you’ll find customer success stories here to back our claims.

In 2014, MTI began honoring companies who have extracted significant value from their membership. The Value Award recognizes members that have realized quantifiable value from successful application of knowledge gained through their MTI membership. Examples have included:

  • Incorporation of training or procedures developed and delivered by MTI
  • Application of technical knowledge obtained from MTI Projects or Publications
  • Savings and efficiencies realized from information gained at live TAC forums, structured forum presentations, or through MTI’s online technical forum
  • Solutions obtained via MTI’s network of experts and member representatives
  • Producer-supplier joint projects that have delivered value to the companies or the industry.

“The Value Award promotes cases of practical application of knowledge engineered within our collaborative community,” according to John Aller, MTI’s Executive Director. “We hope that the examples also provide fellow members with ideas on how they might be able to apply MTI resources to the benefit their own companies. This is an opportunity to share the application of innovative solutions developed within our unique technical network, which could spawn new ideas and projects."

Following are just a few of the many success stories submitted by members for the annual MTI Value Awards competition.

AkzoNobel Turns an MTI Connection into a Catalyst for Value

Sometimes it’s not only who you know, but who you can trust that leads to a breakthrough solution. Such was the case in 2008 when MTI member AkzoNobel faced challenges in planning the replacement of a catalyst chamber at one of its Canadian operations. The critical unit had been problematic not so much due to its performance, but because of its limited throughput and the difficulty in changing out the catalyst. Engineers at the site wanted to increase the capacity of the new chamber, while maintaining elevations with existing connecting piping circuits to minimize installation costs; however, they encountered an obstacle. The increased height of the redesigned unit brought the top head so close to the roof of the building that a catalyst exchange would have been even more complicated and dangerous for maintenance personnel.

Ed Naylor, an engineer at AkzoNobel and longtime active participant in MTI, started thinking about the problem. He remembered a Fabrication Panel Discussion from an old AmeriTAC Meeting that would ultimately shed insight into fabrication challenges not normally understood by end-users or addressed in their specification requirements. Those sessions and other collaborative opportunities often connect processing industry engineers like Naylor with proven suppliers of solutions.

In this case, fellow member Ellett Industries turned out to be the resource AkzoNobel needed on its team. Ultimately, the Port Coquitlam, B.C.-based fabricator redesigned the vessel with flat heads to achieve the required pipe fit ups, yet was still able to increase the size and capacity of the vessel. The flat top head design left ample room over the vessel for workers to safely conduct the catalyst change. As an added benefit, the installation crew was able to easily rotate the flat head out of the way, rendering the overhead hoist used to maneuver the old domed head superfluous. In fact, the old hoist was removed, leaving even more room for workers to safely make the catalyst change.

In operating this heat exchanger-like vessel, there is a requirement to regenerate the catalyst by stopping the production process to back flow with controlled heat through the chamber. The increased capacity of the new vessel allowed an extension of this regeneration process from a 10-day time span to 15 days.

In addition, the new larger design enables the company to perform a partial catalyst replacement. After prep time, the infrequently required task now takes a mere 30 minutes versus 4 hours every 3 months prior to implementation of the new design… a huge improvement!

Dow Uses MTI Mothballing Guide to Develop Equipment Preservation Procedures

During the economic collapse of 2008, The Dow Chemical Company was faced with a big challenge – the mass removal of processing equipment from service while preserving it for later use. The occasional process of preserving electrical equipment, vessels, rotating equipment, piping and instrumentation (or mothballing) was typically handled on a much smaller scale. In effect, reliability, profitability and sustainability were all major concerns associated with the huge task ahead. The company turned to MTI in hope of solving the problem.

Dow staff obtained the MTI Guidelines for the Mothballing of Process Plants publication and established the manual as a corporate guideline. An electronic copy was eventually made available company-wide for quick and convenient access, and as a result of the economic collapse, supplementary material was contributed for company use by experts in the areas of electrical, mechanical, process containment, piping and materials.

Gene Liening, Manufacturing and Engineering Consultant, notes that the MTI publication has been invaluable to their operations. “Writing such complete guidelines from scratch using our usual standards-writing procedures would have taken an estimated 400 work hours and two years to complete,” he reports. “Having the MTI guidelines in place allowed the technology to be available when needed, at a cost far less than writing them in-house.”

While the impact hadn’t been specifically tracked, Liening is certain that Dow saved millions of dollars by applying the MTI manual procedures in 2008, and the benefits are ongoing. “The mothballing guidelines have materially contributed to the reliability, profitability and sustainability of our operations,” he explains. “These guidelines are still used, and continue to contribute to our manufacturing performance.”

MTI Colleagues Help Eastman Chemical Develop Furnace Tube Spec

In 2004, Eastman Chemical needed to purchase new furnace tubes for a hydrogen reformer. The company’s past practice had been to use its furnace supplier’s drawings and one-page data sheet to help its Purchasing Department in its effort to obtain new tubes. Eastman’s engineers recognized that the current tube purchasing process, which lacked a specification and wasn’t consistent, could lead ultimately to a quality problem. Since furnace tube replacement is a rare work scope for the company, its staff didn’t know technical points it might be blind spots in drafting a brand new specification.

Eastman staff with member-only access used MTI’s online forum to post a question asking how to specify the new HP replacement tubes and received two replies. At a subsequent AmeriTAC Meeting, another MTI member shared a furnace tube specification.

"The specification was quite detailed in describing materials, test procedures, assembly, final inspection, and shipping, showing us items that we had not thought about,” recalls Materials Engineer Robert Sinko. “That specification was used as the outline for drafting our current specification for furnace tubes and manifold headers."

AmeriTAC Representative Curtis Huddle, who works on Sinko’s team, reports that Eastman Chemical has now purchased four hydrogen reformer’s worth of tubes using the specification. The specification has also been shared with two overseas Eastman facilities. “The basic outline of the specification was changed to purchase two manifold headers for two of the reformers and to buy tubes for two cracking furnaces at the Kingsport site,” notes Huddle. “We are certain that invoking this specification led to better and consistent quality of the furnace tubes and headers and prevented potential shutdowns for deficient goods. It is expected that this specification will be used far into the future and could be leveraged for use in other products.”

DuPont Uses MTI RBI Project Information in HCl Tank Application

Establishing an effective inspection plan for equipment constructed of non-metallic materials is a challenge. Not only is there little guidance in industry standards for in-service inspection, but there are few test methods applicable for non-metallic materials and the resulting test data tend to be more qualitative than quantitative.

This situation sometimes leads to less than ideal inspection plans and adds to uncertainties in fitness for service decisions. Ultimately, decisions on whether to run, repair or replace non-metallic equipment can be more opinion-driven than technically-based, lacking either a common understanding or a clear communication of the business impact for each option.

With these important issues in mind, MTI approved a RBI for Polymers. The goals was to document potential damage mechanisms and established the risk-based logic for inspection planning of FRP tanks in several select chemical environments.

DuPont non-metallic Materials Consultant Pradip Khaladkar, who worked with colleague Karen Maxson to develop a project to evaluate a Hydrochloric Acid (HCl) storage tank at one of its facilities, convinced his associates on the company’s business team to use the MTI-developed product.

For FRP tanks at DuPont, the traditional inspection planning was a rigid time-based approach for the initial in-service examinations. Subsequent inspection frequencies could be adjusted based on equipment condition, but those modifications to inspection plans were not well-established and were often very subjective – totally dependent on the evaluator’s experience and perception of inspections. Also, in the company’s inspection planning process, the typical test methods used for FRP were limited to visual and Barcol hardness.

The RBI approach developed in the MTI project provided detailed failure mechanisms, modes and effects for five chemical service applications and included additional NDE method recommendations. Of greatest importance to DuPont was the baseline probabilities of failure that the project established for recommended tank design characteristics and also the technical modification factors that it specified, which could increase or decrease those probabilities.

With the information from the MTI project, DuPont was able to evaluate a HCl storage tank and provide its site with two inspection plans: one plan based on safety/health/environmental risks and the other, more conservative plan based on business risks, which were higher in this case.

This comprehensive RBI methodology was key for the site in determining and justifying when the tank replacement was optimal versus inspection/downtime impacts. The detailed RBI evaluation also led the team to fully understand the tank design characteristics that most influenced the probabilities and consequences of failure. The site could then incorporate those considerations into the design of a replacement tank that would have a longer expected service life.

After the RBI assessment was completed, the HCl tank was inspected per the more conservative inspection plan based on business risks and the examination results further validated that the RBI evaluation was accurate. These results also confirmed the site’s decision to consider alternative tank replacement designs to improve life cycle costs.

Sabic Turns Guideline Lessons into Replacement Avoidance Savings

MTI’s online repository of technical books is a bank of technical expertise that where members are always welcome to visit and withdraw valuable information. 2014 Global Value Award winner Sabic is a good example of a company that used one of these resources to the tremendous benefit of its own operations. The process started when Senior Stationary Engineer Abdullah Mohammed Enazi-Al reviewed MTI’s publication, Guidance for Plant Personnel in Gathering Data and Samples for Material Failure Analyses publication. “An NG reformer inlet system, made from SS321H, failed and knowing what went wrong and the exact damage mode and mechanism crucially effects our decision in knowing the best-suited repair procedure,” he reported. Ultimately, SABIC wanted to be able to determine whether there was a reliable repair method or the equipment/components needed to be replaced. According to Enazi-Al, that is especially important in plant shutdown time-limitation situations when you need to get the reliable repair methodology right the first time.

The unique MTI publication helped Sabic update its current procedure for gathering failed samples, but its impact could go well beyond sharing best practices with a member company. “Knowing the exact failure mode and mechanism enables us to have a high profile reliable decision toward repair, replacement or rerating the pertinent equipment or part,” concludes Enazi-Al. “By replacement avoidance, we could save more that $10 million (direct and indirect cost) between replacements.”

MTI Success Stories Span 40 Years

Here are just a few more cases of how companies have used their MTI Membership to deliver significant value in their own operations.

Value Case #1 — DuPont Company

It should be the goal of each MTI member representative to help develop and bring home projects that improve their company's manufacturing efficiency, safety, and technical capability. For example, the DuPont Company makes successful use of its MTI membership by demanding a minimum return of five times its membership fee plus participation costs. Continue Reading

Value Case #2 — DuPont Dow Elastomers

Elastomers for o-rings, gaskets and custom shapes play a key role in preventing process leaks and incidents on our sites. Unfortunately, specification and procurement of elastomer parts is not quite as simple for metals, where many standards exist for all product forms, and the desired level of quality can be attained through well established protocols. The end users of metals can use quality level desired to estimate life and thus optimize costs. Continue Reading

Value Case #3 — Valve Manufacturers Audit Pool

Chemical and petrochemical plants use thousands of valves to direct process flow in their manufacturing equipment. The quality and functionality of valves have a direct relationship to safety, integrity and profitability of the facilities. The quality of control valves is usually monitored as part of the control system. However, the quality of most other commodity or mechanical valves is directly related to quality control by the manufacturer. Continue Reading

Value Case #4 — MTI Reliability Manuals

The Chemical Industry is characterized as high capital intensity. It must operate at increasingly higher productivity, with lower maintenance costs to remain competitive. Continuous improvement is the goal. In just a few years the average maintenance cost as percent of present day Replacement Asset Value (RAV) for plants has decreased from 3.2% in 1996 to 2.7% in 1999, adding millions of dollars to bottom line profits. Continue Reading

Value Case #5 — Dow Chemical

Processing plant problems know no boundaries. Such was the case one holiday weekend in 2011, when Gene Liening of The Dow Chemical Company received an urgent message on his smartphone. “A Dow Agrosciences plant in India lost their 35% hydrochloric acid magnetic-drive pump on November 25, the Friday of Thanksgiving holiday weekend,” he reports. “The Indian production leader left a message on my Blackberry at 7:47 AM of November 25 that alerted me to the problem.” Continue Reading

If you’d like to become an MTI member contact us here, or go to our MTI Benefits page to see all the ways your company can improve its ROI.