Delivering value through regulatory compliance at TANATEX

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TANATEX Chemicals had a good system for tracking its equipment, but came to Lloyd’s Register Energy to develop something more robust.

Article summary: TANATEX Chemicals’ maintenance manager, Jim Casey, developed over a number of years a plant inspection maintenance regime. system over the years. However, a main point of concern was that it was a stand-alone system, depending on the knowledge of a few people. So, he partnered with LR Energy to evaluate the system for possible improvements, and the end result created new efficiencies internally and for their customers. 

In the world of chemical processing, ensuring manufacturing assets are inspected and in compliance with the law is a challenge that has both legal and safety ramifications. There is always the risk that a missed inspection can lead to a catastrophic failure.

ISL-2016-tanatex pic 1_481TANATEX Chemicals’ maintenance manager, Jim Casey, developed a comprehensive inspection and compliance system, He asked Lloyd's Register to inspect this system and provide feedback. This was the start of a joint pilot project to develop a robust and independent tool to manage inspection and compliance.

The Netherlands-based manufacturer of chemicals for the textile industry has been in business for more than 50 years and operates around the world. In the Netherlands, TANATEX falls under the BRZO, a Dutch regulation for companies whose industrial accidents could pose a major risk to the community. Because of this, keeping maintenance and inspection documentation in order is a vital issue.

Replacing an impressive system

Years ago, Jim had started cataloging the plant’s assets and come came up with a system that impressed the company’s management. Jim was seeking independent advice to confirm this system was robust enough. At the same time he realized that it was risky to have such a stand-alone system depending on the knowledge of one single person. TANATEX’s Chief Operations and Technology officer, Dick Uitendaal thought Jim’s system was good, but agreed with Jim, realizing that having one system maintained by one person in one area of TANATEX was also too risky. 

Jim’s first step was to get an outside opinion. He needed an independent party to assess the current system, and report back on any risks or gaps. For him, the logical choice was Lloyd’s Register Energy (LR Energy), TANATEX’s longtime inspection provider and authorized agency certifying to Dutch law.

“I realized that we needed an independent party to review the management system with us,” he says. “I contacted Lloyd’s Register Energy with the objective of monitoring plans to the current system and the existing inspection. Was what we were already doing sufficient? Is this what a government agency demands from us?"

IT specialists from LR Energy conducted an audit of Jim’s system and returned recommendations to close the risk gaps. After several technical meetings, TANATEX decided to partner with LR Energy to develop a compliance process with a database that could be accessed by several areas of TANATEX’s business, as well as by LR Energy surveyors and other third-parties. 

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LR Energy designed the database to hold all relevant documents and photographs about a particular asset, such as design drawings, risk analyses, test planning, photographs, permits and regulatory information. A calendar module also tied into these assets, showing when they required inspection. 

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Next, TANATEX and LR Energy inventoried the relevant equipment. This task was complicated as the equipment was put into service under two different legislative regimes: the local Dutch pressure equipment regulations (the Stoomwet, prior to 2002) and the WBDA (after 2002). It was critical to make sure each piece followed the appropriate legislation. Jim also wanted to go even beyond compliance, and make sure they were not taking unnecessary risks.

“We mapped so many assets and issues, we were bound to run into new challenges. The compliance story still was a bit disappointing,” Jim says. “Legislation is sometimes old and inspection bodies sometimes take a black-and-white view of regulations. But complying with the law alone does not make the equipment necessarily safe. We do not want to take risks and we do not want to compromise. We really want to meet the laws and go beyond compliance.”

Benefits beyond compliance

Organizing its assets in such a database has also delivered other benefits to TANATEX. As mentioned, LR Surveyors can access documents for a particular piece of equipment before they conduct an inspection, saving TANATEX personnel the time to look up the documents and send them to LR Energy. 

Advance planning is also a major benefit. The system contains inspection information for the next six years, accessible across the organization.

“It's all become a lot more transparent and an integral part of our organization,” says Dick Uitendaal. “The production department, the laboratory and the purchasing department now have an understanding of the maintenance schedule.”

This allows TANATEX managers to schedule plant downtime in a coordinated way, and make sure that client delivery isn’t impacted, thus improving reliability for their customers.

The other benefit for TANATEX actually came during the process of migrating data and looking at its assets. Working closely with LR Energy surveyors gave TANATEX staff a better and deeper understanding of the regulations.

“After the sessions with Lloyd's Register, we have gained more insight into regulatory and classification of equipment," Jim says. "I think that after the compliance project, we are experts in the field of WBDA. 

"It is ultimately important for regulators to have your answer ready and to have control over what we do. We now have more than enough of that and that gives us confidence!" 

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