Today’s inspector is gaining ever more respect for his/her abilities and knowledge as regulatory agencies lean more on Mechanical Integrity during audits.
The role of an API inspector is rapidly changing. Necessary skills for success have transformed as technology, standardization, and regulations have become part of the way of life. An API inspector has transformed over the last 40 years, from an employee that simply captured and recorded data for minimally worded handwritten reports, into a Technical Analyst that now manages and maintains complex databases to project what may happen in the future. The inspector is responsible for achieving an overall goal of safety, environmental protection, and efficient production through assured mechanical integrity (MI).
What is driving this role change?
In the past 40 years, inspection has gone from discovery work to forecasting work and equipment reliability. Inspectors have gone from reporting what has happened, to projecting what will happen by the use of technically advanced tools. The common factors that changed have been time and public attitude; leaks, spills, and fires were no longer acceptable in the eyes of the public or regulatory agencies. As a result, the act of inspecting shifted from a reactive approach to a proactive approach. In today’s operating environment, it is not enough to base future inspection plans solely on prior history of equipment condition. Inspection plans should be dynamic and account for changing process conditions, equipment modifications made over years of operation, current conditions and planned future use.
In today’s world, Unit Inspectors must expand their job roles and responsibilities by maintaining supporting documentation of the continuous changes to equipment. This involves the new job duties of the “Mechanical Integrity Compliance Officer” (MICO).