Last week we talked about why having a mechanical integrity program in place can be beneficial, versus simply complying with the required inspection guidelines. This week, we will look at some types of inspections and inspector certifications that may be needed in your mechanical integrity program.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) is the major trade association for the oil and natural gas industry in the United States, and helps to set standards for the production, refinement, and distribution of petroleum products. The organization was established in 1919 and has developed more than 700 standards related to operations and environmental safety, efficiency, and sustainability. These standards provide a uniform platform for inspection and operation, and serve as a model for many state and local regulations. API offers training and certification to professionals in the oil and gas industries. In order to qualify to take an exam, the applicant must meet certain criteria including education in an engineering-based program and / or recent, supervised, relevant experience. The exam is 8 hours in length and is based on a body of knowledge comprised of 8 to 10 standards encompassing inspection, welding, metallurgy, fabrication and non-destructive testing. The most common certifications required for use in a mechanical integrity program include API 510 (pressure vessel inspector), API 570 (piping inspector), and API 653 (aboveground storage tank inspector). Passing the exam and obtaining certification demonstrates the inspector’s ability and knowledge of API’s Environmental, Health, and Safety Mission and Guiding Principles, and a dedication to safety and integrity.

The Steel Tank Institute (STI) is a trade association which represents fabricators of steel construction products and their suppliers. These fabricators primarily produce shop-fabricated steel storage tanks and water tanks rather than the larger field-fabricated tanks more closely covered by API-653. Organized in 1916, the group provides services to companies in the petroleum, chemical, food, and water storage industries. STI offers certifications in various inspection methods, including above-ground storage tank inspection (SP001). Individuals who take and pass this exam learn about the regulations affecting many types of aboveground tanks as well as methods for ensuring their safety. As with the API certification exams, applicants must have a mix of education and practical work experience before being eligible, as well as pass a visual acuity test. After initially earning the certification, it must be renewed periodically.

Certified Welding Inspector (CWI) certification can be obtained from the American Welding Society (AWS). AWS is considered the worldwide leader in welding industry certification programs. Earning a CWI certification demonstrates the skills and abilities of the inspector in regards to welding processes, procedures, qualifications, and testing. In order to qualify for the CWI exam, applicants must pass a vision test and have experience in welding-based work as well as relevant education. The exam is six hours long, split into three parts. Part A is a written exam consisting of 150 questions. Part B is a hands-on test covering welding examination, procedure and welding qualifications, nondestructive testing, and visual inspection. Part C relates to code application, testing the inspector’s ability to locate, understand, and utilize information in a codebook. The CWI certification must be recertified or renewed on 3- or 6-year cycles.

National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE) International is the worldwide authority on corrosion. The organization offers technical training and certification programs, helps to create industry standards related to piping, tanks, and other equipment, and publishes reports and technical journals. Corrosion can be a key factor in equipment failure, so identifying it and preventing or minimizing it is important for safety. NACE administers more than twenty certifications in various disciplines, including the industry-leading Coatings Inspector Program (CIP) endorsement, as well as cathodic protection, general corrosion, pipeline, and specialty certifications. Coatings inspection is important because proper coatings can reduce the incidence of corrosion on key equipment, such as tanks and piping, and increase their useful life. A failure in the coating can lead to a failure in the equipment. In order to become a NACE CIP Inspector, you must be able to document applicable supervised work experience and pass a certification exam at leach level. Utilizing a NACE certified inspector ensures that the project will be approached with safety in mind, attention to the protection of the environment, and the practical knowledge necessary to complete the inspection in an unbiased manner.

All these different types of inspectors are necessary for various areas of mechanical integrity. Used in conjunction with one another, they ensure that all aspects of your facility remain safe and in good working order.

If you have questions for our Mechanical Integrity Team, or would like a quote on services, please call Keith Taylor at 716.592.3980, ext. 143 or email him at [email protected]