FFS or Fitness-for-Service is an assessment method using the best industry practices and standards to ensure the structural integrity of any asset or component. The FFS evaluation process confirms if any asset/component is suitable for its intended purpose. Also known as Fitness for Purpose, the Fitness-for-Service assessment gives a quantitative measure for asset integrity management. The FFS assessment methods highlight repair or replacement needs for the asset.
The fitness for service assessment methods is used to assess the critical pressurized components and welded elements for identification of the mitigation needs to safely use the assets. Various industries such as power generation, process plants, aerospace, oil and gas, marine industry, etc make use of fitness for service methods throughout different stages of the asset’s lifecycle.
Advantages of Fitness-for-Service Assessment
Even though Fitness-for-Service is prevalent for application in the asset’s operating stage, It can be applied throughout the other life cycles stages such as the design, and fabrication. The main benefits that fitness for service provides are:
- FFS is applicable in plant life management, the operating life of the asset can be increased.
- The requirement for unnecessary repairs and replacements can be reduced a lot.
- FFS improves plant safety.
- The residual life of the equipment is known beforehand which increases the utilization of the asset.
- The maintenance and inspection plan can be optimized by the prior knowledge of FFS assessment to increase plant operating time and reduce downtime.
- Overall, reduction in capital expenditure.
Importance of Fitness for Service in Industry
For proper performance of every asset fitness for service can be a very important assessment method. The FFS is usually performed in two levels. Primarily, the low-level FFS will highlight if the component is fit for continued service with limited data. This is also known as screening assessment Once the item is found to be critical as per low-level FFS assessment, a high-level detailed FFS assessment can be done with more data to reliably indicate the condition of the asset.
API 579 Fitness for Service Assessment
API 579 by the American Petroleum Institute is a real boon for fitness for service assessment. API RP 579 provides guidelines to demonstrate the structural integrity assessment of the in-service degraded equipment or component. From 2007 onwards, the standard API 579 is renamed as API 579-1/ASME FFS-1 Fitness-For-Service and now comes under the purview of the API and ASME Fitness-For-Service Joint Committee.
API-579 provides clear guidelines if a piece of equipment with minor damage can be operated without replacement, repair, or reducing the pressure rating. A range of damage types such as cracks, localized corrosion, dents, creeps, blisters, weld misalignment, shell distortions, hydrogen damage, fire damage, etc is covered in the API 579 FFS assessment techniques. The fitness for service assessment tools also provides a projected remaining life and in-service margin of the asset which is very much essential for safely running the asset.
API 579 Fitness for Service Assessment Procedure
The API-579 FFS assessment procedures are detailed in the standard based on damage type and mechanism. Even though the fitness for service assessment for each type of flaw varies significantly the general FFS approach is somewhat similar which consists of the following steps:
- Flaw and Damage Mechanism Identification
- Selecting the assessment procedure based on the applicability and limitations of the FFS assessment procedures as devised in the API 579 standard.
- Asset Data collection (Design data, maintenance, and operational history, expected future service, flaw data, material properties, etc)
- Assessment technique finalization based on damage mechanisms present.
- Estimating remaining life and inspection interval.
- Devising remediation techniques to control future damage or flaw growth.
- In-service monitoring
- Recording all information and decisions in a proper format.
Fitness for Service Software
Various user-friendly software packages are already available in the market for performing API 579 Fitness for Service assessment. Some of the well-known API 579 fitness for service software packages are:
- Signal Fitness-For-Service software by the Quest Integrity group.
- Inspect API 579-1 FFS by Codeware
- IntegriWISE, CrackWISE, and RiskWISE fitness for service software by TWI
- BechtFFS by Becht Engineering
- FITest Fitness-For-Service (FFS) assessment software by Lifetech Engineering
- α-phe FFS software by Ankaa Consulting
Codes and Standards for Fitness for Service
Even though API 579-1/ASME FFS-1 is the most widely used Fitness-For-Service standard, there are some other standards that can be referred to. Some of this Fitness for service codes and standards are:
- BS 7910
Additionally, API 579 suggests to refer the following codes:
Fitness for Service Training
Various renowned organizations provide Fitness for Service Engineering Training to prepare professionals suitable for those jobs. Below are some of the available FFS training courses:
- Failure Prevention, Fitness-for-Service, Repair, and Life Extension of Piping, Vessels, and Tanks (Virtual Classroom) by the ASME
- CSWIP Plant Inspector Levels 2/3 Module 4: Fitness-for-Service (FFS) Assessment, based on API and ASME by TWI (The Welding Institute)
- API 579 Fitness for Service (FFS) Training Course by Wilkinson Coutts
- Fitness-for-Service of Degraded & Damaged Tanks, Vessels, and Piping Systems in accordance with API 579-1/ASME FFS-1 and Repair Options in Accordance with ASME PCC-2 course by Becht Engineering
- Fitness-for-Service Course – Presented by Equity Engineering Group, Inc.
- Fundamentals of Fitness for Service C137 -API 579 Certification Course by ABS group Training Solutions
This fitness for the service training course will help the candidates to
- Analyze, evaluate, and monitor pressure vessels, piping, and tanks for continued operation
- Explain applying the background information on fitness-for-service assessment.
- Identify the main parts of the API/ASME standards along with annexures
- Explain the practical application of the techniques incorporated in API 579-1/ASME FFS-1