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Achieve Overpressure Protection with HIPPS Best Practices

March 25, 2021
There is no question that overpressure protection is a critical safety concern for a number of reasons. Over-pressurization of a facility or any engineered system can lead to atmospheric releases, catastrophic safety events and negative environmental impacts. Increased awareness due to high profile incidents and industry regulations place a greater spotlight on not just the need for protection, but also the expertise required to implement the protection most effectively.
As overpressure solutions are considered, careful review must be given to both safety and environmental implications. Safety relief valves can address the risk of compromising the pressure integrity of a device or system, however they do not address the potential emissions release into the environment, nor do they address potential lost revenue escaping through the open relief valve. A High Integrity Pressure Protection System (HIPPS) is a more comprehensive solution. HIPPS relieves the pressure while also containing environmentally harmful materials. Addressing both pressure and emissions positions HIPPS as an ideal solution.
When an unexpected pressure surge occurs in a facility, it must be immediately detected and mitigated to maintain a safe and environmentally secure area. Immediate containment can also minimize lost revenue due to shutdowns, equipment damage or regulatory fines. HIPPS works to do just that by quickly shutting off the pressure source and containing it to create a barrier between high pressure and low pressure in a process while eliminating potentially hazardous and costly releases. HIPPS combines engineering design with a range of products including logic solvers, pressure transmitters, digital valve controllers, isolation valves and actuators to shut down the processes and contain any potential emissions. These systems achieve a high degree of reliability through redundancies such as sensors that operate on a 2oo3 (2 out of 3) voting system to detect high pressure, and digital valve controllers that monitor valve operation.
HIPPS are also developed to meet a specific Safety Integrity Level (SIL) rating certification. This international standard measures safety system performance through an independent risk/process hazard analysis. All elements of the system are evaluated to ensure they achieve an acceptable safety rating and possess the ability to fail safely. This third-party certification issues a SIL rating when a system is developed, and testing is required for re-certification. In an overpressure protection scenario, the SIL rating requires the HIPPS to detect and relieve pressure when it reaches a predetermined level, thus maintaining the system’s integrity.
As more operators recognize the value of HIPPS, key best practices should be followed. The advanced nature and effectiveness of this solution drives the need for HIPPS-specific experience, well-coordinated project management, and a commitment to meeting the standards of SIL rating certification.
HIPPS Expertise Essential for Quality Solutions
Experience is critical in the development of these pressure protection systems. The precise staging of multiple components necessitates a high degree of technical knowledge. Comprehensive understanding of components as well as the SIL certifications and safety testing requirements enable accuracy and reliability. The elevated level of complexity – both within the system itself and the process it is protecting – demands solution specific expertise. From system redundancies to SIL rating documentation and high-pressure welds, HIPPS is an advanced safety solution and the expertise of the team engaged in the development must match the critical nature of the project.
Integrated Project Management
A HIPPS solution can become complex and difficult to manage when the various components, ratings and certifications are supplied, built and coordinated by different entities. When safety is the primary consideration, single source accountability moves from desirable to essential.
Product specification from hardware and electronics to safety systems is best managed through a single source that not only understands the product functionality but also practical application and industry and site requirements. A streamlined approach helps ensure that everyone involved comprehends the importance of the HIPPS solution and is working to meet the end user’s specifications. The extensive safety requirements needed to meet third-party SIL certification must be adhered to and requires extensive coordination between engineering, fabricators and the end user. Collaboration and coordination are critical at every stage, including development, construction, SIL verification, proof testing and compliance reporting.
SIL Certification Testing Requirements
The ideal testing scenario is one where testing can occur without shutting down the plant or process. The right solution includes proof test procedures and automated partial stroke testing. Testing is mandated during system development and certain safety thresholds must be achieved before the SIL rating certification can be issued. Ongoing testing is required post-installation to maintain the certification. Proper proof testing is critical but ensuring testing occurs is only one consideration. Implementing ongoing testing solutions that can occur without plant shut down will maximize uptime and ensure the system will function when needed all while maintaining the essential SIL certification.
The potential for harm to persons and assets, noise pollutants, environmental contaminants and loss of revenue are just a few of the risks an operation faces when overpressure is not properly addressed. Working with a HIPPS expert, demanding an integrated approach to HIPPS development, and proper proof testing procedures are all best practices that will elevate your ability to mitigate overpressure risks.