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Lightning strikes twice...reliability modeling to the rescue

Turning to data modeling to find out “What are the odds?”

By Christine LaFave Grace, managing editor

On paper, at least, it seemed like sufficient redundancy. Global chemicals company SABIC, headquartered in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, has a Saudi Arabian affiliate that produces industrial gases for a large number of SABIC businesses and other companies in the region. To avoid the wide-ranging impacts that unplanned downtime would have on customers, the affiliate has a backup power feed and eight production units operating in parallel. 

 “We have all kinds of redundancies; it looked very robust,” says John Bruijnooge, director of technical services at SABIC. The affiliate hadn’t suffered a major outage in its 30 years of production, and there was a “high level of confidence” in its ability to stay online, come what may, Bruijnooge says.

But then in May 2017, what came was a major electrical storm. Lightning struck the main power feed; the feed went out. Within a second, another strike hit the backup feed. “And then it became dark,” Bruijnooge says.

Continue reading on our sister site, Plant Services, right here. 

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