In 2002, TWI Ltd. carried out a questionnaire-based survey of “user experience of plant life management practices,” to gain a better understanding of the reality of plant life management and the needs of plant operators [Iravani and Speck, 2002, “Industry Survey of Risk Based Life Management Practices and Their Relationship to Fitness-for-Service Assessment,” TWI Report No. 13032/5/02]. In 2003, the European fitness-for-service network reported the results of their survey on “current application and future requirements for European fitness-for-service (FFS) technology” [Filiou et al. 2003, “Survey of Current Application and Future Requirements for European Fitness-for-Service Technology,” Technical Report No. FITNET/TR2/03, FITNET Consortium]. In 2006, the management of aging plant became a regulatory hot topic in the UK with a health and safety executive document on the subject being released [Health and Safety Executive, 2006, “Plant Ageing: Management of Equipment Containing Hazardous Fluids or Pressure,” RR509]. Considering also the recent release of the new API/ASME joint FFS standard [2007, API 579-1/ASME FFS-1, Fitness-For-Service, 1st ed., The American Petroleum Institute and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Washington, DC], TWI Ltd. decided 2007 was the ideal time to carry out an updated industry survey to assess how developments such as these might affect plant life management practices in different industry sectors across the world. The aims of this survey were to gain an insight into current FFS trends across several industry sectors and how these may change in the future. Information was gathered as to how different companies handle their FFS activities, both in terms of the types of flaw they assess and the complexity of the assessments they carry out. The survey also investigated how safety regulating authorities view FFS activities and whether or not they accept the results as the basis for plant integrity management decisions. Closely related to this is whether there is a need for better regulation of FFS activities, FFS training, or, indeed, whether FFS qualifications should be introduced. This paper presents the results of the online industry survey and draws pragmatic conclusions that will be of interest to all those involved with FFS activities, from inspectors to researchers and from engineers to insurers.

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