Keeping it Real in the World of Fitness for Service Assessments
Rob Johnson, Head of Axiom’s Engineering Services department, celebrates Axiom’s fifteenth year of providing plant support to the owners and operators of process plant. From the beginning, a key vision for Axiom was to be able to provide high quality engineering assessment and analysis of high risk pressure systems and structures.
Discussing this with Rob, he explains why he identified a need to build a team around four key principles:
1. The need to respond quickly to client requests
Especially in shut down situations or where critical plant equipment had to come off-line due to problems. Rob said, “Time is money after all, but fortunately none of our clients would wish to compromise on safety. They want the job doing with urgency but it has to be right and that means doing it safely and with integrity.”
2. To be versatile
Rob was keen to emphasise Axiom’s forward-looking approach towards versatility and said, “We truly believe that you can’t be an effective Fitness for Purpose Practitioner by working in only one discipline. It is important to have ‘subject matter experts’ but this can lead to blinkered thinking if engineers can only work in one area. Axiom’s engineers are encouraged to “dive” deep into subject areas but all are encouraged to know how to apply fitness for purpose principles to a wide range of industry equipment.”
3. Stay pragmatic
Rob continued, “This is plant based engineering we’re doing after all, we’re not a team of academics trying to win a Nobel Prize for science. Against our competitors, head to head, Axiom can sweat a finite element analysis (FEA) model as well as the best.”
However, a “pet hate” of Rob’s is the tendency for consultancies to reach for FEA solutions before more practical and economic assessment methods are considered first. Rob added, “Before we reach for FEA, we always consider the design codes and other proven design by rule approaches. We have lots of National and International codes and standards to use that provide safe and ready analysis techniques. People can go straight to FEA but it’s often a long walk around to a solution.”
As well as fitness for purpose practitioners, Axiom has engineers who have held responsible positions on top-tier COMAH sites as well as having worked for the Health and Safety Executive. We understand the issues that owner’s face and can deliver implementable solutions whilst satisfying the Regulator’s expectations.
4. And finally…Stay young!
Rob insists that this isn’t being ageist but acknowledges that a key problem for our industry is the skills gap and the loss of knowledgeable engineers. He went on to say, “At Axiom, we invested in graduates from the beginning but also in obtaining the services of more experienced engineers to act as mentors and guides. The result is a “best of both worlds” culture. On many occasions I have sat in front of potential clients that tell me of their concern that they use this consultant, or that engineer, but they are worried because they know these people are about to retire but the company they work for has no credible plans to replace them.”
Here at Axiom, we can assure clients that we’ll be here for them next month, next year or even in five years’ time. We have established a talented, capable team and that’s why we keep growing on the back of repeat business and referrals.