CSI Investigator

Paul Murphy


In a world that now likes to pass the blame for anything, it’s very apparent that this epidemic needs to be reversed. I believe this blame culture exists for lots of reasons, wrongly in most cases! It is done for many reasons, nearly all of which are simply not right! This epidemic has spread into our business life almost unnoticed on a daily basis … It’s unnoticed because it has become so common.

Most businesses will tell you that it is all about the bottom line (ie. amount of profit made as opposed to the amount of turnover), and obviously this is very true. However, when do sales simply become short term gains? And when does good old fashioned common sense and conscience take over? And (I bet you are now asking!) what the heck does all this have to do with my gaskets?

- True Story:

We were asked to replace pretty much an entire production facility with a product that regulated torque and prevents over-compression of the tri-clover style gasket. Thus making the gasket the perfect fit, creating the perfect seal, with no over tightening or under tightening - it was surely an order not to be missed!! And we had just been told it was all coming our way... woo hoo!

Fortunately/unfortunately for us, we have lots of common sense and we have a heart. The theory was great, the order was large, but sadly we couldn’t accept it.

Why? Because it would have caused more harm than good. Because the pipework in question was, let’s just say, not user friendly (prone to jumping out and attacking you or in short, they were misaligned).

This meant that whilst the regulated torque setting would have fulfilled its duties as it was supposed to, a lot of the tri-clover style joints/unions in the pipework would have had a lovely escape route for the product to dispense itself! All over the wall, ceiling, floor and technicians … you get the point.

Moral of the story – The New Torque control system would have gotten the blame, along with the gaskets and of course our company! 

When looking at process issues, however large or small, we really need to look at ALL the clues – It’s just like CSI Miami … Normally, it is never the first person you think of who carried out the crime … So, just like CSI, it is never that simple in establishing the true crime which is being committed in your process systems.

Victim of misalignment!

Why can pipework be misaligned?

·     Why do gaskets get over tightened?

·     Why do joints leak?

In other words, It’s not always the first appearing and most obvious looking clue!! You need to be like any CSI agent and look at the “scene of the crime” with an open mind and take in all the information without prejudice or previous expectation:

·     How old is the gasket?

            How do you know this ?

·     How often is it changed?

            How do you know this ?

·     How old is the clamp?

            How do you know ?

·     How often is the clamp changed?

When we ask How do you know - we mean Really & Honestly HOW DO you know ….)

That may sound excessive and it may or may not be required, however, knowing is the key. As old and worn out clamps and gaskets will cause downtime and batch failure. Last time I checked, the cost of new clamps and gaskets was out stripped the cost of a batch by about a million to one …

So coming back to my initial rant about blame – in the case above it would have been apportioned to an innocent victim.

Bottom line for that month was greatly reduced by not having the said project on our books. Bottom line for the rest of the year was great because we never lost the customer and in fact carried out a lot more investigation work with them.

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