Failure Analysis

Failure analysis is often defined as the process of collecting and analyzing data to determine the cause of a failure and how to prevent it from recurring [Wikipedia].

For PCP systems, failure analysis is the process of identifying the root cause of a PCP system failure and using the results to identify strategies to increase the PCP system run-life. A PCP system has failed if any of its components are no longer able to perform the required function. The failure cause is defined as the circumstances during design, manufacturing or use which led to a failure.

Failure analysis is among the most important means of improving the performance of a PCP system. People often say that they do not have time to perform failure analysis. Our view is:

"If you don't have the time to stop these failures from recurring, how are you going to find the time to keep fixing them?" - Alexander (Sandy) Dunn, Getting Root Cause Analysis to Work for You

There are three main areas of failure analysis: failure identification, root causes analysis and selection of remedial actions, and failure tracking and benchmarking. C-FER is heavily involved in moving forward failure tracking and benchmarking in the industry with its ESP-RIFTS and PCP-RIFTS programs. C-FER also offers a one day Failure Analysis Course to provide direction on proper failure analysis techniques.

Failure Description and Identification

It is important that failures are described and classified in a consistent manner so that similar failures can be properly grouped and analyzed.

  • Stator Failures (Fatigue, Wear, Fluid Incompatibility, ...)
  • Rotor Failures (Wear, Heat Cracking, Fatigue ...)
  • Rod String Failure Mechanisms (Fatigue, Excessive Torque...)
  • Tubing String Failures (Wear, Corrosion,...)

Failure Symptoms, Root Causes and Remedial Actions

The main process of a failure analysis is to identify symptoms of a failure (no fluid flow, high torque) that could indicate a system failure. Once a system failure has been identified, it is important to understand what caused the failure. By asking the question 'why' multiple times, the root cause of the failure can be identified. Only by understanding the root cause can successful remedial actions be taken to prevent a similar system failure from recurring.

Failure Tracking and Benchmarking

The goal of benchmarking is to improve system performance and to reduce costs. Benchmarking is a continuous process of measuring and evaluating progress over time to ensure decisions are made based on facts rather than opinion. Failure tracking is used to compile and store data upon which benchmarking can be performed. Failure tracking ensures the collection of quality data that reflects the system as a whole.

C-FER is heavily involved in failure tracking and benchmarking for PCP systems (PCP RIFTS) and ESP systems (ESP RIFTS) with over 10 years of failure tracking experience.

All above material is taken from the C-FER Technologies Progressing Cavity Pumping (PCP) Failure Analysis course handbook.