On a per unit basis, gaskets are a relatively inexpensive product, and usually represent only a small fraction of the cost of the equipment onto which they are installed. However, when a gasket fails, the consequences of failure can be extremely expensive. Not only is there the cost of the lost throughput and productivity, but there is the additional consumption of maintenance resources to get the equipment back up and running. Additional costs can be incurred should plant personnel be injured as a result of the failure.
Given the significant costs associated with gasket failures, paying attention to the reasons why gaskets fail can yield big dividends.
There are essentially two types of gasket failure modes. Gasket blowout is the catastrophic failure of a gasket, resulting in the instantaneous and forceful leakage of media. The second failure mode is chronic leakage, where a gasket progressively deteriorates over time, causing small amounts of media to leak. Both types of failure modes are often caused by unevenly distributed pressure forces at the joint, stress relaxation and torque loss, uneven flange surfaces, and temperature.
While the main causes of gasket failure are well-known, companies should perform a root cause analysis on every gasket failure. Once the root cause is identified, appropriate corrective and preventive actions can be taken to prevent recurrence of the failure. Recording and tracking failure histories and causes in a database can also help identify undesirable trends and help ensure that corrective/preventive actions undertaken were effective in reducing the recurrence of failures.
Too often, when addressing gasket failures, companies fail to distinguish between correction and corrective action. Correction is treating the symptoms of failure – replacing the gasket and getting the equipment back online. Corrective action, on the other hand, identifies the root cause of the failure, leading to the development and implementation of an appropriate intervention designed to prevent recurrence. Because it treats the underlying causes and not the symptoms, corrective action is always to be preferred to correction.
To identify the root causes of gasket failures, companies can adopt proven problem solving routines as appropriate. The key point is to understand the root cause of a gasket failure and not to fall into the trap of merely treating symptoms.
Canada Rubber Group Inc. has worked with companies in a wide variety of industries to help them address their sealing issues and challenges. We can help you to choose the right gasket material for your application and avoid some of the common causes of gasket failure. We carry a wide selection of premium gasket materials, including sheet from Teadit North America. Contact our sales staff at email@example.com to find out how we can help with your sealing needs.