API RP 578 & Material Verification Programs (MVP)

Emily Kingland
June 23, 2020
API RP 578 & Material Verification Programs (MVP)

We love it when it shakes our movie theater seats. Big structures coming down in fiery explosions while the Avengers battle Thanos.

When it happens because of Iron Man, it’s awesome, but no one is popping popcorn over the catastrophes that occur when proper material verification isn’t being practiced (unless you’re a horrible person).

There’s one recommended practice that’s designed specifically to prevent the destruction of large assets: API Recommended Practice 578.

As serious accidents continue to occur in places like the oil and gas sector, there's more emphasis being placed on the requirements and recommendations for proper verification of assets and component materials.

But there’s not a lot of content on why it’s needed and how to get training.

So I did some digging into my experiences as a consultant at Metal Analysis Group and I’ve come up with a list of everything you need to know about Recommended Practice 578.

Let’s start with what it is.

What is API RP 578? API Recommended Practice 578 is the recommended practice that provides the guidelines for the development and implementation of a material verification program or MVP as a part of an asset integrity program.

In this article I’m going to cover:

  • The relationship between RP 578 and MVP
  • How the practice is enforced
  • The training needed to comply with RP 578

So pop some popcorn, pause your debate over whether Iron Man’s suit is a ferrous or non-ferrous alloy, and let's get into it.

Psst: This post is based on a podcast with co-host Chris Carolan. To hear this episode (and more like it), subscribe to The Manufacturing Show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

The relationship between RP578 and MVP

Alright, I defined RP 578, but what is MVP?

What MVP is: A Material Verification Program is a quality assurance program that ensures you are doing all the right things to verify the conformance of the material that you're using.

What MVP does: MVP uses positive material identification and other methods to verify that the nominal composition of an asset or component is well within the pressure envelope consistent with the selected construction material.

A well designed and implemented MVP is an important management system used to minimize the potential for the release of hazardous substances due to nonconforming materials of construction.

Okay, great, but how does RP 578 come in?

RP578 provides the guidelines for MVPs

  • For both ferrous and non-ferrous alloys
  • Used during construction, installation, maintenance, and inspection of new and existing process equipment.

It applies to the metallic materials purchased for use either directly by the owner and user or indirectly through distributors, fabricators, and contractors.

And it includes the supply, fabrication, and installation of these materials.

The recommended practice applies to all refining and petrochemical industries and may be applied to other industries and businesses at the discretion of the owner or user.

The main reason RP 578 exists

It is intended to be applied by any owner or user wishing to verify and validate that the materials of construction received, fabricated, or installed are in accordance with the material and company specifications.

How is RP 578 enforced?

Recommended practices are generally defined and created by the organizational groups that are within that industry.  It’s kind of a self-policing mechanism that industries and businesses use on themselves without necessarily involving government intervention.

Nonetheless, when it comes to oil and gas and refinery operations, the government has to keep a close eye on environmental impacts and worker safety.

The refineries have done a good job generally of creating their own standards to operate by. And this specific recommended practice RP 578 comes from the American Petroleum Institute or API.

The API is a consortium of refiners in the oil and gas industry.

Because these companies would rather have the government as uninvolved as possible, they've created this internal regulatory body. This body is able to create their own standards that they hold everybody in the industry accountable to.

API imposes these recommended practices on:

  • All refineries
  • All the related vendors
  • All the parts manufacturers
  • All the inspection companies that make sure the piping systems are healthy and maintained properly

RP 578 plays a very important role in keeping the public safe and avoiding environmental disasters.

The training needed to comply with RP 578

When you have material verification programs or quality control programs that are audited regularly by industry regulators, training is a very important part of those programs.

It ensures that your personnel is up to speed on the testing or quality management that they're taking part in.

Two options for training:

Surprisingly, there are only two options for this training at the moment.

  1. The Analytical Training Consultants or ATC - Owned and operated by Don Mears.

His focus tends to be more on the global scale, but he does do regular training in the Texas area.

  1. The Metal Analysis Group

This is a United States-focused training program that travels to different refining communities around the US.

Let's take a look at these two courses side-by-side:

Analytical Training
ConsultantsThe Metal
Analysis GroupSectorGlobalU.S.Course locationTexasAll throughout U.S.Price$1250-$1750$995-$1495

In Case You Skipped to the End

In case you’re like me and you just want the TL:DR, here it is.

RP 578 provides the guidelines for Material Verification Programs in the refinery sector.

Every business has to comply if it serves refineries:

  • Inspection agencies
  • Parts fabricators
  • The refineries themselves

You’ve got to have training to comply fully.

Two companies offer training. Those two are:

  1. Analytical Training Consultants
  2. Metal Analysis Group

Okay, back to whether Iron Man’s suit is ferrous or non-ferrous. You would think it would be ferrous; it’s right in the name.

To learn more about manufacturing best practices, subscribe to The Manufacturing Show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.