Flaws can arise both during the manufacture and service of metallic components. For safety-critical items the failure of even a single component can threaten life and the environment. Conversely, some flaws are harmless and will not lead to failure during the lifetime of the component.
Replacement and/or repair of such flaws is economically wasteful and could even lead to the introduction of more severe flaws. A fitness-for-service procedure, based on fracture mechanics principles, allows flaws to be evaluated consistently and decisions made on remaining life, repair, replacement or downrating.
Although several fitness-for-service procedures already exist ( e.g. API579, BS7910), there is a need for a European procedure and ultimately a European (CEN) standard.
A European thematic network, FITNET (FITness-for-service NETwork), has recently been launched to address this need. This is part-funded by the EU, co-ordinated by GKSS in Germany. Thirty additional participants from European industry, research organisations and universities provide input in the form of know-how and links with other research programmes. FITNET encompasses fourteen European countries including several of the EU 'candidate countries' such as Poland, Slovenia and Hungary. Self-funded contributions from other organisations and individuals are also welcome.
The network started in February 2002 and will run until the end of February 2006. Activities planned by FITNET include:
- reviewing existing procedures and research findings on fitness-for-service,
- generating case studies and educational material,
- holding public seminars and training workshops,
- liaising with CEN on standardisation
Further details can be found on the network website - www.eurofitnet.org