Loss Investigation in the Semiconductor Industry

Loss Investigation in the Semiconductor Industry

Massive facility fire losses avoided

Massive facility fire losses avoided

When an incident occurs the first step towards determining “what happened” is to conduct an investigation that combines professional expertise, broad experience, and an availability of specialty resources.

In 2016, a major semiconductor manufacturer experienced a loss when the engine driving the pump for the plant’s fire water system suffered an overheating failure. The facility managers contacted TÜV SÜD Global Risk Consultants (GRC) to conduct a loss investigation to determine the cause, extent of the damage, and if the pump engine could be returned to service.


Upon traveling to the facility, a TÜV SÜD GRC Senior Boiler & Machinery Consultant inspected the engine, noting signs of localized overheating and it was determined that the engine would require rebuild or replacement. The consultant determined root cause of the failure as the deterioration and leaking of one hose to the engine coolant heater, which resulted in coolant leaking from the engine’s closed loop system. This overheating melted the head gasket and/or warped the head, and coolant was then pushed into the oil side. The lack of lubrication began to wear on the internal components of the engine, resulting in the oily mixture.

The consultant shared contributing factors of the incident, which included failure of the hose/clamp, the oil pressure switch and high engine temperature alarms not reporting to a manned point, guard rounds not increased during emergency fire pump action, no coolant level gauge present in the engine, and the improper water/glycol mix.

In addition to a rebuild/ replacement of the engine, the consultant also recommended preventative measures to avoid re-occurrence: 

  • Periodic replacement of hoses and belts
  • Ensuring that low oil pressure and high engine temperature alarms report to a permanently manned location
  • Manning of the unit during operation
  • Installation of a sight glass or level indicator on the closed loop system to allow for inspection.

It must be noted that fire pump engines are not equipped with controls to trip the unit (oil pressure, temperature, etc.) as shutting the pump engine down could result in danger far worse than a failed engine and/or pump.

Savings to the Client

Thankfully, while the pump did overheat and fail, it did not cause a fire within the facility. Though the fire department was local, getting water to the scene would have been time consuming due to the size of the facility. This fire could have presented potentially devastating losses of approximately $30,000 to not only the facility, but to all who were supplied by it. The recommendations provided by the consultant’s loss investigation is just one example of the benefits of this service and the expertise of TÜV SÜD GRC engineers. The thorough inspection and recommendations provided the client with preventative measures to avoid future losses.

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