Two technologies, immediately available to plant operators for fixed equipment life-cycle management are Risk-Based Inspection4 (RBI) and Fitness for Service5 (FFS), two best practices that optimally work together or can standalone. Both have abilities of scalable accuracy. The accuracy is scalable from more qualitative modeling, with debits built-in for lack of information (scatter in the prediction) and erring to the conservative, producing higher risks or more conservative results, to more quantitative, more data, more modeling, based on risk and proximity to potential end of life producing more accurate results with less scatter in the prediction. Please keep this important fact in mind, technology is only one part of the process, having the “right” people engaged at the “right” junctures in the work process are equally, if not more important. The FFS5 standard mentioned above addresses the qualifications of FFS practitioners and API RBI RP 580, 2nd Edition, November 2009, provides guidance on RBI team members and their qualifications.
Whether the market conditions are favorable or not, equipment reliability is often important for health and safety, environmental and business success. Notice I said “often” and not always. Why? There are many times when reliability at all costs does not make sense, the criteria, whether stated or not, is “fluid”. Hence the need for effective Equipment Life- Cycle Management (LCM) practices, programs and policies. The risk and business worlds are dynamic, not static, as demonstrated by the spinning, not static, swiss cheese model as illustrated in API RP 7543. So it is time for a real change and for owner operator management to be committed to effective change. “The significant problems we face cannot be solved from the same level of thinking at which they were created”, Albert Einstein. So how do we manage 10’s of thousands of pieces of equipment, especially complex piping systems, in a dynamically, changing environment, effectively?