Inspectioneering Journal

You Don't Get Something for Nothing - Risk-Based Inspection

The significant problems we face cannot be solved from the same level of thinking at which they were created.

By Greg Alvarado, Chief Editor at Inspectioneering. This article appears in the May/June 2008 issue of Inspectioneering Journal.

Do we know how to free ourselves from the current level of thinking to rise to a higher level? It will take this for us to overcome many of our current challenges in the arena of equipment reliability. We are responsible for this critical role as the mission for many of us, when it comes to equipment integrity and reliability, goes something like this:

Achieve regulatory and corporate compliance, and ensure reliable use of equipment (including piping) for finite run times, while measuring, managing and minimizing risks and eliminating non-value adding activities and costs.

Risk would include health and safety and environmental elements, as well as business.

Items that may impede rising to a new level might be fear, greed, culture, politics, busyness, “turf wars”, pride, focus on short term profits, lack of appreciation for long term thinking and actions, prejudice, not researching the facts, ignorance (this can breed a state of unconscious incompetence), having the wrong people in the position, etc. Just throwing money at the challenges or still “doing it on the cheap” are not thinking at a higher level either. Industry has been doing this for quite some time, most unsuccessfully as evidenced by continued industry losses due to equipment failure.

Just because we place a new wrapper on a piece of software, add few buzzers and whistles or claim, “this software has an SAP link”, or to say it does everything (but having a shallow technical basis), we must ask ourselves, did that really do anything to raise us to a new level of thinking to help us overcome our problems? Would we really even know it? Do we have the courage to tell management or others what we really think? Do we know how to do it constructively without losing the substance of the message? Do we have the courage to say, “I made a mistake”?

As George Santayana wrote in his work, The Life of Reason, Vol. 1 Reason in Common Sense, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” So what are you doing differently? How are you improving, individually, personally, professionally? How are you migrating that to your fixed equipment reliability management program? I am a firm believer that personal growth is necessary before we can contribute significantly to other areas of our lives. One of the first places to start is with honesty, i.e. honesty with ourselves and with others. Check our motives. Are they noble? Are we making this decision or peddling our influence for selfish or noble reasons?

It isn’t easy, but few worthy endeavors are. Let’s start with, perhaps one of the biggest challenges......

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