Inspectioneering Journal

Swiss Cheese, Bow Ties and Normalization of Deviance

How to Prevent Failures Using Risk Based Integrity Management

By Barry Snider, President and CEO at Small Hammer Incorporated. This article appears in the March/April 2012 issue of Inspectioneering Journal.

Swiss cheese: the rich, nutty flavored, smooth textured gift from Switzerland noted for its randomly distributed holes.

Bow ties: those unique neck adornments worn by exquisite partygoers and colorful clowns.

Normalization of Deviance: a relatively recent phrase defining an underlying cause for many of the most catastrophic failures in the industrial world.

There is a distinctive link among these three seemingly unrelated terms in the area of Risk Based Integrity Management. Risk Based Integrity Management (RBIM) is the latest process for developing strategies to properly operate and maintain a manufacturing or production facility in the Oil, Gas, and Petrochemical Industry (OG&P). RBIM is a significant change from previous processes that drive the industry into specific directions for managing risk. Many of these embraced processes have had significant influence in how managers make decisions regarding their businesses. A few of the common processes that are still viable include; Process Safety Management, Safety Case, Reliability Centered Maintenance, Green Initiatives, Lean Manufacturing, Responsible Care, Risk-based Inspection, Total Productive Maintenance, Pace Setter Performer, and a few other rating criteria. These processes drive a particular behavior from a top down approach in an attempt to achieve mostly vague, yet lofty, goals and objectives. The problem with almost all of them is that they concentrate on only one or two areas of performance and do not encompass all of the activities and behaviors necessary for a company to manage their entire business. RBIM includes all areas of performance that make a business viable and safe to operate no matter where the business is located or what process is being utilized.

The Silos of Performance Each Having Their Own Management Systems
The Silos of Performance Each Having Their Own Management Systems

Why is RBIM important to the future of the OG&P? For the first time, RBIM represents a process for cross-organizational collaboration, cooperation, and communication in making decisions for the design, development, manufacture, operation, maintenance, control, and management of change of equipment and processes.

Up till now, management processes were primarily developed as silos to achieve goals and objectives in specific areas and did not influence decisions in other areas of business concern. Does Process Safety Management influence Total Productive Maintenance? Does Reliability Centered Maintenance impact Green decisions? Does Safety Case include elements of Pace Setter Performance? Because of these management silos, oil well completions are rushed, turnarounds are shortened, training programs are slashed, and production rates are pushed past the design limitations. While senior management, financial stakeholders, stock holders, and ultimately the global community believe all important decisions are being managed throughout the organization, time and time again we realize this is not the case. RBIM is designed to bring all of these siloed management processes into an overall decision manage- ment system that extends to all areas of business performance throughout the life-cycle of OG&P facilities.

There have been other attempts at defining systems for developing asset management strategies. Two such systems are PAS55 and the ExxonMobil process Operations Integrity Management System or OIMS. PAS55 was developed in 2008 in response to industry and societal demands for more responsible management of physical assets, mainly in the infrastructure industries - utilities, roads and bridges, rail, airports and public facilities. It was written by the Institute of Asset Management (IAM) and published as a specification by the British Standards Institute. OIMS was developed in 1992 as an internal system for ExxonMobil. OIMS has formed a framework for other companies to develop similar asset management strategies. Unlike these and most other asset management systems, RBIM is more prescriptive in performing risk analysis, defining risk mitigation activities, and implementing strategies and tactics. A comparison of the three mentioned processes is shown in the following table:

How is RBIM different than the many other processes for managing integrity, or reliability, or safety, or quality? For one thing, RBIM includes many aspects of these processes. Integrity, as in Asset Integrity or Mechanical Integrity has historically been limited to preventing rupture or leaks of pressure containing equipment and piping. Processes for reliability such as Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) or Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) define preventive and predictive maintenance tasks at the equipment level to delay, detect, or diminish failures. Processes for safety focus on identifying hazards and developing protective measures. Processes for quality utilize statistics and trends to effectively monitor and compare produced products to a well-defined standard. All of these processes follow a familiar strategy model of "PLAN-DO-ASSESS-ADJUST" or "PLAN-DO-CHECK-ACT" often credited to W. Edward Deming. RBIM builds upon this simple model to incorporate all areas of importance for an operating company. The Universal Management Cycle (Figure 2), specifically the items shown in red, forms the basis for the RBIM process.

How are all areas of importance included in this business model? At the top of the cycle is the first step in the process "Performance Standards". The Performance Standards can be whatever you, as an owner operator, define as important. This could be personnel safety, the environment, production, reliability, quality, profit, operating costs, business sustainability, regulatory compliance, community relations, customer satisfaction, you name it. The RBIM process is applicable to whatever areas are chosen to be included in the process. There is really no need to utilize different processes for analyzing different areas of importance. The same RBIM process can be used for all of these areas which also develops a cross-organizational strategy and program for improving performance and managing risk.

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