Inspectioneering Journal

Keys to Success: How to Design and Use Effective Reliability and Integrity Program Assessments to Drive Sustainable Improvements

By Walt Sanford, President at Pinnacle, and Mauricio Olivares, Client Solutions Engineer at Pinnacle. This article appears in the January/February 2016 issue of Inspectioneering Journal.


Equipment integrity and reliability programs are essential for refinery and chemical facility operators. The processes of the programs are developed to ensure safety, optimize component life cycles, and promote smooth and economical operations. Yet, before such programs can be correctly built or optimized, a mechanical integrity and reliability assessment can serve as a powerful tool for improvement.

Assessing: The Greater Context

Assessments should not be confused with audits. An audit is characterized by pass/fail, it must be enforced, requires documented proof, and demands actions from findings. An assessment, on the other hand, aims at sustained improvement, taking input as fact, and ensuring that findings lead to solutions.

Overall, the purpose of an assessment is to evaluate how inspection, reliability, and all relevant parties effectively manage the integrity and maintenance at a facility. However, the assessment should never be executed without a greater understanding of program vision and implementation. As an example, if an assessment is being used to drive a significant gap closure plan, then the overall process should look as follows:

  1. Develop Vision: Clearly define the desired state of a future program, including targeted metrics and goals.
  2. Assess Current State: Assess the current state of the program when compared to the vision. This should be done at an effective set of representative sites, if possible.
  3. Close the Gaps: Build and execute implementation roadmaps to close the gap between the vision and the current program.
  4. Change Management: Administer effective change management to ensure the newly implemented program is effectively transitioned to the onsite personnel.
  5. Evergreen Program: Manage the program using strategic key performance indicators (KPIs) that are set up to quickly identify deviations from the vision and empower targeted correction.

An assessment that neglects this wider context as listed above, will never realize its full value potential.

Cascading Sponsorship

Before starting the actual assessment, cascading the sponsorship of the wider plan across the company is crucial. This includes not only the assessment itself, but also the vision and the follow up gap closure plans that are linked to specific gaps found through the assessment.

If the assessment involves multiple sites, there needs to be sponsorship and alignment not only within the current facilities, but also properly broadcasted through the appropriate channels. This typically involves healthy collaboration between corporate stakeholders and the individuals at the site. It is often wise to bring representative site managers, engineers, and technicians into the assessment process as early as possible.

Typically, success cannot be obtained if there is not appropriate corporate and/or facility sponsorship vertically (from top to bottom) and horizontally (each site should be properly represented and incentivized). The assessment might be ineffective if any layer of the organization does not invest the time and effort to incur collaborative interaction through the entire process.

This content is available to registered users and subscribers

Register today to unlock this article for free.

Create your free account and get access to:

  • Unlock one premium article of your choosing per month
  • Exclusive online content, videos, and downloads
  • Insightful and actionable webinars
Interested in unlimited access? VIEW OUR SUBSCRIPTION OPTIONS

Current subscribers and registered users can log in now.

Comments and Discussion

There are no comments yet.

Add a Comment

Please log in or register to participate in comments and discussions.

Inspectioneering Journal

Explore over 20 years of articles written by our team of subject matter experts.

Company Directory

Find relevant products, services, and technologies.

Training Solutions

Improve your skills in key mechanical integrity subjects.

Case Studies

Learn from the experience of others in the industry.


Inspectioneering's index of mechanical integrity topics – built by you.

Industry News

Stay up-to-date with the latest inspection and asset integrity management news.


Read short articles and insights authored by industry experts.

Expert Interviews

Inspectioneering's archive of interviews with industry subject matter experts.

Event Calendar

Find upcoming conferences, training sessions, online events, and more.


Downloadable eBooks, Asset Intelligence Reports, checklists, white papers, and more.

Videos & Webinars

Watch educational and informative videos directly related to your profession.


Commonly used asset integrity management and inspection acronyms.