Inspectioneering Journal

Best Practices for Implementing a Risk Based Inspection (RBI) Program

By Stephen P. Webb, P.E., Asset Integrity Engineer at Metegrity. This article appears in the September/October 2017 issue of Inspectioneering Journal.


Implementing a Risk-Based Inspection (RBI) program from scratch can seem daunting due to the inherent challenges a company will face. To ensure that the implementation is completed smoothly, there are key considerations an organization should think through and prepare around. By doing so, the prolonged equipment life and cost saving benefits of RBI can be quickly realized.

What are some of the common challenges faced when starting an RBI program? To begin with, the effort required to collect and organize all the necessary data to perform an accurate assessment. The magnitude of this effort will be contingent upon the unique data load of the organization. It is imperative to ensure that the team is comprised of qualified members with the experience to perform accurate assessments. The company will need to utilize an RBI matrix that accurately reflects the organization’s unique Risk Profile comprised by Probability of Failure (PoF) and Consequence of Failure (CoF) factors. Finally, due to the dedication of time, resources and the repetitive nature of the RBI process, it is necessary to use a software product that can store, document and report on the analyses, results and recommendations.

Industry standards such as API 580/581 and ASME PCC-3 are recommended best practices for developing and quantifying RBI and its results. However, the owner/user has the freedom to develop their own in-house best practices for implementing an RBI system as long it is documented, logical and repeatable.

Two methods for achieving pressure equipment integrity are Time-Based inspection and Risk-Based inspection methodology.

A Time-Based asset integrity methodology requires less data collection and follows the intervals set in-house or by the local regulatory authority. The resultant outcome is a system wherein the inspection will occur on a regular basis, with little to no attention given to applying lessons learned or quantifying inspection measurements. Inspection resources, time and money can be wasted on performing unnecessary tasks. As a result, Time-Based strategies are more useful for equipment that has a known life-cycle and replacement schedule.

Use of an RBI methodology will require regular data collection and due diligence across multiple disciplines to identify, measure, and reassess key variables aimed at improving the reliability of assets. The RBI methodology should, typically evaluate the outcome of a Time-Based method. As a result, RBI allows for continuous improvement of inspection tasks and mitigation measures to be carried out at optimum intervals while simultaneously eliminating unnecessary work and equipment shutdowns.

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