Inspectioneering Journal

Maximize the Value of RBI Program Implementation

By Stephen Hall, Senior Mechanical Integrity Advisor at AVH Engineering. This article appears in the January/February 2023 issue of Inspectioneering Journal.


What does it mean to “maximize the value of RBI program implementation?” Many owner/users still consider risk-based inspection (RBI) programs a necessary evil or a regulatory mandate that provides little or no return on investment. This article will demonstrate that, if approached logically, a properly implemented RBI program can provide a positive return on investment.

The author has been engaged in managing and auditing RBI assessments for over 25+ years at a wide variety of facilities in North America, the Middle East, and Africa. From lessons learned, it has become clear that if an RBI program is well-thought-out, planned logically, managed properly, and has continuous management support, it can and should provide a positive return on investment.

Lessons Learned

In the process of observing a myriad of RBI implementations, the following issues have routinely been encountered:

  • Client management of programs was diffuse (i.e., no one individual had the ultimate responsibility and authority to address contractual and technical issues), leading to wasted resources.
  • Program technical requirements were not clearly defined or updated over time.
  • Required program front-end tasks were not addressed.
  • Assessment and implementation of work processes were not executed following logical steps, resulting in re-work.
  • Post-implementation, sustainment programs to keep the RBI program evergreened lacked long-term follow-through.

The root causes of many of these issues stem from:

  • Owner/user managers responsible for cost and contract performance lacked the means of control over engineering, site decision-making, and resource utilization.
  • There was a limited understanding by owner/user team members of the short-term and long-term goals of the RBI program.
  • There was an over-reliance on “book smarts” vs. field experience. There was a tendency to define all potential damage mechanisms (DM) rather than the three to six most likely DMs that would determine the inspection program. From an engineering perspective, a lack of field experience to temper academic knowledge, especially on the part of more junior engineers, was observed.
  • The value of program implementation was not addressed or was poorly defined.
  • There was a tendency to indulge in over-engineering (e.g., the urge to determine the probability of failure or value of a consequence to the second or third decimal point) when the primary goal was to determine the order of magnitude of a probability of failure (POF) or consequence of failure (COF).

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