Inspectioneering Journal

The Ten Foundational Management Systems Needed to Achieve FEMI Operational Excellence

By John Reynolds, Principal Consultant at Intertek. This article appears in the July/August 2023 issue of Inspectioneering Journal.


Over the last 50+ years of my fixed equipment mechanical integrity (FEMI) career, I have been involved in conducting FEMI audits/assessments at well over 125 petroleum, gas processing, and petrochemical operating sites. As such, I have had a chance to witness firsthand most of the best practices for FEMI that propel the best operating sites to achieve FEMI operational excellence (OE). This article summarizes at a high level what the top 25% of those sites have been able to accomplish by implementing what I believe are FEMI best practices. With that in mind, I have constructed what I call the FEMI operational excellence pyramid of the ten major FEMI management systems that I have observed in these numerous audits/assessments. These FEMI management systems provide the necessary foundations to help the top 25% of the sites we have assessed achieve FEMI operational excellence. Figure 1 shows these foundational systems as layers of the FEMI operational excellence pyramid.

Figure 1. The FEMI Pyramid of Management Systems to Achieve FEMI Operational Excellence
Figure 1. The FEMI Pyramid of Management Systems to Achieve FEMI Operational Excellence

Before I get into describing what each foundational layer includes, let me describe what I consider to be FEMI operational excellence. One could write an entire article on what’s included in FEMI operational excellence, but that’s for a later time. For now, let me propose a brief definition. FEMI operational excellence happens when all the essential elements (and their associated best practices) for FEMI are implemented and well maintained, such that the site is able to achieve its operational business plan – scheduled production of hydrocarbon products – without the occurrence of any significant process safety events caused by FEMI failures (the integrity part of FEMI) or loss profit opportunity (LPO; the reliability part of FEMI). As you read this article, keep asking yourself: “Does my operating facility have all ten of these FEMI foundational layers in place and functioning effectively in order for my site to achieve FEMI operational excellence?” then, “If not, where do we need to improve?”

Additionally, this article briefly outlines some of the most significant FEMI procedures/practices contained in each of those ten major FEMI management systems, shown as foundational layers of the FEMI pyramid in Figure 1. For the experienced Inspectioneer, none of these FEMI management systems will be new to you as a FEMI practitioner, but hopefully, this article will help visualize how all these FEMI management systems and their associated best practices form the foundational layers in Figure 1. Note that even though I will describe each major FEMI management system as if it were an entity itself, they are all significantly intertwined with each of the other FEMI management systems. As such, they are all interconnected like parts of a spider web, and they all work together to help the best performing sites to achieve FEMI operational excellence at the top of our FEMI pyramid, which is the primary goal of the FEMI work process.

So, let’s start from the base of our FEMI operational excellence pyramid in Figure 1 and work our way up to the top, where some sites we have assessed in our numerous audits/assessments have achieved a high level of FEMI operational excellence by effectively implementing FEMI best practices within each of these ten major management systems.

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