workman at gas plant

Implementing effective asset integrity management systems

Portrait of Alessandro La Grotta

Alessandro La Grotta | Asset Integrity Lead, London | 14 May 2019

Asset Integrity Management is an integrated approach to optimizing the life cycle of your assets from conceptual design to operation, decommissioning, and disposal. Whether an asset is still a concept, or in its late operating life, developing and implementing Asset Integrity Management Systems (AIMS) for Oil & Gas assets is a challenge that many operators need to face.

Although defining an integrity management framework can be straightforward, implementation can be challenging. An AIMS will only be effective if implemented correctly, with business-as-usual execution, so that the principles, process, and technique are embedded in all levels of the organization. 

Ineffective asset integrity management can have serious consequences, from major accidents to maintenance costs increase to unplanned system shutdown. Therefore, operators should consider a few key factors to support successful implementation.

One size will never "fit all" 

There is no standard approach to implementing an asset integrity management system. Instead, many different methodologies, tools, and techniques are available. The multitude of choices often poses a challenge to arriving at the right decision. It is vital that the operator frames the challenge correctly-  understand where they are, where they want to go, and which approach should eventually be used.

To determine where you are and where you want to go, a framing workshop that includes a gap analysis should always be performed. A gap analysis is a strategic tool that helps you comprehend the current asset integrity practice, identify gaps against international codes and best practice, and determine the areas that need to be developed in support of the AIMS. However, the workshop is only valuable if it is conducted with the involvement of all relevant areas of the organization (operations, engineering, management, etc.).

Try to start with a “phased” approach

AIMS implementation is best accomplished in phases. The management team will generally benefit from a phased approach because it can see results in a shorter time, allowing it to understand how the system works, define and implement lessons learned, and move on to the next phase. Typically, a phased approach may involve:

Implementation of tasks according to criticality/priority leading to a differentiation in short-term, mid-term, and long-term
Implementation across a focused area or unit of the plant (i.e. separation unit) or one asset type (i.e. pipelines) before extension to the whole asset

The implementation will involve changes that need to be managed

Ensuring Asset Integrity Management work often requires the operator to make significant changes. This ranges from high-level organizational changes to process/system changes to the way simple maintenance tasks are performed. While dealing with these types of changes is definitely a challenge, it is vital that they are adequately managed and transparently communicated so that people in the organization are involved in the process from definition to implementation.

Changes in organizational culture may also be necessary. Senior management should be actively involved in communicating these changes at the right time to the right people, showing commitment to the principles of asset integrity management while providing the resources to implement it.

Use technical expertise where needed 

The implementation of AIMS demands that the right people are performing the right tasks, which may require technical consultancy assistance. Managing your assets requires a technical understanding of how each equipment/component behaves throughout the lifecycle to ensure that timely, purposeful, and relevant data is collected. Studies have shown that up to 75% of equipment failures can be prevented by having competent personnel. Therefore, having technical expertise in place is paramount to successful AIMS implementation, whether in the form of technical training, a technical consultant, or both.

The definition and implementation of an AIMS is not without significant challenges. However, with comprehensive understanding of your asset, you can establish a phased approach that is supported by key team members, management, and technical consultants who can successfully manage changes along the way to realize both the short- and long-term benefits across the lifecycle of your assets. 

For more information, contact Alessandro La Grotta

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