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5 Steps for Improving Risk Based Inspection Assessments

ABS Group Technical Inspection and Verification

5 Steps for Improving Risk Based Inspection Assessments

When asset owners and operators increase their awareness of which mistakes to avoid during risk based inspection (RBI), the payoff is significant. Our mechanical integrity (MI) engineers have compiled a short list of lessons learned to address common pitfalls when performing RBI assessments. Taking these steps can ultimately help companies maximize project quality while completing projects on time and within budget as well as improve the effectiveness of RBI assessments.

How to Avoid Common Inspection Pitfalls 

1. Understand the full scope of work.

The scope of work is the foundation of an RBI program and guides efforts during the lifecycle of this process. Failing to have a detailed extensive discussion about the scope, establish procedures and have a clear inspection strategy compromises project success. Setbacks can arise from an underdeveloped plan or failure to conduct the appropriate studies needed to fully map out a comprehensive scope of work for your asset and/or facility.

During the development stage of a project, organizations may decide to leave out certain aspects of the technical work which were documented earlier on in the project scope. However, as we have experienced, this miscommunication and omission can result in project delays and rework later on, and possibly the need to add resources. Depending on whether those resources are available also affects timing and budget.

Selecting which RBI model to use can also present problem areas during the development phase. Failures to properly document the approach decided upon can make reassessment unending, difficult and potentially impossible. Therefore, it is important to know from the outset what your desired goal will be, whether that is a financial benefit or inspection optimization, as well as your key process indicators so that the inspection team does not lose sight of its targets and anticipated results.

Another area of scope to be mindful of during RBI is data validation. Without the development of a comprehensive list of covered assets and processes, a project can easily balloon beyond its intended scope, or even worse, leave out critical assets.

2. Manage data quality during the collection and documentation process.

Data collection is a simple but fundamental component in the RBI assessment which can be overlooked or underestimated. Furthermore, if the data that is collected is inadequate, the final product will also be inadequate. 

Unorganized data exhausts time and resources, so it is important to organize and prioritize. Inaccurate, outdated and insufficient (or missing) data can also compromise inspection efforts such as when assets or equipment have been replaced and are not accounted for with the proper equipment documentation.

Vast quantities of data do not necessarily equal quality data. Excess data may even increase the likelihood of errors. Those who are not as familiar with the facility may be more likely to choose incorrect data if they have too much available to use. Therefore, it is better to tailor the quantity of data given to the engineer performing the review or seek out a third party to provide objective data analytics.

Not providing data on time is another pitfall that could affect the pace of the inspection, leading to rework and cost overruns, so project quality management is critical to success.

3. Perform a damage mechanism assessment.

Damage mechanism review is a required element of a process safety management program and an important step in developing an effective MI plan. If a facility does not perform a comprehensive review of potential damage mechanisms based on criteria such as service, operating conditions, metallurgy and start-up/shut-down conditions, inspection efforts may be compromised. And if there is a lack of procedure for classifying damage mechanisms, such as corrosion under insulation, to address these suspect areas, inspection efforts and data may be compromised.

To learn how to perform a damage mechanism review and access additional resources on this topic, request our Damage Mechanism Review Toolkit

4. Define a comprehensive risk model strategy and profile for your facility.

Our technical inspection team was requested to inspect a chemical company's plant facilities and merge the results of the RBI assessments. However, it was discovered that the facilities were using different risk matrices. The objective to merge the facilities' inspection results was compromised by a lack of synergy among the operating facilities and a corporate risk model strategy. In this case, the facilities were operating independently, rendering their efforts as less effective than if they were to follow a consolidated and comprehensive risk strategy across the enterprise.

That said, every facility type is different, and it is well understood that each facility will have its own consequences of failure (COF), such as an acid leak in a chemical plant or a pipeline rupture in a refinery. Similar to organizing and controlling data quality, all assets, systems and associated equipment should be well documented within each facility in a master asset list to optimize inspection procedures.

With all of these moving parts involved, it is also important to be decisive and capture all of the relevant information that will be required in a timely manner. Do not underestimate the leadership skills necessary to facilitate effective risk-based decision making. Assembling the right team is another fundamental step to avoid the above common pitfalls and improve the inspection process.

5. Hire a qualified team.

Is your RBI team qualified to carry out the scope of work effectively and efficiently? Is there an RBI leader directing the team as well as a client facilitator managing project quality? In addition to assembling the right mix of practitioners to perform an effective RBI assessment and oversee its successful execution, facility operators must provide team members with a clear scope of work, quality data and documentation, a comprehensive inspection strategy and the training and procedures necessary to help them achieve safer, more reliable operations.

Having a qualified team in place will not only enable your facility to outline a comprehensive MI plan, but experienced RBI practitioners and corrosion specialists will help you rank critical assets and identify recommended actions to help reduce the potential for damage and expensive maintenance over the long term.

ABS Group provides technical inspection and risk management services as well as specialized mechanical integrity and root cause analysis expertise for your facility. Contact us to request a quote.

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