Blog: Reducing Operating Risk and Lowering the Cost of Asset Management

Posted on Thursday, April 12, 2018

Lower commodity prices and tighter capital markets are forcing owners and operators to invest more carefully in sustaining capital and debottlenecking projects.  Speed of project execution becomes paramount.

Traditional approaches to retrofits and asset integrity management (AIM) projects do not guarantee success.  Upgrading projects can be hampered by incomplete records, outdated P&ID's and inefficient execution.  Conventional AIM projects get bogged down by the cycle of site visits, redlining drawings, re-generating as-builts and filling in information gaps.  Traditional hazard and operability assessments (HAZOPs), especially when based on incomplete 2D as-builts, often generate more questions than answers.

Fortunately, innovative approaches to retrofits and debottlenecking combine 3D as-built tools with more concise decision-making to achieve break-through efficiency in investments.

ALARP (as low as reasonably practical) decision-making combines two concepts: reasonableness and practicability.  Unlike HAZOP approaches that have been developed to make selection of components during during design and greenfield developments, ALARP focuses on ageing assets where problems stem more from degradation and damage of components.  By distinguishing between unacceptable, tolerable and broadly acceptable levels of risk, ALARP avoids "boxing owners and operators into a corner" by providing a broader continuum of alternatives.

By combining ALARP with 3D imaging technology, owners are able to reduce the time-to-market for upgrading projects significantly.  3D as-builts and reverse-engineering, particularly across multiple facilities, allow owners to more systematically address potential deficiencies and rank mitigative alternatives.  ALARP results can be quickly converted to 3D prototype designs and cost estimates without requiring repeated site visits.  Subject matter experts and senior management can be brought in from around the world into "virtual" plant sites to vet the constructability and operability of proposed upgrades.  3D prototypes can be quickly converted to fabrication drawings and issued for construction quickly and efficiently.

It is estimated that the 3D-ALARP strategy can reduce project cost and duration by as much as 50%.  Equally important, the strategy allows asset managers to establish a more practical approach to assessing and managing risk across ageing assets.  Management of change documentation, critical for due diligence and insurance defense, is greatly enhanced.