items that all need relating to each other. Achieving
this in a manageable way has proved difficult and,
consequently, off-putting. Secondly, to adopt an RBI
approach for FOIs means questioning tradition and,
in particular, perceived regulatory requirements.
Mindsets need to change. Ultimately, both time- and
risk-based inspection approaches share the same
goal, ensuring that offshore units remain within the
defined limit state. Another important point is that,
hull aside, FOIs are not ships and not subject to
the same type of marine regulation. There is scope
worth exploring. More recently, class societies
have recognized the need to offer an alternative to
time-based survey regimes and have been looking
to introduce risk-based answers.
Class sur veys at set periods defeat the purpose of
an RBI approach. To overcome the disparity between
the two regimes, greater understanding is called for
across the industry. Class societies need to appreciate what FOI operators require and, conversely, FOI operators have to be clear on what
classification achieves. Over an 18-month period, Lloyd’s Register has
been tackling this matter with a joint team, bringing together expertise
from two separate sides of the organization: Asset Integrity and Marine & Offshore. The key has been to understand how classification,
verification, and integrity fit together; an exercise in pinpointing the
differences between integrity management and classification schemes
to arrive at a new service and solution.
Lloyd’s Register is already under contract for two RBI-FOI projects,
the first of their kind in the industr y. There are some key points worth
sharing. A single approach to integrity management and class can
be applied at any asset stage. It is currently supporting a newbuild
project and an existing unit. Both assets are at fixed locations and the
approach is scalable, allowing full or partial RBI implementation. An
RBI approach can be adopted for recognized areas of risk only, such
as cargo tanks, the topsides that fall out of class or to test unknown
costs, for example. Operators of FOIs can try an RBI approach if they
are happy with a prescriptive regime for a certain
amount of their asset. Or operators can adopt RBI
for their entire floating offshore assets.
Critically, FOI operators adopting an RBI plan
must adhere to it strictly; late inspection or survey is more likely to lead to class suspension as
the plan is now configured for the owner. The
roles and competencies of all involved must be
clearly defined from the outset. It should also be
noted that implementation of an RBI approach is
at the discretion of the regulator, who will also
determine the extent to which the scheme can
be applied. Clarity on this point is key early on.
Informing design onwards
An RBI approach has yet to make a major impact
on the design of offshore assets, although progress
in this area is happening. Lloyd’s Register has seen
the requirement for design-based RBI studies grow
in the last few years, an encouraging sign. On the
whole, however, RBI is still regarded as a program
to consider part way through an asset’s life, despite
experts advocating that earlier is better.
Having been involved in RBI at the FEED stage for
several projects, the advantages of early adoption
are clear – implementing RBI early means that the
program is tailored to the specific asset. Risk-based
design can help build a more robust structure
because input comes not just from an EPC and the
owner-operator. Experts in operations and integrity
management also contribute. These specialists are
familiar with the temperature and pressure spikes
an asset can face in service, as well as other dam-
age mechanisms and key considerations. With this
knowledge, RBI can identify areas that can be easily
redesigned to create a more reliable unit, with less
inspection and inter vention at the operational stage.
Parts of an asset that are prone to fatigue can be
afforded greater design attention. Materials can
be upgraded accordingly. For FOI hull structures,
designers can address common degradation and
deterioration mechanisms, such as coating failure,
general and localized corrosion, fatigue overloading, and wastage of
the positional mooring system. A design-based RBI study may also help
decrease build costs, avoiding an over-specification in places or the
unnecessary inclusion of corrosion probes or monitoring equipment.
With RBI front of mind from the outset, offshore assets can be
designed to minimize the involvement of personnel. This can be as
simple as creating the right access points for non-intrusive inspection methods, such as using a camera on a pole. Design tweaks such
as these reduce an organization’s safety exposure, labor costs, and
potential for human error.
Design is the beginning for RBI. The approach should continue during
construction. There will always be anomalies in this phase that might
introduce engineering weaknesses. Stress built into the structure is just
one example. Outcomes from the construction phase are an additional
layer to model for the most effective RBI programs.
An RBI approach is designed to deliver ever greater efficiencies
and safety enhancements the longer it is employed.
Process, personnel, and technology must all come
together to deliver the most robust RBI program,
and realize the full benefits.
There are two main challenges in ensuring RBI
is a sustainable success. Change of company personnel is proving to be a real stumbling block,
especially given the trend for staff to move around
the industry every three to five years. Experience
and the drive for an RBI program can leave the
organization with former employees who were
involved in the scheme’s implementation and its
day-to-day delivery. Considering the endeavour
to establish the program and potential loses, this
needs to be carefully watched.
Maximizing value from key metrics and data
is also fundamental. This is a key reason behind
Lloyd’s Register’s development of Axxim. The
third-party software directly embeds into an orga-
nization’s existing enterprise asset management
application and incorporates decision-making tech-
niques, encompassing RBI, reliability centered
maintenance, root cause analysis and failure mode
and effects analysis.
Today, clients are gaining the efficiencies of RBI
in as short a timeframe as six months, covering the
cost of establishing the program quicker than was
previously possible. •
Client survey conducted at the Lloyd’s
Register Energy business breakfast
The Axxim software directly embeds into an
existing enterprise asset management application
and incorporates decision-making techniques.