Risk Based Inspection: What To Expect

Do you know how to prepare for implementing an RBI program? Here is a perspective from an owner who has been managing an RBI best practice for close to 10 years.

RBI What to Expect

How do we as asset performance management consultants measure success? What are our KPIs?

Repeat business is a good measuring stick. Great reputation in those industries served is also a way to measure success. But perhaps the greatest way to measure success is to listen to those we have served and to listen to the advice they now give others.

The following email correspondence is between a bourgeoning risk analyst and a colleague. He was trying to understand what he was in for regarding his upcoming RBI project roll out and to ensure his ability to transform his organization to an enhanced safety and performance culture, which is crucial to becoming an effective, compliant and reliable operation.

Take a look at their dialogue

... as Ed explained, I am in the early stages of this effort, so I am very interested in learning from the experiences of others in similar positions outside my organization that have been down this road before. If you wouldn't mind discussing the subject with me, please let me know a good time to give you a call. Or, if you are attending the AFPM conference next week and have a free moment, perhaps we could meet in person to discuss at your convenience. Just let me know your preference. Thanks in advance for your help and I look forward to discussing further with you.

His Colleague's Response

Sorry it took me a while to respond, but things have been crazy busy here for the past few weeks.

Unfortunately I will not be attending the AFPM conference, so email will have to do for now.

Contrary to what Ed might believe, I do not have a standard answer when speaking with someone who is in the beginning stages of an RBI program, so I will just pass along to you things I wish someone had told me when I was beginning this undertaking.

First I will commend you and your management team for choosing to undertake an RBI program. To me it is SO logical and makes so much sense that I am surprised the methodology took as long to become formalized as it did. I wholeheartedly believe in the RBI methodology.

One of the first things I would recommend - if you do not already own the API RPs (580 and 581) - get them and start reading! In fact, I would recommend getting several copies of API 580 and distribute to the people that will be your key team members (and you will find the definitions of key team members in Chapter 16). And also your managers!!! It is imperative that they have some basic knowledge of what RBI is, what it is not, and sort of what to expect from the program.

One thing we engineers like to do is manipulate data and crunch numbers, but it is also very important for everyone to realize that this is not (nor is it intended to be) an exact science. Even though one of the great benefits of RBI is establishing risk priorities and risk rankings on an equipment level, it has to be stressed that these are relative risk rankings.

It would be incredibly beneficial if you have some sort of procedure in place that establishes at least some minimum guidelines/requirements for the program before you begin. This is one area where Ed's company would be extremely helpful. I have worked closely with everyone at AOC and can attest to their experience and expertise.

I would also highly recommend that the RBI team members obtain at least some basic training (with the team leader perhaps getting more than basic training) before you actually begin implementation efforts. We did not do this at my plant and we were at the complete mercy of the vendor in making all of our decisions for us in the beginning because we truly did not understand the software or the RBI methodology enough to make informed decisions. It is also extremely beneficial for some of the supervisors/management team to have some high-level training so that they will have an idea of what to expect from the program once it matures, and also be aware of what the results might look like when initial criticalities are run. I say this because no matter how much care you put into the implementation phase, there will be some "surprises" when the initial results are determined.

Operations/process design engineers/maintenance personnel/inspectors/corrosion specialists - they are VITAL team members and their participation is mandatory! Much of their time will be required (they may as well hear that up front, and get their supervisors to agree to make them available), and none of it will be wasted in the long run. This will go a long, long way in reducing the previously mentioned "surprises" found in the initial criticality runs.

It is imperative that your company/management team define and establish what their risk tolerance (acceptable risk level) is before you begin RBI. You would not believe how long that took to happen with my company - partly because no-one (including me) really knew how important it is, no-one wanted to take on that responsibility, and/or everyone was of the opinion that it was not their responsibility to make that decision.

I would suggest that you at least expose operators to the basic concepts of RBI and what the program will do and will not do, etc. If not, they may become suspicious of the entire program when you begin extending intervals between inspection, decreasing intervals between inspections, doing external inspections and NDE in lieu of some internals, etc. All perfectly legal and legitimate possibilities, but out of the norm of what they are used to. Knowledge is power!!!

If your plant is anything like mine, you will have to constantly and continuously remind people that RBI is just a tool (albeit a very useful and powerful tool if used correctly), and will never replace the good judgement of an inspector or an engineer. In fact, I constantly remind my inspectors that they absolutely not only have the right, but they have the obligation, to shorten any interval or add any inspection method that they choose to do based on their knowledge and/or experience with their units and their equipment.

The goal is not to extend turnaround intervals or to "not" do inspections, but rather to focus your time, your efforts, your expertise, and your inspection dollars (after all, that is not unlimited is it?) to where they matter the most - both for equipment safety and for reliability.

Hope this helps! Feel free to contact me any time if you have any questions.

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