Optimizing Asset Integrity Audits

An essential part of any asset integrity program is an audit to collect information about the assets that are physically installed in the plant.

It is often difficult to find the people with the skills required to carry out an asset audit, and it is costly to have these people on-site – especially for offshore and other remote locations.

Solutions that allow more efficient information collection and on-line collaboration with experts lower the skills required for the audit and allow audits to be completed in a shorter time, resulting in higher quality and lower costs.

Differentiation from competitors

Contractors play an important role in the Oil & Gas and Mining industries, but it is an extremely competitive business. Successful Contractors are the ones delivering their Operators better outcomes at the best possible prices. On the one hand Contractors have the pressure to deliver better outcomes at ever lower prices, but on the other hand have to achieve these goals whilst protecting their own margins in order to grow a sustainable business. Contractors that don’t evolve their methodologies to achieve these objectives will generally struggle to differentiate themselves from their competitors and win profitable business from their Operators.

For Contractors involved in asset integrity improvement programs one of the largest components of that effort involves field audit to collect the data required to verify what is physically installed and to capture the right information that will support on-going reliability analysis. The ISO14224 standard defines these collection requirements to support reliability and I’ll touch on that in subsequent posts.

The field audit for an asset integrity program involves assembling a team that has the skills to recognize all of the assets that have been assigned to them and then be able to collect the right information about those assets to comply with asset information requirements. People with this breadth of asset knowledge are not only rare, but also expensive.

Once the audit team has been assembled we have to get them to the assets. In a lot of cases, particularly off-shore installations, this can be an even bigger challenge than putting the team together. It might involve very long barge trips, or helicopter flights, that have to be scheduled within the constraints of production requirements and accommodation availability. Not to mention that the facility itself is hazardous and highly regulated requiring certification to just be on site. It is expensive and difficult to schedule so we need to be minimizing the time that people need to be on site to achieve the best outcomes at the lowest price.

Contractors involved in asset integrity audits that can successfully utilize more broad skill sets with a shorter amount of on-site time will differentiate themselves from their competitors and deliver better outcomes for their operators and more profitably for themselves.

“ORDITAL provides the Social Network to enable the Connected Audit”

The Connected Audit

Field audits, particularly in Oil & Gas, have long relied on off-line manual methods such as paper check lists or spreadsheets and digital cameras. These methods are cumbersome, require double handling of information and are not connected with the rest of the organization. There are a variety of reasons for this, not least of which is the expense that has been involved in equipping field auditors with intrinsically safe devices which can be permitted into hazardous areas. These devices are generally upwards of $5,000 each. However, in recent times intrinsically safe cases can turn a standard iPhone or Android smart phone into an intrinsically safe device for about 10% of the price of a dedicated device. This opens up a lot of opportunities to take a new look at the way information is collected in field audits. Giving auditors the tools they need on a platform they are already familiar with opens doors to increased productivity.

However, just giving auditors tools on cost effective platforms that they already know and enjoy is good, but by itself it is not going to deliver a step change in performance. The ability to collect information off-line when no network is available is important, but the number of locations without network access is shrinking fast. This means it is now possible for audits to be a real time collaborative process between field auditors and equipment specialists who support the audit projects in real time from off-site. We call this the Connected Audit.

The Connected Audit creates a Social Network where field auditors and equipment specialists are connected in real time in the context of the asset. The equipment specialists can support teams of field auditors, ensuring that they are correctly identifying and classifying assets and collecting the correct information about the assets. The equipment specialists can also confirm that photos and geo-locations of assets are of the correct quality. And all of this can be done in real time whilst field auditors are with the asset so that the cost to ask for more, or better, information is negligible.

The Connected Audit decreases reliance on equipment specialists in the field and reduces the need for field auditors to have return visits to collect missing information. The Connected Audit delivers savings and a better outcome for all parties.

Stephen Crampton