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Small changes can mean big improvements in reliability and integrity

Andrew Garvie, equipment and integrity team leader, examines how to make the most of existing infrastructure with a focus on life extension.

With the global downturn in the oil and gas industry affecting most, if not all, operators, it is crucial we understand the most effective ways to set maintenance strategies, their implementation and how feedback could be used with a view to short, medium and long-term financial savings.

An example relevant to this is planned maintenance on cranes aboard platforms with more than one crane.

Some operators see having two cranes as built-in spare capacity so might be keen to defer maintenance on the main crane. This is understandable but you might not be able to use the second crane as easily if the main one breaks down and we are finding that there is a big appetite to explore the alternatives.

Typically, planned maintenance will be similar on each crane but this does not have to be the case. We can look at usage rates and tailor the maintenance accordingly. The strategy should evolve to take equipment age into consideration. There is a drive to make savings with a particular focus on waste and condition monitoring can help with that.

We promote a Plan, Do, Check, Act programme that promotes paying greater attention to the results of maintenance checks. Whether it is new-build, mid or late-life, a full and effective maintenance plan that covers all aspects and, crucially, acts upon information, readings and observations is key.

The biggest thing we have found across assets was those setting the strategy weren’t always communicating with those working on the inspection. The strategies were being set out but the information being recorded either wasn’t being fed back or wasn’t being acted upon.

We are saying there should be more emphasis paid to information that has been taken and digging into the trend, thinking about why the readings are the way they are. It should be more than just a tick box exercise.

There has always been a good buy-in from a safety point of view but now there is more emphasis on maintaining operations with a drive to make savings, focusing on reducing waste.

An example of an easy way to cut costs is when you know in advance that maintenance work is being carried out. This gives the opportunity to have things like scaffolding ready before the work teams arrive rather than having them sitting on the platform for a couple of days waiting for the green light to go.

Even in a mid-life cycle, we can improve maintenance if we go back a step and look at things slightly differently. Such as, having an effective holding plan for spare equipment that focuses on rotation to ensure parts are in the correct condition for use when required.

Reliability and, ultimately, profitability requires a robust maintenance and inspection regime.

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