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How better information drives safety

Thursday, July 2, 2015

If you want good process safety and asset integrity management, you need good information management. Intergraph's Adrian Park explained how to do it

All oil and gas industry process safety and asset integrity standards have a number of processes that rely on high quality lifecycle asset information, which needs to be complete, correct, consistent, available and secure,' said Adrian Park, Vice President for SmartPlant Enterprise Solutions with Intergraph, speaking at the Digital Energy Journal Stavanger forum on May 5, 'Having a Better Understanding of Asset Integrity.'

'Asset information, sometimes called the 'virtual asset', is a key enabler for implementing process safety and asset integrity programs,' he said.

'Asset lifecycle information is very important for the key goals that any owner / operator has.'

'All operators have pretty much the same goals: aiming to reduce capex investments, reduce opex, ensure projects are delivered quickly, plants operate reliably, reduce health and safety risk and demonstrate compliance to regulatory authorities,' he said.

'Work processes to manage information is just the starting point,' he said. 'If you have high quality information you can leverage that to get extra benefit, for projects, operations and maintenance.'

'We did a survey last year among information management professionals and asked people, why do you need trustworthy information, where is it critical?' he said.

'The highest requirements for trustworthy information were for modifications, revamps and maintenance. This was followed by process safety and asset integrity, followed by turnarounds and shutdowns.

'Respondents were also asked, 'If you had an emergency situation on the facility, how confident are you that the appropriate people would be able to access the information quickly.' Only 39 per cent said that they were completely confident,' Mr Park said. 'That did come as a surprise. We didn't expect it to be quite so poor.'

'It prompted us to send out a second survey last year. We wanted to ask our customers, 'how confident are you that you can find the information you need?' 88 per cent of our customers said they are very confident,' Mr Park said.

Assessing your data management

Intergraph was invited to help a customer in South East Asia to assess the need of a new asset integrity system after having a few very serious incidents,' Mr Park said.

'The company asked us, 'We understand that asset information is an important part of the system, and how are we doing?'' he said.

Intergraph put together a 'maturity model', to enable the company to be assessed on how good it is at managing various aspects of data, such as capability building, management of change, information accessibility, information sustainability, data integrity, document integrity, standardisation and governance.

So for example for document integrity, the questions could be 'where are your documents? Are they all in an archive? How many copies of documents do you have? 'If I ask someone where the documents are and he opens his desk draw, that tells me a lot,' he said.

The answers are gathered by sitting with someone going through a questionnaire. 'We spent one week on this study and did 30 interviews in that week,' he said. 'It is actually a fairly rapid process to assess quickly where the pain points are.'

The company scored between 1.4 and 1.8 out of a maximum 5 points, for each factor.

Roughly speaking, level 0 to 1 would be 'chaos or reactive', level 1 to 2'organized', level 2 to 3 'Controlled', leading up to level 4 to 5 'Asset Lifecycle Excellence'.

'It is an empirical process, you're looking at what they have, saying they're pretty good at this, they're not good at that. There's no level of exactitude here.'

But the process clearly identified significant gaps, he said. 'This process makes it easier to work out how you need to improve. Once we have identified the gaps we can identify a phased roadmap to close those gaps and bring asset lifecycle information management up to an acceptable level to support process safety and asset integrity processes. Many people know they have an issue with lifecycle information but the problem seems insurmountable. They ignore it because it's too big a problem to solve.'

The advantage of a process like this is that people have something very concrete they can take to a board meeting and ask for a budget. 'People on the board want to see numbers, if they don't see numbers they won't buy.'

Good information

'Most plants do not have quality structured information,' he said.

In the recent survey, Intergraph asked facility owners how much of their information is structured. The answer was that typically about 40 per cent of information is unstructured, including paper documents, word files, CAD drawings and pdf files.

In order to make good systems, 'you need high quality information as a starting point,' he said.

This could be an accurate piping and instrumentation diagram (P+ID). You can use laser scanning and capture an image of the existing facility as it currently is. You can also use software tools which can go through unstructured information and drawings and pull out intelligence.

However, 'if you go to 99 per cent of existing facilities you're likely to be faced with paper archives or file shares with stored documents..

There are various ways of getting your data into a structured system.

Intergraph has a technology which works like a web crawler and can find and capture all the documents in your network drives.

Also there are tools to automatically find the master version of a document, if you have ended up with multiple different versions of it.

'That gets you to the first base - you can find documentation fairly easily. The next stage is we need to extract the intelligence.

There are automated ways to get data from unstructured documents, such as optical character recognition (OCR)and hotspotting, he said.

Validating data

Once the data is structured, the next stage is to validate it (check it is correct). 'You should be testing the data against a whole range of validations,' he said.

'In the early stage of the project it can be validated against a limited set of rules. As we get further the rule set will expand,' he said.

'We have a customer who did this significant project recently. They found 93,000 errors in the tag registers. That was not the first time they had received information from the contractor, so the data from the past years was probably of a similar quality.'

But since then, they've been able to critically look at what was delivered against what they asked for. That's the first time they've been able to do that.'


Every operator in the world has similar work processes for both managing lifecycle data and operating and maintaining the facility.

'Our approach to this is to provide preconfigured work processes that are tightly integrated with each other and the underlying asset lifecycle information, rather than have discrete processes and systems,' he said.

Asset lifecycle information can be then used in the context of process safety and asset integrity processes, he said.

Other systems

'Owner operators have many IT systems,' he said. 'When we start talking to people, they say, 'how does this asset information lifecycle management fit with other systems we already have?''

All these systems 'are all basically consumers of asset lifecycle information,' he said. 'They need asset information or they don't' work.'

'The way we see it, these systems are pretty much today largely operating in a silo type environment.'

'We see ourselves as an enhancer, we deliver [data] to all these other systems to keep them up to date.'

'If you are trying to deliver to an asset integrity standard, the information between those systems has to be consistent. If it isn't, you're not implementing that standard properly.'

You also need to make sure your other software systems have information which is consistent with your engineering design software. For example, companies typically use a range of systems to manage maintenance, inspection, asset performance, work permits etc..

Ensuring all these systems contain complete, correct and consistent information is important to maximize efficiency and reduce risks for operations and maintenance activities,' he said.

About Intergraph

Intergraph supplies enterprise engineering software to help design, construction and operations of plants, ships, and offshore facilities.

The company is headquartered in Alabama (USA), and has about 2,500 employees, of which around 1,000 work in research and development.

The company is owned by Hexagon of Sweden, a company specialising in industrial IT systems.

The talk was about how to use lifecycle asset information to help implement process safety and asset integrity programs.

'What we deliver as a company can help people manage process safety,' he said. But 'we don't say, buy our software and your problems are solved. Our area of expertise is software delivery to support engineering design, project execution and facility operations processes provding a platform for process safety and asset integrity'.

Watch Mr Park's talk and download videos at

Associated Companies
» Intergraph
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