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ONS 2014: Bentley white paper calls for inspection software to prevent catastrophic failure

26th August 2014

An effective structural integrity management program is the single most important barrier against catastrophic failure in complex industrial facilities, according to a white paper launched at ONS 2014 by Bentley

ONS 2014: Bentley white paper calls for integrity management software to prevent catastrophic failure
Inconsistency and lack of clarity is a barrier to common understanding, introducing risk and inefficiency

“Sadly, structural failures are still happening all too often, resulting in unplanned shutdowns, loss of production, financial impacts, loss of shareholder confidence and, sadly, even more tragic consequences,” said Mark Biagi, solution executive at Bentley, and author of the white paper. “Throughout the energy industries, as inherently dangerous assets get increasingly large and complex, operating in harsh and ecologically sensitive environments and aging assets’ lifespans are stretched and process conditions are being pushed to their limits, structural integrity envelopes are literally being stretched to their breaking point.”

The results of such failure litter the history of the industry.

The disaster at the RusHydro Sayano-Shushenskaya dam where extensive fatigue damage due to running a high-vibration process and missing bolts resulted in the deaths of 72 workers. The Chevron Richmond refinery where an integrity process failed to identify wall thinning in insulated pipework that resulted in 15,000 people being treated at hospital. And the San Bruno Pipeline where poor installation and testing resulted in pipes that are unable to cope with the operating pressure; eight people were killed and 38 homes were destroyed.

“For leading owner-operators, taking responsibility for their own integrity management is a top priority,” Biagi continued. “For example, Shell’s simple mission statement is, ‘Our assets are safe. We know it, and we can show it.’ This drives what is arguably the most sophisticated process safety and integrity management program of any operator in the world.

“However, many other operators take a different approach, preferring to rely on outsourcing to help keep their assets safe. Certainly, there are many contractors with a rich knowledge of corrosion mechanisms, inspection methods, and products. It is vitally important that the industry promotes competition in finding ever more effective and efficient inspection methods to support integrity management processes. The flip side, however, is that many specialist vendors that only have part of the  solution, along with their own esoteric home-grown software tools, can often introduce risks into the integrity management process.”

Conventional asset integrity management methods often involve multiple  organisations across distributed enterprises - in-house, contractors, technicians and specialists – working in disconnected workflows with a wide variety of disparate,  technical, esoteric, and non-graphical data sources in multiple specialist software systems that are relevant only to specific sub-asset types. This inconsistency and lack of clarity is a barrier to common understanding, introducing risk and inefficiency.

“Bentley’s approach is different,” Biagi said. “Dedicated to sustaining the world’s infrastructure,  Bentley applies sophisticated engineering information management strategies to  facilitate a consistent and auditable process of integrity management across  distributed enterprises and multiple asset types.”

The company is widely recognised as being the leading vendor of structural engineering design and analysis software with global brand names such as STAAD, RAM, SACS, MOSES, AutoPIPE, and many more. It is also a leader in software for structural integrity management, also sometimes referred to as mechanical integrity management, with major operators, including Shell, standardising on Bentley’s strategies for corrosion inspection management of their pressurised systems.

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