Anyone who manages a major oil and gas facility knows that reliability programs are widely used to streamline and reduce maintenance costs; improve efficiency and process availability; and extend the useful life of system processes. But, first thing’s first. To achieve success, you must first have solid fundamentals in place.

While many facilities leverage various programs and tools to manage their programs, from a zoomed-out level, there still remain opportunities for improving their reliability programs. These opportunities include: training your resources, keeping up with technology, and focusing on communication.

1. Train Your Resources

One of the biggest opportunities, whether within a mature program or a new program—is training of resources to become more effective. Well-trained personnel are equipped to operate safer and more efficiently. They provide significant value because they are able to assess and manage the reliability aspects of equipment and systems. On the other hand, inexperienced and improperly trained personnel typically struggle to manage plant performance. Loss of asset reliability, due to gaps in leadership support, technology utilization, and employee competency, typically leads to significant economic, safety, and environmental consequences.

If your facility does not provide training programs requiring personnel to thoroughly understand all aspects of the equipment to which they are assigned, the chemistry behind what they are doing, and the impact of external forces on the facility’s processes, you are far more likely to fail at optimizing and maximizing efficiency, and overall performance of your plant will be negatively impacted.

Reliability is largely a human responsibility and leveraging the human performance side of reliability with thorough training programs allows your plant personnel to become more effective at task execution and more knowledgeable of the impact executing those tasks has on your reliability programs.  Effective training helps to eliminate blind following of tasks on a plan and gives personnel the knowledge they need to call out or question what the plan is telling them to do if the situation warrants it.

2. Keep Up with Technology

Adopting state-of-the art technologies can play an integral role in improving reliability programs, which in turn leads to improved productivity and efficiency at plant level. Various technologies are shaping the future of the oil and gas industry, such as advancements in detection technologies, Condition Monitoring Location (CML) optimization, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT).

It’s becoming increasingly apparent that refining facilities will need to depend on new technologies, like advanced data analytics and predictive reasoning, moving forward in order to compete in an industry where the need to make quick decisions across huge data sets is paramount. Keeping up with technology and using it in your favor helps to make sure that your reliability programs continue to keep your assets reliable in an ever-changing technological world.

3. Focus on Communication

Communication is fundamental. If good communication exists among departments, it becomes much easier for personnel to understand their role in a specific program. Even so, it is not uncommon for interaction between departments to be strained due to differing primary goals. For example, the primary goal of Operations is to meet production requirements; whereas, the primary goal of Maintenance is to maintain equipment health. Effective communication aids in the development of shared goals between departments and makes it easier to work together to improve reliability and meet core business objectives.

Likewise, communication is also critical to successful program implementation. If communication breaks down after implementation, processes that were put in place won’t be executed and everything can fall apart. That’s why it is important to have a solid Management of Change Program (MOC) in place. MOC often seems deceptively simple in concept, but a well-documented MOC is a very effective way to communicate process changes between departments and ensure a seamless transition when new programs are implemented.

All things considered, incorporating solid fundamentals into your programs—like regular training, improved technology, and solid communication between departments—is a great way to make sure that your programs are built on a solid foundation.

*Blog content is based on David Pardo’s experience from the field as Pinnacle’s Inspection Services Director. Click here to watch David talk more about the topic:

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