Learn how we helped a global mining and agricultural chemical leader improve their asset integrity systems following a major safety incident through risk-based inspection.

Challenge

A global mining and agricultural chemical leader needed to improve asset integrity systems following a major safety incident.

Solution

Pinnacle supported the organization by performing integrity assessments and implementing a Mechanical Integrity (MI) program across multiple facilities, leveraging Risk-Based Inspection (RBI) methodology.

Result

The organization now has a consistent system across all facilities, which provides improved safety and asset integrity, in addition to optimized inspection costs.

The Challenge

One of the world’s leading phosphate and potash miners has multiple mining facilities and agricultural fertilizer chemical facilities across both North and South America. Following a major safety incident at one of the facilities, the organization needed to improve safety and asset integrity across all major processing facilities in the United States, Canada, and South America. Specifically, the organization wanted to prevent future safety and reliability-related incidents while ensuring optimal inspection costs for its wide variety of risks. To do this, the organization’s management team identified the need to close mechanical integrity gaps at each site and move each location’s integrity program into one uniform application for consistent standards across the organization.

Pinnacle’s Solution

The mining organization sought to implement best practices and advanced MI approaches, many of which were not widely applied within the mining industry at that time. As a result, they sought to implement relevant and appropriate processes, standards, and tools leveraged by the oil and gas industry, which are known leaders in inspection, maintenance, and data management. Through this approach, and with Pinnacle’s support, the company sought a best-in-class approach, regardless of its specific product line or industry.

Pinnacle supported the organization by rolling out a robust risk-based MI program across fifteen of the company’s North and South American mining and chemical facilities, accomplished via solutions identified through MI assessments. This solution took place over the course of four years and was executed in four phases.

  1. Assess Current State and Plan Future
  2. Collaborate and Develop Proofs of Concept at Pilot Facilities
  3. Implement MI Program Across the Organization
  4. Provide Ongoing Stewardship

Phase I: Assess Current State and Plan Future

The immediate need of the organization was to complete MI assessments at each location. Pinnacle developed an assessment technique that would ensure the following:

  • Scope and Application: The assessment had to explore all reliability-related subjects and relate those subjects back to the client for subsequent action.
  • Full Data Extraction: The assessment had to extract all relevant data, including hardcopy reports, electronic systems, and feedback from personnel.
  • Repeatability: To perform a multitude of assessments in such a short timeframe, the assessment had to produce objective, accurate, and precise results—regardless of the assessing personnel.

 

After receiving training for the assessment methodology, each of the site assessment teams were simultaneously deployed. One week later, all the teams returned with their assessment results and the results were then collated into a comprehensive report and presented to the client’s management team. Upon review of the report, a strategic plan to close gaps as quickly and as cost-effective as possible was developed.

Phase II: Implement Proofs of Concept at Pilot Facilities

Following the assessments, Pinnacle worked with the organization to implement an MI program, starting with a pilot implementation at a chemical plant and a pilot implementation at a mining site. In both pilots, Pinnacle implemented a Risk-Based Inspection (RBI) based program. RBI is a proven methodology among refineries. This approach prioritizes inspection activities that focus on the greatest areas of risk. RBI also identifies when to perform inspections and which methods will be the most effective. This approach reduces unplanned asset failure and reduces loss of containment risk, which as a result, increases safety.

For the chemical plants, Pinnacle implemented a relatively traditional RBI program, which evaluated the plant’s corrosion mechanisms, consequences of failure due to both hazardous chemical releases and loss of production, and traditional inspection planning and NDE applications. Included with each pilot implementation, Pinnacle provided the following deliverables:

  • Document scanning, data digitization, and electronic document library development
  • Piping P&ID circuitization to group for inspection purposes
  • Corrosion model for expected damage mechanisms and their susceptibility per asset
  • CAD Inspection Isometric Drawings for fixed equipment, piping, and structures
  • Condition Monitoring Location (CML) placement on drawings
  • Population of critical integrity and RBI information into an integrity database tool (PCMS)
  • Calculation of risk and development of risk-based inspection strategies per asset

 

Since mining facilities use different types of assets, Pinnacle implemented a nontraditional RBI approach for the mining and structural assets at the mining locations. Some of the unique mining-specific challenges including developing bespoke degradation modeling for erosion mechanisms from various ore compositions, integration of wear-based liner components into failure analysis and inspection intervals, challenging traditional consequence models which did not consider large liquid slurry volume inventory releases to be dangerous, and a special emphasis on managing non-metallic components. These mining-specific adjustments to traditional risk analysis and planning helped to drive a value-adding program for each site and helped to balance inspection focus between mining and chemical sites.

Pinnacle also implemented a unique, qualitative RBI methodology for structural integrity, including steel frame support systems and foundational concrete which identified failure modes, impacts of those failures, and outlined risk-based tasks appropriate for each. As a result, the sites were able to integrate the inspection and maintenance for structural risks in tandem with process-containing equipment.

As an output of these pilot implementations, Risk-Based Inspection philosophy was integrated into the way the facilities plan, execute, and manage their work process and overall risk levels by leveraging updated procedures, standards, roles, and key performance indicators (KPIs). The procedures and processes developed during the pilot would lay a foundation upon which to build and roll-out globally.

Phase III: Implement MI Program Across the Organization and Provide Ongoing Stewardship

After successful pilot implementations, Pinnacle moved forward with implementing the traditional and nontraditional RBI-based program for the remaining mining facilities and chemical plants, expanding the scope, services, and deliverables provided in the pilot implementations. As additional facilities were included in the program, Pinnacle worked as one collective team to ensure the unique challenges each facility faced would be addressed while fitting within the global framework of the corporate implementation. This step also included updating pilot phase processes and deliverables as a result of lessons learned. The teams were able to work together to implement the MI program at more than half a dozen facilities in parallel for each given phase of work, with specialist personnel moving from site to site in a cascading fashion to ensure consistent leadership and technical experts were involved across all projects over as short a time as possible.

The Pinnacle team worked through more than a dozen post-pilot facilities, implementing well over fifteen thousand fixed equipment assets and associated piping circuits over the course of the following three years. Pinnacle was able to provide an organization-wide RBI based implementation using its horsepower and systematic approach, resulting in consistency across multiple facilities and fast time-to-value.

Phase IV: Provide Ongoing Stewardship

Additionally, the Pinnacle team maintained partnerships with critical facility representatives, which helped create successful program implementations. Pinnacle also ensured the organization was prepared for ongoing MI program success by delivering thorough training, handover support, and evergreening of key data systems after initial handoff. Pinnacle helped the organization transition into full ownership of the by providing extensive training to the core MI/Reliability and support teams, rolling out corporate processes and standards, and collaborating and reporting on program successes and future risks.

After these steps were completed, core staff members took on full ownership of all ongoing elements with Pinnacle supporting new site expansion projects. The adoption and stewardship of RBI systems by the company’s leadership has been critical to ensuring the program’s successes and risk management.

Results

By implementing the RBI-based MI program across more than fifteen North and South American facilities, the mining organization has achieved important benefits, including improved safety and asset integrity, a consistent system across all facilities, and optimized inspection costs. The program was implemented more than 10 years ago, and in that time, the organization has been able to make better decisions at the corporate level, reduce inspection budget overall and ensure no major failures or safety-related incidents.

Improved Safety and Asset Integrity

The MI program implemented across the facilities ensure risk is effectively managed and asset integrity is maintained. Higher levels of asset integrity mean fewer asset failures and increased levels of safety.

Consistent System Across All Facilities

With one consistent system, the organization now has the capability to track and trend key performance indicators (KPIs), asset health, and inspections across all the North and South American facilitates. This system makes it much easier to quickly gain insights into the reliability and safety at each location to help make informed decisions about goals and strategic investments.

Optimized Inspection Spending

Though the MI program implementation required an upfront increase in spending, the program has delivered long-term reduction in inspection costs. This cost reduction was achieved through a decrease in unplanned downtime and an increase in asset availability. There was an initial increase in inspection costs during the first two years and during the first major shutdown after implementation. The shutdown occurred so that the facilities could collect baseline readings on never-before measured equipment, as well as investigate previously unchecked damage mechanisms. However, this upfront investment returned greater confidence in limiting future inspections, a point of reference for equipment health across the fleet, and even a few inspection saves.

Compliance with Best Practices and Industry Regulations

With the MI program in place, the organization is demonstrating its commitment to strong safety practices via compliance with good engineering practices and regulatory codes.

Conclusion

Through the implementation of robust MI program, the company is now seeing major improvements across its North and South American facilities. While the MI implementations have created more effective inspection management, they have also greatly enhanced safety—helping the mining organization meet its ultimate goal of operating safely.

The company’s asset management program now focuses its conversations, reliability goals, strategic decisions, and approach to integrity with these systems and tools as a cornerstone of its culture. One the organization is still receiving value from RBI; they continue to expand and enhance data, tools, and systems, without changing its core components or philosophy from the initial implementation. This is a testament to how a strong program can be a foundation for long-term success.

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