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Case Study: Improving Fixed Equipment Integrity and Reducing Inspection Costs for a Global Mining and Metals Operator

Learn how an RBI pilot helped a mining and metals operator improve fixed equipment integrity compliance and reduce inspection costs.

The Challenge

One of the world’s largest mining and metals organizations has a facility in the Western United States. This facility provides the materials necessary for cell phones, cars, computers, and other products of modern living.

This organization wanted to ensure its fixed equipment integrity program demonstrated compliance with industry codes, standards, and safe work practices, as well as an internal process safety standard. At the same time, the organization also wanted to improve operational performance. Specifically, leaders wanted to reduce integrity-related unplanned downtime events, optimize maintenance and inspection spend, and ensure the operating context is controlled and managed.

To meet compliance, the organization needed to understand all assets’ current health by performing damage-specific focused baseline inspections. To obtain this goal, the facility required documentation updates and for its Asset Performance Management (APM) platform to be up-to-date and fully functional. The work scope included fixed equipment and piping in the concentrator, smelter, refiner, tailings, and utilities.

Pinnacle's Solution

To help drive asset integrity, Pinnacle supported the organization with a Risk-Based Inspection (RBI) pilot and proof of concept. RBI is a proven methodology which prioritizes inspection activities that focus on the greatest areas of risk. By focusing on risk, RBI identifies the optimal times to perform inspections, in addition to what the inspector should be looking for and which methods will be the most effective. This strategic approach reduces loss of containment risk, increases safety, and optimizes spending. The following tasks were included in Pinnacle’s scope of work:

Objective: Improved Compliance

  • Update and organize all pressure vessels, tanks, relief devices, and piping equipment documentation and drawings.
  • Assess damage mechanisms (DM) for piping and equipment.
  • Create targeted inspection plans for fixed equipment assets needing to meet compliance.
  • Perform baseline inspections for outstanding critical equipment.
  • Set up Asset Integrity Program fundamentals and management systems for sustainability.

Objective: Improved Operational Performance

  • Enhance asset integrity decision-making by creating corrosion monitoring diagrams, identifying CML locations, and establishing key performance indicators (KPIs).
  • Implement a risk-based approach to optimize inspections based on equipment risk. This approach calculated risk values using both quantitative and customized Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA) SME-based approaches.
  • Implement special emphasis equipment management programs.
  • Link asset health and operational controls and systems.
  • Improve APM System.


By completing the asset integrity program build and implementing the RBI pilot, the organization is now set up to have a successful Mechanical Integrity (MI) program and now experiences the following benefits.

Fixed Equipment Integrity Program Foundations

Organized Assets
All pressure vessels, tanks, relief devices, and piping equipment are now organized and available to the appropriate parties for easy access, reducing time spent looking for information and risk of data being overlooked.
  • Master Asset List created and compared to asset hierarchy into the CMMS.
  • 280 assets added into the CMMS.
  • 1,058 P&IDs field walked, redlined, and updated in CAD to match field.
  • 60 assets added to drawings.
  • 1,900 piping circuits created.
  • P&IDs circuitized to create inspection plans.
Targeted Inspection Plans
After assessing damage mechanisms for piping circuits and equipment, the organization now has targeted inspection plans. These plans assure that the organization is looking for the right types of damage at the right times and with the appropriate methods.
  • 5,500+ Damage Mechanism assignments created.
  • Damage-mechanism driven inspection plans created and loaded into the GE APM IDMS platform.
  • 6,000+ inspection tasks created and defined in GE APM IDMS & scheduled through CMMS.
Baseline Inspections Complete
For outstanding critical equipment, Pinnacle drafted inspection isometrics and completed baseline inspections.
  • Condition Monitoring Locations (CML) specific to asset damage mechanisms selected and measured.
  • 1,200+ tanks, piping circuits, and vessel inspections (30% of all facility assets) were performed, resulting in over 600 recommendations that were loaded into GE APM IDMS, reviewed, and approved by Senior Asset Integrity Engineers at the facility.

Key Result

These recommendations included items such as corrosion mediation, insulation and leak repairs, and support maintenance that will result in an estimated $4.7MM in cost avoidance, with an estimated minimum of $14MM in savings by the end of the project.
Asset Integrity Program Fundamentals Set up for Sustainability
Pinnacle ensured the organization’s asset integrity program and management systems are set up for sustainability by:
  • Integrating Living Program workflows into Asset Integrity program to define data management, processes, decisions, and upkeep.
  • Implementing Inspection Data Management System (IDMS) / Asset Performance Management (APM) System and integrating a feedback loop with SAP.
  • Reviewing Asset Integrity Management System documents for consistency and best practices.
  • Creating a bill of material for pressure relief devices.

Operational Performance Improvements

Enhanced Asset Integrity Decision-Making
To improve asset integrity decision-making, Pinnacle created corrosion model diagrams, provided CML placement, and created reports with key performance indicator (KPI) tracking.
  • Corrosion Model Diagrams visualize systems and damage areas.
  • CML placement focuses on optimal coverage for local areas and NDE technology.
  • KPIs and reports which deliver insights into asset health and inspection program.
Special Emphasis Equipment Management Programs
The organization now has special emphasis equipment management programs in place.
  • Detailed inspection and maintenance planning for high consequence assets.
  • Optimized PRD testing strategies.
  • Asset Integrity systems include low-criticality and/or run-to-failure assets.
  • End-of-life strategies for aging equipment and high-wear components.
Linked Asset Health and Operational Controls and Systems
Asset health is now linked to operational controls and systems in the following ways:
  • Operational control strategy pilot, focused on Integrity Operating Windows (IOWs), Startup/Shutdown Concerns, and other Operations Limits.
  • Improved governance documents for craft training and contractor requirements.
Improved APM System
The APM System is now set up to:
  • Drive inspection work ticketing.
  • House risk mitigation strategies.
  • Contain inspection results.

Optimizing Inspections Based on Asset Risk

Through the pilot, the mining organization was able to see how RBI can help to effectively meet compliance and safety goals, while also optimizing inspection spend. With the RBI pilot, inspection strategies are now optimized for task timing and rigor. In addition, feedback loops are now in place to update risk based on inspection results.

When comparing the baseline inspections and time-based intervals to the baseline inspections and risk-based intervals, we found that risk-based inspection will save $101,000 across an 11-year period. This is a 36% reduction in total costs. When excluding the initial overdue nominal baselines (which do not change from traditional to RBI) upfront of $87,000, the difference in savings represents a savings of over 50% of inspection costs from years 2-11.

This RBI pilot was performed on only a selected sub-set of assets within the plant to represent a larger impact. It included 25 total vessels and 15 piping circuits, which makes up approximately 2% of the total plant’s asset base.

Key Result

If these savings demonstrate a typical representation of potential inspection savings due to a risk-based approach, it will extrapolate to approximately $7MM across the facility. The pilot has also resulted in a reduction of 68,000 cumulative field inspection man hours across a 10-year period, increasing safety for the site.


Now that the asset integrity program implementation is complete, the organization’s next step is to scale the RBI program to the rest of the site. After that, the organization can take a further step to evolve its program by implementing a data-drive model, such as Quantitative Reliability Optimization (QRO). QRO is a dynamic, hybrid analysis model that synthesizes and expands upon the best elements of existing reliability models for both fixed and non-fixed assets. QRO uses new data science and analytical concepts to forecast and strategically balance facility availability, improve process safety, and optimize operations and maintenance spending.

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