Petrotechnics http://www.petrotechnics.com Improving Production Efficiency & Lowering Operational Risk Wed, 03 Feb 2016 15:17:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.4.2 Breaking the back of overwhelming maintenance http://www.petrotechnics.com/news-and-media/media-coverage/breaking-the-back-of-overwhelming-maintenance Wed, 03 Feb 2016 15:15:24 +0000 http://www.petrotechnics.com/?p=4394

Petrotechnics’ Neil Singh explains in this month’s Railway Strategies magazine how the big-picture view can help improve the safety-productivity dynamic.

 

Behind the operation of any rail network are two essential, but often contradictory priorities: productivity and safety. Ensuring one, without compromising the other, is a constant challenge, particularly in an organisation as complex as a rail network.

 

Most rail networks represent huge national investments of time, money and effort. They appear straight-forward to commuters waiting for the 8.15 to Paddington, but are in fact highly complex. They are not just a collection of track, signaling, trains, power and people. Trains get from A to B thanks to the daily interactions between them all. It is these interactions that dictate how the network runs. They also make the rail network an extremely dynamic operation, with an almost infinite number of variables – all of which have the potential to affect safety and productivity.

 

The point at which the tension between productivity and safety is most keenly felt is maintenance. Given the demands on the rail network, and the growing volume of passenger and freight activity that it must support, the pressure of finding the balance is increasing. On the one hand, there is pressure to complete more and more rail maintenance work within very tight timeframes with limited resources. On the other, the task, location and infrastructure must be properly assessed to ensure that these maintenance jobs themselves does not cause harm to people, the environment or the infrastructure.

 

There are any number of ways in which a seemingly insignificant error, like a piece of equipment left track-side, or an unexpected event such as a hidden wasps’ nest in an overhanging tree, can escalate into a major problem. Seemingly inconsequential operational events, activities and decisions have an immediate impact on maintenance schedules but can also roll up into something substantially larger. Like the hurricane caused by a butterfly flapping its wings, some of the biggest headaches on the railways can have some of the simplest and unexpected causes.

 

Equally, commercial reality puts significant pressure to get more work completed in a shorter time frame. Rail infrastructure companies are observing more ‘at risk’ behaviour, where workers are taking chances and exposing themselves to high levels of risk in order to get more done. When times are tight, and the pressure is on, safety becomes a compliance issue rather than a life-saving issue. The difference is a subtle but important one.

 

Of course, the complex interactions involved in scheduling and carrying out maintenance are largely invisible to passengers. Rail travel is one of those things that people only talk about when it goes wrong. And so despite attention from media, politicians and public alike, when bank holidays are disrupted, most people do not see the lengthy decision chains and variable work schemes behind a late train.

 

The problem is that many of these interactions are also invisible to managers and decision-makers. Although there are rules in place to govern and manage maintenance scheduling and work execution, there is only a limited amount of data available to support informed decision-making and few controls in place to make sure rules are being followed. Line managers are left to make decisions based on their experience and instinct. Often there is no global view of where the work is happening or who is doing it – let alone that it will be done safely.

 

To maintain the most effective balance between safety and productivity, rail infrastructure operators must find a way to simplify that complexity. They need to see the big picture and still find the relevant detail so that every decision enables safe delivery of work.

 

However, if we go back to our definition of the railway as a series of interactions, it soon becomes clear that the ‘bigger picture’ is not a static portrait. Nor is it a two-dimensional one.

 

Therefore, successful rail maintenance scheduling should not be a question of running a straight up-and-down to-do list and ticking things off as they are finished. Priorities can change in a very short amount of time, and the order of work gets shuffled around. There are consequences to each of those moves: a change in people, equipment, location, or time required will cause additional changes to other areas of the maintenance schedule.

 

This changing environment is the bigger picture, and rail operators need to understand those consequences and make allowances for them in the planning process in order to run a safe and productive rail network. They need a far more dynamic way of managing maintenance scheduling that takes into account all the factors that affect job scheduling and the way that they interact with each other.

 

To do this, they need a view of all operational activity that takes into account the three key dimensions of each job: time, location and risk.

 

Risk is the important factor here. It is often last-minute or unexpected risk that prevents scheduled maintenance from going ahead. And of course, when risks are ignored, safety is compromised. The compliance approach often relegates risk to just one of a number of factors to be considered. But by choosing risk as the prism through which all work is defined, planned and executed, it becomes much easier to schedule rail maintenance effectively – and so keep to productivity targets.

 

For many organisations this will require a change in culture and its associated processes and procedures. There is no silver bullet or simple switch that can be flicked to transform a complex operation like a rail network. But if a technological solution cannot do all the heavy lifting, it can certainly play a key role in enabling a new risk-centric approach.

 

The right systems can make information transparent to all levels of the organisation at any time. They can provide that essential three-dimensional view: not just what is happening now, but what happened before and what happens next. It can make clear the inter-dependencies and relationships between individual jobs, disciplines, equipment and schedules.

 

It does this by acting as a central repository for all data inputs, and then converting this data into useful decision-making information through visualisation techniques or reporting capability. One of the challenges that rail managers face when trying to get the bigger picture is not necessarily the shortage of data. It’s more often about hard-to-find or hard-to-use data, which is then trumped by the need for quick decisions with the best information available.

 

Visualising and understanding the bigger picture in this way helps reduce the number of coordination issues that arise when planners are unable to see what other works are scheduled at their worksites. It reduces the number of re-planned jobs caused by unknowns on the railway. It enables better use of ‘possessions’ (maintenance periods when all train movement operations are stopped), because all teams can see what work they have on their radars for a given location, and what is planned in that possession.

 

Crucially it also provides all necessary information about jobs up front. During planning, risk assessments and controls can be incorporated in a timely fashion to ensure a coordinated and safe execution of work. Decision-makers have the information necessary to plan work effectively around safety requirements. In this way it supports a better safety-productivity dynamic – with no compromises.

 

To read the full issue of Railway Strategies February issue, please click here.

 

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Petrotechnics’ Proscient Software Achieves Certified Integration With SAP® Applications http://www.petrotechnics.com/news-and-media/press-releases/petrotechnics-proscient-software-achieves-certified-integration-with-sap-applications Tue, 02 Feb 2016 12:09:15 +0000 http://www.petrotechnics.com/?p=4373 Petrotechnics Proscient Integration with SAP ERP_news

Certification Streamlines and Accelerates Value for Customers

ABERDEEN, UK and HOUSTON, TEXAS – February 2, 2016 – Petrotechnics, a leading provider of enterprise operations excellence management software solutions, today announced its proprietary software, Proscient™ version 3.0, has achieved certified integration with the SAP® ERP application, version 6.0.

The SAP Integration and Certification Center (SAP ICC) has certified the integration and interoperability of Proscient 3.0 and SAP ERP 6.0 to help organizations operating in hazardous industries, such as oil and gas, chemicals and rail, manage their critical business operations. Proscient offers companies a new and unique way to visualize and manage risk and activity, empowering everyone in an organization – from the boardroom to the front line – to make better operational decisions.

The integration enables users to ascertain more work is completed in a safe, efficient and sustainable way, improving operational performance and effectiveness, reducing exposure to operational risks – including major accident hazards.

“Proscient’s certified integration with SAP ERP provides tremendous value for our customers. Not only will decision makers have peace-of-mind that Proscient works with their SAP software, but they can also benefit from the value of end-to-end integration to improve operational performance,” said Scott Lehmann, Vice President of Product Management and Marketing at Petrotechnics.

He added, “Proscient helps organizations close the gaps between planning, maintenance, operations, and the reality of how work is executed. This promotes a more holistic and common understanding of balancing risk against productivity – at all levels of the operation.”

Petrotechnics has also joined the SAP PartnerEdge® program as an SAP partner. Through the program, partners work closely with SAP to develop and certify the technical integration of their solutions with SAP software. Integrated partner applications extend, complement and add value to SAP solutions, thereby helping mutual customers more successfully achieve their business goals.

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SAP, PartnerEdge and other SAP products and services mentioned herein as well as their respective logos are trademarks or registered trademarks of SAP SE (or an SAP affiliate company) in Germany and other countries. See http://www.sap.com/corporate-en/legal/copyright/index.epx for additional trademark information and notices.

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Improving Plant Operations with Enterprise Technology http://www.petrotechnics.com/news-and-media/improving-plant-operations-with-enterprise-technology Tue, 01 Dec 2015 18:54:23 +0000 http://www.petrotechnics.com/?p=4366  Petrotechnics Proscient Improving Plant Operations with Integrated Technology

Improving Plant Operations with Enterprise Technology
By: Mike Neill, President, Petrotechnics – North America

Back in early 2009, I was asked a rhetorical question by a senior executive with a major International Oil Company, “How do you run a business when your product unit price rises from $60 to $140 in the space of 14 months and then drops to $40 in less than 6 months?” My glib reply was, “Well that’s the oil business for you!” True enough, we have all learned that being in this industry is a bit like taking a ride at the fairground, with a blindfold – and as we have seen with recent oil price volatility, the ride continues!

I have often reflected on the frustration of that Senior Executive and recognized the difficulties he faced with making decisions in an environment full of uncertainty, beyond the price of oil. Other challenges are abundant such as aging assets, workforce competency, production costs, safety and environmental risk, geopolitical swings, societal pressures, regulatory changes, etc. These challenges must be managed to the satisfaction of shareholders, but how you achieve it is perhaps more important given new emerging areas and the competition to gain access to these markets, whether through joint ventures or licensed operations. Those competing must bring more than just capital to the table in this modern age. Their technical know-how is a differentiator, but more so are the processes and techniques for managing safe, clean, and cost-efficient operations. Being an “excellent operator” is an essential ticket to play these days. In a volatile market, those companies who can react quickest to market opportunities will be the most profitable and will rise to the top. Likewise, those who can demonstrate they have the lowest operating costs, the fewest number of incidents, and the most efficient operations will be the most successful!

Taking a Ride at the Fairground, With a Blindfold
Operational Excellence has long been a topic of conversation in the Hydrocarbon Processing Industry (HPI), and these days it has never been more relevant. In complex, multifunctional organizations, operating complex assets, agility is easier said than done. Operational Excellence programs have been striving to address this for many reasons. With fluctuating commodity prices and constrained budgets, Operational Excellence offers a real way forward to manage fixed costs at the same time as reducing safety and environmental risk. To thrive, Operations Excellence is the means for survival.

“One version of the truth” has been a mantra for many years, and indeed has driven many successful programs but in spite of this, performance gaps remain and process upsets and incidents continue. So now is the time to look at Operation Excellence through the lens of Operational Risk.

Operational Excellence is the practice of getting the most out of your assets safely, efficiently, effectively, and in a sustainable manner. It’s the practice of managing risk, improving the productivity of operations and keeping people and assets safe. DuPont looks at three building blocks towards achieving operational excellence, from operational risk management to capital effectiveness and asset productivity. By starting with a better understanding of operational risk, how people, assets, the environment, reputation, health, and major hazard risk come together, more of the right things can get done at the right time and in the right way. This enables safely and cost effectively extracting the maximum value from an asset, because – if you’re not getting the right things done, you’re not optimizing those assets.

Before we focus on improving performance, we need to address some of the basics. Our industry is hazardous. We operate with large volumes of flammable, explosive, toxic, and corrosive materials at high pressures. The potential for major accidents is ever present as we have seen in recent headline events, including; plant fires, explosions, pipeline ruptures, etc. The cost of getting it wrong is significant. Keeping “stuff” inside the pipes and vessels is paramount. An entire set of regulation and industry practice around Process Safety has developed over time to help achieve this.

Generally companies have a pretty good idea of what could go wrong in their plants, how bad it could be, and what could be done to minimize the risks. They have identified major hazards through failure analysis and specified multiple barrier systems to prevent an event from happening, mitigate its consequences, and avoid risk escalation. Formal or informal operations management systems, including functional operations excellence programs, help manage the process safety lifecycle, from how to handle management of change to operating procedures, safe working practices, competency, and training.

Managing the health of the process safety barriers is crucial throughout the life of the asset in order to sustain its reliable performance. Over time this becomes more challenging as equipment ages, wall thicknesses reduces through corrosion, and general wear-and-tear take their toll on the reliability of safety-critical equipment. This conundrum rests on Operations in terms of where to devote valuable resources to achieve the best value.

There is constant competition in an organization between the differing interest groups, each vying for their share of resources. Maintenance, Reliability, Process Safety, Asset Integrity, Projects, etc. compete for budget share and space in a typically crowded schedule. Each will emphasize the consequences of deferring activity, be that cost escalation, production decline, opportunity loss, increasing safety risk, or regulation violation. Some of the activities will necessitate bringing equipment out of service, reducing plant throughput, and in the extreme, shutting down an entire unit. Operations will be in the thick of this wrestling match, arguing for plant uptime to meet their targets. This is where Operational Excellence can make a difference. The long-term decisions on prioritization, short-term decisions on planning and scheduling, and the day-to-day management of activities are where truly excellent companies excel. The problem facing most organizations is how to best compare all of the options and choose which is right for the business as a whole.

The symptoms of not getting this right are too obvious; unplanned plant and equipment outages, extreme maintenance backlogs, deferments of safety-critical inspection/testing, and an increased number of integrity failures. Many companies set out on a new asset with the intention of implementing proactive, preventative maintenance, but very quickly they become swamped and fail to balance competing needs. All too easily, they slip into a “fix-and-repair” mode versus “maintain and prevent” approach. As assets age, this becomes more critical – not just due to aging equipment, but also to the change in demand on the facility. Market dynamics can often extend the useful life of an asset and associated infrastructure way beyond its original design life. This puts tremendous pressure on the teams responsible for keeping the plant running, in good repair, and compliant with internal standards and regulatory requirements. Some of our refineries and petrochemical plants have systems still in operation that were installed over 50 years ago! The many years of operating with slender commercial margins and the resultant squeeze on maintenance budgets have taken their toll.

…so, it is no wonder plant owners seem to be fighting a losing battle in which we often hear complaints, “We just can’t get enough of the ‘right’ things done safely and efficiently.”

Why is it so Difficult?
Surprisingly one of our biggest challenges is the ability to promptly define the issues and compare options using common criteria. For example, a Project Team Manager wants to install a new deluge system around major vessels in the FCC (fluid catalytic cracking) unit. This job will render the area inaccessible for four months. The Asset Integrity Manager is arguing that deferring the planned pipework inspection program will increase the risk of failure on the plant. The Facility Manager will likely opt for the project crew since a new deluge system will restore the necessary performance versus the current system, which is constantly in need of repairs. Corrosion, he knows, is relatively slow acting, and the pipework does not look “that bad;” although, he feels guilty because this is the third time the inspection crew has been deferred.

This is not an uncommon scenario, and every day these types of decisions are determined by budgets, logistics constraints, and “gut feel” rather than rational decisions; and, let’s be honest, sometimes these decisions are made by the Manager that shouts the loudest! What is needed is better data, in a more accessible manner to allow decision-makers to compare the options. Dealing with future uncertainties typically boils down to the risk of welcome or unwelcome outcomes, for example; how quickly could corrosion in that pipe have accelerated, bringing us closer to a line failure? What are the real benefits of restoring the deluge system? We can make these choices even more complicated by another project team, with a de-bottlenecking project in the same area that could restore the unit to full capacity. So now we have the challenge of deciding between two optional activity costs to keep the plant going, compared to the costs of increasing the potential throughput and revenue stream from the plant. Does this daily conundrum start to look familiar?

Data is the root of the problem. Data is gathered to understand the health of equipment and systems and is typically held in closed “silos” inside our organizations, inaccessible in a useful manner to the majority. Standalone data systems or spreadsheets are used to manage the masses of data, often jealously guarded by subject matter experts who alone can access and interpret this data.

Management processes are in place, generating performance indicators, but the data they provide is often difficult to utilize effectively. Lagging indicators capture the symptoms already mentioned: equipment failure, system outages, loss of containment incidents, etc. What some people refer to as “leading indicators,” typically focus on the health of the management system. Like lagging indicators, these provide data which is useful for showing trends but not specific enough or timely enough to support operational decisions. What we need to know is the potential impact of each of these conditions or non-compliances, and the cumulative impact of all of them in the context of day-to-day operations.

For example, one such Key Performance Indicator (KPI) might be that 95% of safety-critical inspections were carried out on schedule. This sounds impressive, but it begs questions about the 5% that were deferred. What’s included here, and what might they impact? If 80% of P&IDs (piping and instrumentation diagrams) are up to date, what about the 20% which are not? If 85% of overdue MOC (management of change) tickets will be closed-out this month, what is the impact of the 15% which will not? And what is the risk impact when these three items converge as work is carried out in one area of the plant, next Saturday morning?

It is a fact that KPIs look very different depending on where you are placed. Those organizations whose leaders spend the time to visit facilities and are competent enough to recognize what they are seeing will likely outperform those whose leaders rely on KPIs. Not too long ago we were speaking with a Regional Maintenance Director, who said, “What’s interesting is that all of the indicators that are pushed up to me look good. Our operational reality is completely different. Unplanned outages, rising costs, maintenance backlogs, declining capacity, near misses – how do we reconcile these two visions of the world?”

The conclusion is, we have a lot of separate functions in our organizations – each with their own risk management systems, but we find it very difficult to compare the priorities each system generates.

Are we Forced to Wear the Blindfold?
We need to improve the way we gather, analyze, and disseminate data. Too many of our systems reflect our organizations’ structures. They are stand-alone and do not talk to each other very well. We need to find better ways to integrate our systems across our enterprise. Data and analysis need to be easily shared at the frontline and through all levels, including the boardroom, as a true reflection of how the organization is performing.

We need to find better ways to deal with management processes (most of which are effectively risk management systems). When non-conformances are identified, we must evaluate the impact on operations, allowing us to make better prioritization choices. Rather than being focused on how well each management process is working, we need to understand the combined effect of deviations on the safe and effective operation of the facility. As a priority, we need to be able to identify how they are impacting the fundamental process safety barriers that protect our people, our assets, the facility, and its surroundings against major accidents.

To deliver on the promise of Operational Excellence, operators need to integrate operations management and risk management at an enterprise level.

These concepts are not new, but the tools capable of properly managing them are only starting to emerge.

Managing the Ride
Enterprise Operations Excellence Management software platforms offer improvements over traditional ways of assessing operational risk. These decision-support tools help manage the complete planning-to-execution business process. By utilizing these solutions, companies can visualize risk at all levels of their organizations and significantly improve operational performance. By better integrating planning, maintenance, and operations, companies can access visibility into the complete operation, driving increased efficiency and effectiveness overall.

Operations Excellence Management platforms enable plant operators to standardize initiatives, policies, processes, and procedures across their organization, driving a culture of excellence. They enable
operators to,

  • Employ routine and efficient management of operational risk through the organization
  • Understand the contributing factors to safety risk and their impact on process safety barriers in one place, in real-time
  • Produce new leading indicators of operational risk that reflect the operational reality of the plant
  • Close the gaps between maintenance, planning, and the operational reality of the plant to achieve better plan attainment, wrench time, and operational decisions
  • See all risk across the organization, in time and space dimensions

These enterprise systems have emerged from a realization of the gaps between planning, maintenance, and operations processes and look to provide a way to integrate them into a holistic, end-to-end solution.

Current practices result in isolated silos of data and information reflecting the different organizational silos that produce data. Interoperability is vital to achieving a holistic understanding of plant health. Operations Excellence Management platforms are designed to interface with ERP, EAM-CMMS maintenance management systems, inspection databases, and planning and scheduling systems to help identify plant conditions, the real-time status of barrier impairments, manage work safely and efficiently, and improve future plan attainment.

A built-in risk assessment engine provides the necessary workflow to assess the impact of deviations associated with risk control systems, major events, and impaired process safety barriers – all in the context of daily operations. By aggregating deviations and non-conformances with functional data management systems, operators can access early warning signals of the potential for a major incident by a specific area of the plant, across a unit, and throughout an entire facility, over a specific duration.

Furthermore, connecting the performance of PSM systems to their impact on operations enables operators to make proactive interventions to prevent major accidents. Dashboards simplify operational risk management through a consistent means of visualizing risk so everyone across the plant can make better decisions. They help operators understand plant status in terms of risk, trends, and peak exposure. Icons on graphical screens show area(s) of the plant affected by impairments and deviations, in addition to their cumulative impact on process safety barriers and activities that could contribute to an actual event.

Prioritizing work based on risk is more achievable with an enterprise operations excellence management solution. Currently, many Operational teams recognize the value of being able to prioritize, fix, or maintain activities by the level of risk reduction they achieve. The ability to determine and compare with alternatives has always been elusive, but with this new category of software technology, such comparisons are easier to understand. They drive increased efficiency and effectiveness through improved plan accuracy, plan attainment, plan safety, and overall wrench time – maximizing the value of our assets. Additionally, the frontline workforce is better informed about the risk consequences of their planned activities, and as a result, they can make better decisions. The organization as a whole has greater insight into day-to-day operational risk exposure as well as the efficiencies gained in work execution. This is true across the enterprise, making it easier to compare performance between assets and between regions.

Back to the Ride at the Fairground
While these new technology solutions may not be able to smooth out the entire ride, they allow the blindfold to slip a little by providing predictive views of what is coming ‘round the bend. In doing so, they enable better decision-making.

As I started this article, companies who want to pursue Operational Excellence need to make significant changes to the way they currently work. Organizational barriers need to be knocked-down, and data needs to be shared more widely and leveraged to its full potential for performance to improve. Enterprise-wide Operations Excellence Management technology is the only way to achieve this to its fullest while driving a culture of excellence. As with physical plant processes, business processes need to be systematized such they generate the data we need to make better decisions. Risk Management based on generic data beyond its sell-by date needs to be a thing of the past, and with technology it can be!

Returning to the Senior Executive I met with back in 2009, if he were to ask me the same question today, I think I would have a better answer for him!

About the Author:

Petrotechnics' Mike NeillMike Neill is the President of Petrotechnics North America. With his 35-year background in operations working for BP and throughout his career at Petrotechnics, Mike has helped improve safety and performance management for Oil & Gas organizations around the world.

Mike is a member of the CCPS, AIChE, GPA, ASSE, AFPM, and the Mary Kay O’Connor Process Safety Center steering committee. For more information on Mike, his work, or Petrotechnics, please visit: www. petrotechnics.com.

 

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Petrotechnics Featured in Future Rail – Learning From Oil and Gas http://www.petrotechnics.com/news-and-media/media-coverage/petrotechnics-featured-in-future-rail-learning-from-oil-and-gas Mon, 30 Nov 2015 15:56:34 +0000 http://www.petrotechnics.com/?p=4280

Click here to download a PDF version of the infographic

Safety versus productivity is a constant challenge for the Rail industry, but it’s one that the Oil and Gas sector has started to address. Iain Mackay of Petrotechnics shows how rail operators can learn from the Oil and Gas sector.

When the Golden Age of rail is mentioned, it conjures up images of a pre-Beeching era, of puffing steam trains and classic fiction such as The Railway Children. In reality, the Golden Age of rail is now. More passenger journeys are undertaken today than at any point in history. Passenger density is greater than at any point too. The amount of freight carried by train is growing steadily all the time.

There is another side to this reality: the assets on which these journeys are made are aging. Although clouds of steam and sooty faces are no longer a feature of rail travel, there are still oil lamps and Victorian signal boxes on remote parts of the network. While these are being replaced and earlier underinvestment is rectified, modern infrastructure requires regular maintenance and upkeep. As the assets are used more heavily and the demands placed on them increase, the rate of wear and tear accelerates.

The rail industry therefore finds itself in something of a vicious circle: as rail use goes up, so do maintenance requirements. Available capacity is restricted, adding pressures to an already stretched network. The demand for rapid repairs becomes ever greater, while the window in which to perform them gets smaller.

Productivity under pressure

There is a constant tug of war between doing things quickly and doing them safely called the ‘safety-productivity dynamic’. The managers responsible for infrastructure availability and position planning are not necessarily the same people appointed to manage the safe delivery of work. The inevitable consequence is that operational decision-making, and with it overall productivity, will eventually be compromised.

However, ‘safety versus productivity’ is the ever-present conundrum in hazardous industries where heavy machinery, extreme temperatures and explosive amounts of energy meet vulnerable humanity. Failures, whether of safety procedures or delivery schedules, are often high profile and have a very high cost.

The oil and gas industry is one such example. Extremely hazardous when operated with poorly maintained assets, the downtime needed for upkeep and repairs can nonetheless be costly. The pressure is always on to keep a rig or refinery productive but there is an equal pressure to keep people safe.

There are important differences of course. In international oil companies, everybody from the front-line worker to the CEO appreciates that there are risks involved at every stage of the process. These may remain unobserved or simply hidden, and the bigger picture can remain obscure, but it is an accepted fact that this is intrinsically a hazardous environment and therefore the health, safety and environmental factors that come with it are widely understood, acknowledged and respected.

In contrast, when we look at rail, with potentially an equal level of hazard, understanding of risk is less complete. The ever-present threat posed by thousands of tonnes of metal coming down the track at 60 mph is well understood by railway engineers – and safety records in this area are strong. But the deadly silence of a third rail, or the less obvious threats posed by lopping branches from trackside trees are more troubling.

The other important difference is that an offshore oil platform, for example, is a highly controlled environment – no one is there who is not supposed to be. In contrast, railways are public services in public spaces, which introduces many more variables into the mix. Oil industry accidents are rarer but can be catastrophic. Safety failures on railways tend be smaller, but more frequent. As Mark Carne, Chief Executive of Network Rail pointed out, a worker is ten times more likely to be killed in the rail industry than in the oil and gas sector.

So what, if anything, can rail learn from the oil and gas industry?

A common cause

If these industries differ in the nature of the risks they present, they are remarkably similar in the way that the pace of work and the safety of workers can be managed.

Both sectors are highly regulated. Both see risk arise from the point where assets or infrastructure, policies and people start to interact. And both tend to have safety rule books that can be measured in metres rather than page numbers. These rule books are a detailed history of every incident or issue that has arisen in previous decades. As a potential problem becomes apparent, or an accident occurs, mitigating procedures are developed and the remedial response added to the list.

However, what certain players in the oil and gas industry have understood for some time, and rail operators are coming to recognise, is that these incredibly detailed safety procedures may actually be part of the problem and not the solution.

First of all, the more complex the rule book, the more certain it is that a compliant decision in one area will be non-compliant in another. A rig or a railway is rather like a huge machine, in which every asset, every worker and every job is a carefully calibrated cog. Adding a fix to an individual asset or a new procedure for a specific work crew will, over time, cause those cogs to skip, jam or misalign. Fixing a broken cog here could lead to a new problem over there – until eventually the whole machine grinds to a halt.

Second of all, the good intentions of an extensive rule book often don’t survive interaction with high-stress work environments. Take late-night, trackside maintenance with a diverse crew. When caught between an unwieldy set of procedures, a pressure to deliver to tight timetables, and work colleagues who want to get home to their families, any number of possible wrong decisions can be made.

The law of unintended consequences is never far away, and the best of intentions can lead to the most perverse of outcomes. Workers carry on as they always have. They do what their colleagues do. The cog grinds down… work takes longer or costs more than is necessary.

The challenge is to create processes that deliver coherent and consistent practice across a diverse range of assets, people, tasks, locations, and supply chains.

Rigs, railways and risks

Since the Piper Alpha tragedy in the North Sea, the oil and gas industry has had its safety procedures under constant review. Even chefs on oil rigs have specific directives for handling hot food. Lord Cullen’s recommendations for industry spoke of a suitable and sufficient risk assessment for every task.

Over the years, the industry has written a mountain of rule books in reaction to ad hoc incidents. In recent times, however, companies have reassessed this approach, instead taking a more holistic view based upon a comprehensible series of core principles and essential criteria. Processes have then been adopted that provide a complete picture of operations, and parameters set within which people can make good decisions. The resulting decision-making capability has then been supported with the appropriate technology.

This results in a far more manageable set of procedures that take into account the interrelated nature of the hazards, risks, and future plans for the business. By adopting this risk-centric approach, smarter oil companies take a step back and consider how an entire program of work can be planned and delivered, or an entire operation managed safely, rather than simply asking how a specific task should be performed.

To make information sharing easier and more meaningful, details about the asset, the policies, the people, is translated into a common language of risk. So instead of defining a task then adding a risk assessment to it, risk is the prism through which every activity is viewed. With this common language of risk, consistent channels are more easily created to share information. Everyone from the ground up has access to the bigger picture.

In this model, front-line engineers know why they are carrying out a given task. They might implement a much-needed short-term fix, for example, but highlight the longer-term remedy that is needed to support future business plans. Managers can see and respond to their staff’s daily interaction with the assets they run and the policies they implement. Smarter decisions can be made about staffing, scheduling and safety.

Getting It Right

It is easy to underestimate what a radical shift in thinking this represents. But the opportunity is there for rail companies to do the same thing. The parallels are clear: the only difference is the timescales. Oil and gas companies have had 20 years to change their thinking; and rail companies can benefit from this experience in their own mission to plan and deliver safe work.

In the face of technology advances that have transformed our world, it’s also easy to overstate the importance of digital support. The reality is that it’s all about getting the right procedures, empowering the right people, and seeing safety as an inherent enabler of productivity.

Ultimately, what oil and gas firms have found is that once the initial changes have bedded in, and the connections between people, processes and assets are opened up, the age-old dynamic between safety and productivity becomes a complementary, rather than a contradictory force.

Click here to read the rest of this issue of Future Rail magazine

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Awareness Of Your Elevated Risks http://www.petrotechnics.com/news-and-media/media-coverage/awareness-of-your-elevated-risks Tue, 13 Oct 2015 11:51:01 +0000 http://www.petrotechnics.com/?p=4179

Aberdeen-based software company is seeing big interest in its ‘Proscient’ solution to help offshore workers be more aware about elevated risks, so they can plan their work accordingly.

One thread common to the Piper Alpha, Texas City Refinery and Deepwater Horizon accident investigation reports is there were multiple factors which elevated risk levels leading up to the incidents.

Taken on their own, they may have been considered to represent an acceptable level of risk, but unfortunately their cumulative impact on risk was much higher than was realized at the time. They also represented multiple opportunities for preventing the incident from occurring or escalating.

“In all 3 incidents, there were multiple prevention and mitigation barriers which failed, each representing an opportunity to stop the accident from happening or at least mitigating its consequences. The problem in all 3 incidents was the information which could have informed and possibly changed the decisions that were made was not easily available,” said Mike Neill, North American President of Aberdeen software company, Petrotechnics.

“Most people have a keen survival instinct so when hazards are obvious, they will react to avoid an incident,” Mr. Neill continues. “If you walk down some steep steps and there is not a hand rail, you naturally proceed with some caution or you do not go down at all being aware of the fall hazard. Today, few people smoke cigarettes because they are aware of the publicized cancer, heart attack and stroke risk. 50 years ago the majority of people smoked. The risks were the same but the population at large were unaware of them.

These simple examples show how people change their behavior and make different decisions based on information received, and as a result, they reduce their exposure to risk.

The aim here is to show if information about risk factors had been more widely shared in the case of Piper Alpha, Texas City and Deep-water Horizon, these accidents might not have occurred.

In hazardous industries, “multiple layers of protection” are used so organizations are not just relying on the performance of a single barrier, recognizing that each of the multiple layers may not be perfect.

Swiss cheese is a commonly used metaphor for the protection layers. The holes represent the barrier imperfections, and incidents occur when all of the holes in each of the layers line up, a failure of not just one but of several barriers.

“When major accidents are investigated, it is typical to find there were many opportunities for people to intervene and prevent the incident from occurring or escalating. Typically the reason cited for lack of intervention was they did not have all the relevant, up-to-date information to make better decisions. They were unable to join up the dots, so to speak. They did not see the holes in the cheese lining up,” says Mr. Neill.

Petrotechnics’ flagship operational excellence management platform, ‘Proscient,’ can be used to understand and manage elevated risk associated with operations. For example, the software can help everyone on the platform be aware if there is a planned maintenance task which will elevate risks, such if you have to temporarily break pipework or a containment system to do a job.

You might be planning to inspect electrical junction boxes, which means there is a possible source of an ignition spark. Normally the junction boxes are closed and sealed, so any gas in the air can’t reach inside. With Proscient, an icon will show on a map of the plant that the ignition barrier system is currently compromised.

The system can share information about particularly high-risk tasks being carried out, such as a heavy lift over a live plant or performing “hot work” with a naked flame or ignition source.

If safety equipment is unavailable, such as if the sprinkler system is blocked with scale, you can indicate one of your safety barriers is not working, risks are therefore higher in that area of the plant and the decision might mean to not carry out with the intended work program.

Proscient can share information about which pieces of safety equipment are overdue for inspection or maintenance in specific areas.

A company may have a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) saying 95 per cent of its safety critical maintenance and inspections are up to  date. This may give a false sense of confidence, particularly if the 5 per cent overdue is in one area where you are planning hazardous work. “Reliance on broad brush KPIs is not sufficient. You need to know details of deferrals, and these need to be current and area specific so the relevant people can make the correct judgements about activities,” Mr. Neill says.

This information can be made available to all staff members through clear visualisations. “We’re trying to bring this stuff together so it is more staring you in the face,” Mr. Neill says.

The software is used by offshore staff to log and monitor anything which is increasing risk from a minimum acceptable level, and this information can then be widely shared, with pictures, showing what is leading to a higher risk and what extra measures should be taken. “A lot of data tends to be kept by specific experts, perhaps because they think no-one else will understand it,” Mr. Neill says. So one of the things Proscient does is aim to make this easier, creating visualisations for data in real-time.

The software takes all the elevated levels of risk into account and provides an overall assessment, shown with a red traffic light. This can be used as a basis for users to make alterations to the plan, until the software displays amber or green signals, showing the risk potential has reached an acceptable level.

A danger signal might be because (for example) certain high-risk jobs are happening at the same time, in the same place, or a number of concurrent high-risk jobs are working against one another.

Decision-making

Decisions about taking action to reduce risk are relatively complex, when it comes to prioritizing one task over another. Priorities have to be made because there is always limited resource. In the case of offshore facilities the constraints can be finite bed space and helicopter seats.

Without a tool like Proscient, the impact on risk of performing one task versus another is difficult to judge so often is given less consideration. Similarly, the consequence of tasks being delayed often results in increasing risk. But this can be difficult to quantify which weakens its priority justification. In the end, it often comes down to who shouts loudest as to what work is prioritised, Mr Neill says.

When it comes to day-of work, frontline decision makers are typically pragmatic. So if they are not made aware of defective barrier systems, they will typically assume all is in good order, unless there are visual indications to the contrary, Mr. Neill says.

Proscient helps support frontline decision makers. For example there is a low pressure drainage system where pitting corrosion has resulted in leaks, yet the leaks have been patched. You could say “that’s a medium level risk” (in case the patches fail) and “any work within a 20m radius should always have continuous gas monitoring, until the pipework has been replaced.”

Ultimately, decisions need to be made by people not a machine, but the software means that operations decisions are “not made while wearing a blindfold,” he said.

“The system isn’t going to judge what’s safe and what isn’t,” he said. “We’re providing information that allows users to make better, more informed decisions.”

Software

The “Proscient” software has many graphical displays, for example showing a layout of the facility, with icons showing the work which is currently going on, and flags showing where there are weaknesses in some of the barrier systems.

The software is web-based, so the client just needs a PC with a browser or a mobile tablet. It can be hosted by Petrotechnics or by the client. “Offshore on platform you’re never that far from a PC,” he says.

“We’re finding in the US there’s a big push for using mobile solutions. We have dedicated apps that sit on mobile tablets and are user friendly in the field.

The software can automatically suck data from other software packages such as SAP, Maximo, Primavera, OSIsoft and more.

 

Petrotechnics

Petrotechnics is mainly focused on production operations in the oil and gas and petrochemical industries but has recently broken into rail transportation.

The two most recent publicly announced oil and gas contracts were in February 2015, with Nexen agreeing to install the Proscient software on two offshore assets in the North Sea, and in September 2014, with Teekay Petrojarl agreeing to deploy the software on its FPSOs in the North Sea (both UK and Norwegian sectors) and in Brazil.

One major oil company has Petrotechnics’ software installed on all of its upstream assets, and staff say it is “second only to e-mail as the most used piece of software on a facility,” says Mr. Neill.

Read the article in full here.

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Petrotechnics Featured In Rigzone: Focus on Operational Efficiency Needed in North Sea http://www.petrotechnics.com/news-and-media/media-coverage/petrotechnics-featured-in-rigzone-focus-on-operational-efficiency-needed-in-north-sea Wed, 16 Sep 2015 10:23:34 +0000 http://www.petrotechnics.com/?p=4155

The North Sea oil and gas industry’s main reaction to low oil prices needs to focus on addressing the underlying of operational inefficiency, an industry official told Rigzone in a recent interview.

While unit cost and increased activity have contributed to increased North Sea operating costs, the single biggest cause of rising costs in the basin is inefficiency in operations. What’s interesting about the latest efficiency initiative launched by Oil & Gas UK is the move from cost-cutting to efficiency to transformation, Petrotechnics Ltd. CEO Phil Murray told Rigzone in an interview on the sidelines of the SPE Offshore Europe Conference Tuesday in Aberdeen.

Operational inefficiencies are not new to the oil and gas industry, but oil price upswings in a cyclical market has offset the effect of inefficiencies, allowing them to remain. Seven years ago, Murray was asked to speak at a conference on operational inefficiency in light of the 2009 oil price decline. But by the time the conference rolled around, oil had rebounded to $70/barrel and kept rising, saving the industry from inefficiency.

If the industry is to survive in what BP CEO Bob Dudley expects to be a “lower for longer” price environment, the industry will need to address these inefficiencies and the costs associated with them, said Murray, whose company focuses on improving operational efficiencies in oil and gas.

“Historically, we’ve let ourselves off the hook.”

The industry has been good at cost reduction, but not good at addressing inefficiency, Murray said. Transformation is even more difficult. The industry’s cyclical nature makes this so – if everyone is waiting for oil prices to rebound, they don’t have to change.

In upstream oil and gas, inefficiencies and poor quality don’t hit companies like they would automobiles on a showroom floor, Murray said. The lack of consumers in upstream oil and gas means that that drive and competition doesn’t exist like it does in the automotive industry.

“We need to work harder to build that drive into the way we operate.”

This drive includes standardization of equipment, said Murray, who saw attempts towards standardization while working in industry 25 years ago. In a margin-driven business, a company will seek ways to save while enhancing revenue and productivity. In a business not driven by standardization, the luxury of bespoke production can be afforded.

“We constantly say we can learn lessons from the automotive and aerospace industries,” said Murray. “We know what those lessons are. We need to apply them.”

Will this finally change? If there was ever a time for change, that time is now, particularly in the North Sea Basin, due to the perfect storm of low oil prices, high costs, mature basins, declining production efficiency and aging infrastructure. Companies will need to look at and address their risks in a new way to boost production performance.

Digital oilfield technology has transformed other industries, but has yet to hit the oilfield. Murray believes this technology is one of the levers that oil and gas companies can pull to enhance efficiency.

Workers from the executive level to the oilfield worker holding the wrench need the power to make better decisions; the intelligent use of digital technology is the solution to industry’s Big Data problem, Murray added. Being able to visualize data in a new way can help CEOs determine if their company faces more or less risk in a year, or whether supervisors can postpone a job.

“Everybody is talking about risk, but we don’t have tools to help people manage that,” said Murray. “What we’re talking about is using technology we have now to create a common currency of operational risk.”

By looking at risk in the same way a financial balance sheet is examined, companies can determine whether to invest in improving maintenance, standardization, or another area.

And rather than setting safety against production, risk should be managed in a holistic way to lower risk while raising production. “This is what manufacturers have learned,” Murray commented. “When they built quality into their manufacturing system, their quality went up.”

By implementing routine risk management into oil and gas operations, quality will rise as well.

“The industry has a track record for meeting challenges and meeting them well,” said Murray. “The North Sea is a great example.”

But events such as the 2010 Deepwater Horizon incident serve as reminders of the consequences of getting it wrong. There’s no substitute for expertise, Murray said, noting that the industry can’t afford to lose expertise. More collaboration and sharing of lessons learned is needed in the industry.

“The number of times of repeating mistakes is not a smart things to do.”

In addition to digital technology, business processes must be developed to allow information to be shared across the process gaps that exist within companies. A company may have great key performance indicators, but the world could be falling apart around them, Murray said.

“The equipment on an offshore platform doesn’t care who you work for. Without the cohesive force of a customer such as in the automotive industry – where if a car doesn’t work, it doesn’t work – it’s easy for silos to crop up within companies.”

The other sort of gap that exists is between the plans and the reality of oil and gas operations. Particularly in the North Sea, many plans are done onshore. Better collaborative technology exists to address the gap between plans and realities for oil and gas, but better business planning and processes are needed with the actual execution of projects, Murray said.

“It may be complex, but it doesn’t have to be complicated.”

Read the article on Rigzone here.

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Promoting efficiency and reduced operational risk http://www.petrotechnics.com/news-and-media/media-coverage/promoting-efficiency-and-reduced-operational-risk Wed, 12 Aug 2015 14:56:25 +0000 http://www.petrotechnics.com/?p=4117

 

Petrotechnics, a leading provider of Enterprise Operations Excellence Management software solutions, is strengthening its Middle East presence in response to the growth in demand for its flagship solution Proscient.™

Introduced in 2013, Proscient is the Enterprise Operations Excellence Management platform specifically designed to enable organisations in hazardous industries to optimise production efficiency and lower operational risk. With powerful capabilities to ensure the strategic intent of policy is systematised in operational practice, organisations can ensure workload is consistently managed against risk, according to policy, across one or many of their plants.

“One of the main drivers behind digital oilfields is to enable operators to get more out of their existing assets,” comments David Bleackley, vice president of sales at Petrotechnics. “This offers many parallels with what we’re doing and how we fit into operational excellence programmes — it is all about enabling people to get more out of their existing assets, by which we mean both capital assets and human assets. In order to do that, companies are striving to understand the gaps in their business processes to enable them to drive these business processes more effectively — that’s where we fit in. It is not sufficient to keep individual plant, assets or operators safe, you need a much wider understanding of the operational risk you face as an organisation in order to be able to make safe and effective operational decisions.”

How does Proscient work? “All our customers have a range of operational management systems and risk control systems associated with their plant, and for each of those systems they will have a set of performance standards or criteria which they are managing those systems to,” explains Bleackley. “The challenge comes when the system fails to meet those criteria; what are the operational decisions that need to be made to keep operating in a safe way and above a safe threshold, and how do you prioritise your work activity in light of those deviations from your own performance standards?

“The software identifies what those deviations are. It then allows you to understand the significance of those deviations, both individually and collectively, and based on that understanding of the level of risk created by those deviations enables operators to prioritise a) how they continue to operate the plant and, b) what interventions they are going to make — both in the near term and in the medium term. There are a number of disparate business processes associated with that, because traditionally these individual risk control systems have been managed by different technical authorities or different functional groups within an operator; Proscient brings that collective view and collective impact of all those deviations occurring.

“So our technology allows people to make better decisions about how to continue to operate, as well as to prioritise what to do to rectify the situation. It is not immediately intuitive, because of the large number of people and the different business processes involved. We provide a common understanding of the challenge an operator is faced with.”

The Middle East is a key growth area for Petrotechnics and the company sees huge potential in the region, says Bleackley. “Proscient is now a recognised solution within the global oil and gas sector, and we’ve seen strong growth in demand for our technology over the last few years worldwide. But there are some specific factors in the Middle East which are driving us to look at this region with increased focus. Firstly, there is a certain degree of cultural change occurring in the Middle East at the moment, related both to fundamental safety culture and to operational excellence culture — both aspects are sweet-spots for our platform, and we are well placed to capitalise on these cultural changes. And secondly there is the long-term, strategic outlook of the Middle East operators.

“We have several ongoing installations in the Middle East due soon to go live, and a couple of pending awards, as well as a number of installations in North Africa,” adds Bleackley. “We see the need for a strong presence in the region and are building up our team in the Gulf states, where we currently have offices in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. This will strengthen our ability to service existing clients, while identifying and developing new opportunities David Bleackley, vice president of sales, Petrotechnics in the region.”

This article was published in Vol. 18 of Oil Review Middle East.

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Petrotechnics launches new competency and training centre http://www.petrotechnics.com/news-and-media/press-releases/petrotechnics-launches-new-competency-and-training-centre Tue, 04 Aug 2015 14:46:24 +0000 http://www.petrotechnics.com/?p=4106

New facility will meet increasing demand for operational excellence training in hazardous industries.

Aberdeen, UK, 4th August 2015 – Petrotechnics, the enterprise operations excellence management solutions provider, today celebrates the opening of its state-of-the-art competency and training centre. Located at the company’s Aberdeen headquarters, the new facility will address changing demands for operations excellence training in hazardous industries, including oil and gas, chemical and rail.

To date, over 70,000 people have been through Petrotechnics’ training programmes, with more than 4,000 delegates enrolled in the last year alone. The new centre will offer increased capacity to meet growing demand for a range of courses, including Petrotechnics’ leading software platform, Proscient.

The centre’s new classrooms feature state-of-the-art interactive facilities and a broader range of training programmes, from traditional classroom training to “self-paced” and “on-demand” options for online learning.

“Petrotechnics has been delivering training for over 25 years and during that time we have experienced a significant shift in industry demands from simple control of work to integrated operational risk and operations management best practices. Our investment in this new facility is part of our ongoing commitment to maintaining quality competence practices and addressing complex training needs across hazardous industries,” says Iain Mackay, Executive Vice President, Petrotechnics.

Petrotechnics’ team of 26 veteran trainers and coaches have a combined industry experience of 460 years. Their global expertise and knowledge is unrivalled in helping companies in hazardous industries improve how they manage risk, hazards and operational safety. Petrotechnics’ trainers have supported over 48 major projects with courses delivered in 24 countries on every continent.

“Hazardous industries have long understood the value of having a competent, trained workforce, and its contribution to productivity and safety,” adds John Broomfield, Training Operations Manager, Petrotechnics.

“However, the means of achieving and maintaining a competent workforce have changed, and we have seen a steady evolution in industry training requirements, leading us to enhance our facilities and courses to meet this demand.”

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CIO Review Recognizes Petrotechnics as a Leading Enterprise Risk Management Solution Provider http://www.petrotechnics.com/news-and-media/press-releases/cio-review-recognizes-petrotechnics-as-a-leading-enterprise-risk-management-solution-provider Thu, 09 Jul 2015 09:55:50 +0000 http://www.petrotechnics.com/?p=4051 Proscient awarded for empowering organizations to proactively manage operational risk

Houston, TX — July 9, 2015Petrotechnics, the leading provider of enterprise operations excellence management software solutions, is proud to announce it was recognized by CIO Review as a 2015 “Most Promising Enterprise Risk Management Solution Provider” for its Proscient solution. Petrotechnics’ recognition is based on the evaluation of its proven Integrated Operational Risk Management solution.

Petrotechnics was selected by an independent panel of experts and members of CIO Review’s editorial board. “Petrotechnics has been on our radar for some time for stirring a revolution in the Enterprise Risk Management space,” said Harvi Sachar, Publisher and Founder, CIO Review. “We are happy to showcase them this year due to their continued excellence delivering top-notch, enterprise-wide operational risk management solutions that transform the way companies in hazardous industries understand, manage and mitigate risk.”

Proscient allows organizations in hazardous industries to better understand the cumulative operational risk they are carrying at any given time – which can be used to improve operational decision making at all levels of the organization. With a better understanding of the level and nature of risk being carried, risk mitigation can become an integral way of achieving efficient and effective operations. The benefits to the industry can range from an early warning system for potential major accident hazard (MAH) incidents – allowing organizations to make proactive interventions, better prioritize maintenance, and make more informed decisions around risk and activity at the frontline operations level.

“Petrotechnics is honored to be recognized by CIO Review’s panel of experts and thought leaders,” said Mike Neill, Petrotechnics President – North America. “This recognition affirms Petrotechnics’ vision to deliver world-class, game-changing solutions to help customers to reduce risk, improve operational performance and keep people safe. Proscient provides hazardous industries the ability to better understand risk and its impact on the operational reality of the plant. As a result they can make better decisions to safely improve operational effectiveness and efficiency of how they operate and maintain the plant to improve asset productivity,” added Neill.

Click to download the CIO Review article recognizing Petrotechnics’ Proscient as a Top Enterprise Risk Management Solution.

About CIO Review
CIO Review constantly endeavors to identify “The Best” in a variety of areas important to tech business. Through nominations and consultations with industry leaders, our editors choose the best in different domains. Enterprise Risk Management Special Edition is an annual listing of 20 Most Promising Enterprise Risk Management Solution Providers in the U.S.

About Petrotechnics
Petrotechnics was founded with a vision to keep more people safe in hazardous industries around the world. For over 25 years, Petrotechnics has delivered proven software solutions that empower organizations to improve the sustainability of their businesses through improved operational decision-making. Petrotechnics’ flagship enterprise operations excellence management platform, Proscient, integrates operations management and risk management at the enterprise level to help clients standardize initiatives, policies, processes and procedures across their organization, driving a culture of excellence. For more information on Petrotechnics or Proscient, please visit www.petrotechnics.com.

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Interview with RPME: Move PSM Beyond Compliance for Safer, More Efficient Operations http://www.petrotechnics.com/news-and-media/media-coverage/interview-with-rpme-move-psm-beyond-compliance-for-safer-more-efficient-operations Wed, 08 Jul 2015 15:44:01 +0000 http://www.petrotechnics.com/?p=4063

Refining and Petrochemicals Middle East delves below the corporate strategy to understand what really makes the industry’s leaders tick. This month Andrew Bartlett, Petrotechnics’ HSE Consultant, is interviewed.

Tell us a little bit about Petrotechnics’ main areas of focus here in the Middle East.

Petrotechnics has recently increased its presence in the Middle East by opening up an office in Abu Dhabi. The reason for this is that demand is growing amongst our Middle East clients.

We have an office in Saudi Arabia as well. We think that the main opportunities to grow our business are here in the Middle East. The customers here are appreciative of the fact that we offer enterprise solutions for process safety, which help them achieve their aims with regard to operational excellence.

How seriously does the Middle East take the issue of Process Safety, and does it invest enough in process safety technology?

Attending numerous conferences in the region has confirmed my belief that process safety is top of the list here.

We’ve heard some speeches from CEOs and presidents of some enormous companies, who are all telling us that process safety is top of their agenda. Really, you can’t afford for it not to be.

Companies cannot afford to fail to drive their process safety programmes.

In terms of finances, from what I’ve seen, process safety budgets are in good shape here.

Maintaining the equipment as well as maintaining process safety regimes all help to keep your assets working harder and working for longer.

What is the biggest single contributing factor in process safety incidents in the region?

Nearly all of the incidents that we have seen mentioned in recent conferences, and looking at the Marsh 100 Largest Losses report, most of the incidents concern loss of containment. Loss of containment, most of the time, is caused by process safety events, such as failing to monitor your corrosion, not letting people know what is happening in the plant, despite their being silos of information. That’s where we come in – we provide an enterprise software solution that allows those silos of information to be brought together and to be visible in one single place.

What is new about the product and which aspects of it are you most proud of?

We are proud of our barrier management facility which allows the ‘Swiss cheese’ or the ‘bow tie model’, the barriers that are affected by process safety deviations, to be seen in virtually real time. So that everyone can be aware if there is a relief valve which is out of service or there is a gas detector out of service in a particular area, then it is visible via our software.

If somebody needs to go and do some hot work in that particular area then it would be visible that they would need to take extra precautions. Our software helps do the risk assessment also.

What regional trends are you noticing in terms of process safety?

Yes, one of the big discussions that we are having in the Middle East at the moment is taking the idea process safety down to the front line operations and maintenance people. Instead of it just being with the engineers, the idea is to involve the operations and maintenance teams as well.

Training programmes are being put in place to give them the competencies to be able to recognise the risk in process safety.

At Petrotechnics we are proud of our ability to provide a solution that allows the close monitoring of process safety in any given facility. You only have to look at the Marsh 100 Largest Losses to see the devastation that can occur from the business interruption of process safety incidents.

Organisations do a fine job of analysing failures after an incident but Proscient allows us to think outside of the box and analyse barrier failures and take action before an incident occurs.

Read the full magazine here.

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