Oil and Gas Offshore Fabric Maintenance

Here at SCM our target is to continually research and review the process of Integrity and Fabric management in all of its aspects, searching for better ways to ensure safety, production and regulatory conformance. One of the main drivers in these areas is cost management and, where possible, cost reductions.

Our product development team, here at SCM, have ‘knocked one out of the park’ with their latest innovation. After 6 months of design, development and fine tuning they are now shipping the new SafeMarkTM ‘Fabric Maintenance Markers’ to Clients on and offshore both in UK and overseas. They did some serious research before creating these new products, some of which highlighted areas where Facility and Fabric Managers could potentially realise cost reductions of up to 18% on a typical on or offshore process plant maintenance program.

The SafeMarkTM brand has been around for 20+ years; the first design has been in a process of continuous improvement all of that time, and is now probably the most effective form of Pipe Contents and Flow marking in the Oil and Gas, Food and Drink and Utilities industries. The system was designed to solve a specific problem; to increase safety and management of pipes, their contents and hazards associated with them. SafeMarkTM does this exceedingly well.

Now this latest innovation is, again solving specific challenges, in this case those faced by all Facility and Fabric Maintenance Managers:

“How can we effectively and safely, with minimised production intrusion and at least-cost, ensure the correct fabric maintenance is identified and completed?”

During design research for the Fabric Markers the team identified 4 very specific challenges that Fabric Maintenance projects ‘universally’ experience, which together can deplete a fabric maintenance budget by up to 18%. Based on the % figures any facility manager could likely work out potential savings for their own plant maintenance budgets.

For ease of explanation I’ve based them on a medium-sized fabric maintenance project of 5000m2 surface area:

  • In up to 5% of projects the ‘wrong pipework’ was identified for maintenance, which could equate to £225k investment lost to the budget.

But, in addition to the cost implications, working on the wrong pipe can have several potentially dangerous results;

If the pipe wrongly maintained has a requirement for containment or isolation, the potential for perforation and hence the hazard to personnel is huge. Imagine ‘grit-blasting’ a high pressure gas line that has a low wall thickness! Experience shows that perforations, chemical or gas releases occur in exactly this way. Any Permit-to-Work would obviously be voided and safety concerns significantly elevated.

Even where isolation and permits are not a concern, maintenance time will be lost to non-essential works and the value of any previous investment in corrosion protection coatings will be lost. In fact, for every year early a substrate is maintained (because it is wrongly maintained or using a poor decision process) approximately 15% of the cost of the previous maintenance investment is lost. So, maintain it 3 years too early and whatever the original cost of maintenance was – 45% of that investment has been thrown away.

  • Up to 10% of maintenance ‘overruns’ the anticipated (measured) area, this adds up to a ‘huge’ potential loss of £450k on our sample sized plant.

This is similar to maintaining the wrong pipe, maintenance overruns offer no immediate value, drain the active budgets and the overruns erode the value of any previous investment in corrosion protection coatings.

  • Where it is not clearly marked, up to 3% of pipes end up having the wrong corrosion protection (coatings) specification applied. The £135k potential loss here is small compared to the others mentioned, but in the current economic climate, can any facility afford to give that up?

This can, at best, mean early re-maintenance, and at worst, premature corrosion challenges, with pipe containment and isolation failures. In some cases a much more expensive coating specification may have been applied, therefore significantly ‘upping’ the loss factor even further.

Where incompatible materials are applied (new over old coatings for example) or if insulation then encases the coated surface, the potential for CUI or accelerated corrosion is increased 10 fold or more.

  • Up to 5% of pipe maintenance is ‘missed’ altogether, often associated with the wrong pipe being maintained, another £225k potential loss to the project. The works that were planned simply does not get done, but the costs remain!

The results in this instance are particularly dangerous; long-term corrosion challenges develop with potential corrosion failures likely! Not only might health and safety be compromised, but even where low pressure or inert materials are involved, the cost of facility production outages can easily dwarf the cost of the maintenance program in its entirety!

The maths is very simple: in the instance of our medium sized project, getting all of these factors right could either reduce a maintenance budget or increase its productivity by more than £1m, all at a lower cost than you probably pay to identify your pipe fabric maintenance requirements today.

Even more simply put; Fabric Maintenance Budget * 18% = the potential cost reduction effective Fabric Maintenance Marking could offer a facility management.

It’s easy to forget that all maintenance programs must deploy personnel to plan and mark the extents of the maintenance required, else the maintenance teams would not know what to do,  and perhaps the numbers mentioned above change dependent upon a facility size, its type and the format of your maintenance process and corrosion protection strategy, but …

 … the results speak for themselves.

Fabric Blog2

The SafeMarkTM Fabric Maintenance Markers are designed to support you in maximising your facility safety, production and cost control. The markers have a window where specific text can be written for permit IDs, specifications, instructions or any other pertinent information. Alternatively the markers can be fitted with waterproof adhesive labels that link (by barcode or Record ID) directly to the specific record in RISCmTM (Risk, Integrity and Strategic Corrosion Management) software. Adding a photo from RISCmTM to the label also helps when fitting the markers.

One last trick the team had up their sleeves, and I’m not sure how they achieved it, but they also managed to get the price point for the Fabric Markers absolutely right. They kept the cost of the markers to less than 25% of other ad-hoc marking methods, which I believe should increase their value to Plant Managers, Integrity Authorities and Fabric Maintenance Engineers enormously.

The feedback I have had from Clients so far is that the Fabric Markers are supporting them in the Cost Control, Safety, Production and  Personnel Management roles, yet costing less than any other ad-hoc method of marking they could adopt.

There is unlikely to be a more cost conscious method of managing corrosion, integrity and fabric maintenance, available anywhere, than the combined forces  of the Fabric Markers, RISCmTM and the 360integrityTM tools from SCM!

Thanks Guys – super job with these Fabric Markers. Congratulations on their success!!


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