The majority of pipelines in the United States are at least 50 years old, with some 3,300 reported leaks and associated with 80 deaths and almost 400 injuries over the past five years. This is just one example of the need for improved asset integrity management in the oil and gas industry.
Asset integrity management, or AIM, is a plan for verifying that equipment is designed, installed and maintained in the proper ways to ensure its safe and effective functioning over the lifespan of an asset. Asset integrity management aims to reduce the risk of equipment failure, ensure the safety and reliability of its operation, secure associated data, maintain regulatory compliance, and generally optimize the lifespan and performance of assets.
Especially in critical and potentially combustible operations such as oil and gas, machinery, equipment and facilities must be inspected regularly to protect the safety of personnel working in and around them, as well as that of surrounding communities and dependent operations. New technologies like intrinsically safe tablets and IoT sensors can help.
Better asset management via mobile technology
Adoption of cloud-based asset performance management (APM) systems is helping to improve accuracy, efficiency and safety in oil and gas operations. Digital and IoT tools can be used to gather asset intelligence, which can inform better maintenance strategies and boost performance. Mobile asset maintenance applications are now enabling field technicians to manage all assets, even those in high-risk areas such as combustible oil and gas environments, through the use of mobile technologies.
When technicians can use the appropriate tools at the point of production – where combustible environments often require the use of intrinsically safe devices that are specifically designed for hazardous locations – their activities can be cloud-connected and, therefore, accessible in real-time, anytime and from anywhere. With certified tablets such as the aegex10 Intrinsically Safe Tablet, oil and gas maintenance and operations personnel can perform various asset integrity tasks, including:
- Completing digital forms for inspections and checklists
- Performing risk-based inspection (RBI) analysis of corrosion, pitting, misalignment, cracking or other wear of an asset
- Capturing photo and video data about assets
- Consulting digital manuals or other information
- Communicating with offsite experts and team members
- Ordering replacement parts or service
- Inventorying assets
- Accessing equipment design information, maintenance records and process safety management information
- Performing asset integrity data analysis onsite
- Recording data to cloud-based back office systems for compliance purposes
Digital APM records that are time-stamped and easily accessible enable various teams to use them, easing transition between shifts and syncing information among multiple maintenance personnel. Capturing asset integrity digitally also improves accuracy, versus recording data with pen and paper and then having to enter that data into digital systems offsite at a later time.
Seeing more with IoT
Intrinsically safe IoT sensors can also help organizations better understand the historic, current and future status of their oil and gas assets. By placing IoT sensors such as the NexVu IoT Solution throughout hazardous area operations, technicians are able to view real-time conditions surrounding assets, including temperature, humidity, pressure, gases, vibration, corrosion, etc. Viewed together over time, these factors can be indicators of potential asset failure and an asset’s fit-for-service condition.
When assets are in their early stages of life, IoT sensors can monitor operating conditions and help with scheduling regular warranty-based or time-based maintenance. In later stages of asset life, IoT sensors can look for anomalies in performance that may indicate a potential problem or warn of impending failure, thus assisting organizations to plan preventative maintenance or asset replacement (see the Figure 1 below).
With real-time cloud-based information, organizations can analyze asset integrity trends over time, predict which potential integrity issues may occur when and schedule maintenance accordingly, as well as help plan maintenance before an issue becomes a potential problem.
Keeping all personnel in hazardous area operations abreast of asset integrity trends and conditions in real time via intrinsically safe tablets enables teams to safely and efficiently identify, schedule and perform maintenance, ideally even before an asset begins to fail.
Realizing ROI with tech-supported asset integrity management
Oil and gas assets include heavy machinery and myriad parts operating together in large systems, so their damage or failure is typically extremely costly, and often, entire operations must be shut down in order to repair them. Shutdowns, turn-arounds and outages (STO) and even regular maintenance often require shutting down assets if technicians do not have the certified mobile devices they need to efficiently and safely perform inspections during operation.
Utilizing intrinsically safe mobile devices and IoT sensors to capture real-time data in oil and gas environments not only makes processes more efficient, but also saves time and money. Intrinsically safe tablets and IoT sensors enable organizations to predict and prevent or lessen potential asset integrity issues before they occur, thus mitigating risk and saving millions of dollars in averted downtime.
Instead of shutting down operations to complete asset integrity checks and maintenance, these processes can be performed with purpose-built intrinsically safe devices during regular operation, for enormous cost savings. Maintaining asset integrity becomes much simpler and more efficient with intrinsically safe technologies, facilitating safer and more productive oil and gas operations.
Let Aegex Technologies help you plan the most appropriate mobile and IoT strategies for managing asset integrity in your oil and gas operations. Contact us here.