Exploring Physical Asset Integrity Management in Plant Wellness Way EAM System-of-Reliability

PWW Enterprise Asset Management Methodology Tools and Techniques for Use in Operational Asset Integrity Management


The second-best physical asset integrity management strategy is to get ahead of risk and not have to react after something becomes a problem. Pro-actively identifying potential risks and assessing if they could become real, and by when, is second best because you live with the risks. Their consequential cost and likelihood of occurrence set the criticality and priority to action necessary controls. The best strategy? Lifetime risk elimination is the best asset integrity protection. Within the Plant Wellness Way EAM life cycle asset management methodology ‘toolkit’ are useful techniques well suited to use in an asset integrity assurance program.

Keywords: integrity management, physical asset integrity, asset integrity management, asset integrity assurance program, engineering asset integrity assessment, asset integrity maintenance

Top 3 EAM system insights this article helps you to appreciate:

    • The best protection against loss of operating asset integrity is to eliminate causes of risk.
    • Make the engineering design failure-free, and where it cannot, make the asset robust to risk.
    • In asset integrity assessment and management use techniques and tools that find every risk.

Asset integrity management and enterprise asset management (EAM) complement each other. EAM’s purpose is to optimize the value from the life cycle of physical assets. For asset integrity management it is to ensure failure-free plant and equipment operation. Both seek physical asset risk elimination and risk prevention. It is not surprising to find that many aspects of asset lifecycle management fit well with requisites for operational integrity management.

A successful asset integrity management program requires focus on two aspects of physical asset risk control: the pro-active, and the reactive.

  1. Being pro-active includes an asset integrity assessment of the engineering design to spot and stop future operational dangers and problems. Once installed, non-destructive testing of operational assets pro-actively finds degradation and defects of which you do not yet know.
  2. Reactive asset integrity risk reduction comes after finding an integrity risk. It requires effective solutions that eradicate budding problems, or hugely extend the time before becoming problems.

    In the Plant Wellness Way EAM System-of-Reliability approach to asset lifecycle management are techniques that help to successfully address both aspects of operating asset integrity.

    Pro-active Physical Asset Integrity Management

    Circled in the image below are the Plant Wellness Way EAM, PWW EAM, techniques with pro-active focus on elimination of risk, or mitigation down to an acceptable risk level.


    Table-Top Engineering Design Asset Integrity Assessment Techniques

    Asset integrity assessment of the engineering design aims to remove future risks and to prevent operational problems. A ‘table-top’ engineering integrity assessment is a risk review of the engineering design of a process, plant, and equipment.

    A. The equipment criticality analysis done in PWW EAM methodology to identify operating asset risk is directly applicable to table-top engineering asset integrity risk assessment. A PWWEAM risk criticality analysis matches the traditional HAZOP (Hazard and Operability Analysis) qualitative risk study of an engineering design, and in addition provides a means to gauge each risk for priority ranking.

    B. PWWEAM Physics of Failure Factor Analysis, POFFA, is a table-top investigation to identify microstructure failure causes of components in operating assets. Because POFFA looks at microstructure risks it is a powerful pro-active operating asset integrity risk identification tool for use during the engineering design.

    C. The 8 Lifecycle Questions Analysis asks designers to address the risks that will occur throughout the lifecycle of an asset. The elimination, or sure control, of risk is to be by the nature of the engineering design and not by use of standard operating procedures where human error can occur. The 8-lifecycle questions listed below discover what risks there are to a physical asset and where they come from. It is a simple and quick way to find and prevent future operational troubles through effective engineering design.

    Economic Justification Questions

    The answers to the two economic questions determine the requirement for a full analysis of the part. Where equipment risk is little and event frequency is economically low the default is to do run-to-failure and rectify the damage in a suitable timely manner. If the economics of the situation are unacceptable the analysis continues.

    1. Are the business wide consequences of a failure acceptable?

    2. Where failure is acceptable how frequently can it occur before being unacceptable?

    Physics of Failure Causes of Asset Integrity Loss Questions

    These three questions highlight the many causes and combinations of causes for physical asset failure. There are dozens, even hundreds, of possibilities to create risks to operating assets. The best protection against equipment failure is to eliminate the possibilities for parts to break.

    3. Can the microstructure get overstressed?

    4. Can the microstructure get fatigued?

    5. Can the microstructure get degraded?

    You factor component age into consideration through the growing risks it causes your operation. Plant and equipment parts accumulate stresses in their microstructure and ‘age’ resulting in decreased strength. Parts long in service have suffered more environmental degradation of their surfaces. Consequently, the frequency of repairs and associated maintenance costs rise, and the equipment becomes progressively unsafe to use. When reviewing and assessing the integrity of old assets compensate for the effects of degradation and stress by increasing the likelihood of failure of old components by a reasoned proportion based on the time in service and how careful its use and maintenance during operation. The maintenance work history is evidence of past repair frequency, and you need to raise that to correct for an increasingly aging asset, and the reliability culture present in the organization.

    Organisational Factors Questions in Asset Integrity Management

    Human error and weak business process design are the major categories in equipment failure. For whole-of-life protection you must prevent the mistakes due to people, and process design.

    6. Can human error cause a critical part to fail?

    7. Can business processes allow a critical part to fail?

    8. Can a design decision allow a critical part to fail?

    Operating Asset Integrity Assessment

    Integrity assessment of an operating asset confirms it is safe to use and will remain safe to operate for a prescribed period. Operational asset integrity assessment on plant and equipment uses non-destructive testing, NDT, and non-invasive inspection techniques to observe and gauge the extent of existing degradation and deformation.

    Where damage is unacceptable, or a looming failure indicated, then timely rectification and/or abatement is actioned to remove the risk or prevent it worsening.

    There are numerous commercially available non-destructive testing techniques. Some examples include inspections using ultrasonics, radiography, acoustic emissions, and eddy current. Their selection for assessing a particular asset’s integrity depends on their effectiveness at spotting the location and severity of all defects, and the operational impact and economics of their use.

    Reactive Physical Asset Integrity Management

    Compromised asset integrity requires an urgent commensurate response. The first task is to identify viable solutions to mitigate the risk—ideally to eliminate it, but at least to reduce it to an acceptable level for plant and equipment to keep operating.

    The Reliability Growth Cause Analysis, RGCA, technique from PWW EAM, used to identify effective solutions and actions to address risks and potential failures, is ideal for ascertaining “timely rectification and/or abatement” of operating asset integrity loss issues.

    The image under summarizes the PWW EAM System-of-Reliability approach to ensuring the least risk to operating assets and their lifetime integrity.



    Mike Sondalini
    PWW EAM System Consultants
    27 June 2022