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March 26, 2014

Bad Data Can Cost you Millions

If you ask a specific industry, like utilities, to list their top issues, they will probably include issues such as environmental and economic regulations, long-term investment climate, fuel and natural gas prices, physical and cyber security, and technology trends. But the issue of asset integrity management relating to reliability and aging infrastructure are increasingly showing up on the lineup that keep utilities managers up at night. A number of other critical industries, including oil and gas and power generation, will share these concerns and nightmares.

While the issues of data management might not show up on that list explicitly, the question of, "What do you know about your assets, and what should you know to increase reliability, prevent accidents, increase output, and align maintenance and equipment replacement investments?" has moved up the organizational ladder from operations managers to the executive suite.

Let us start with a definition. Asset Integrity Management Systems (AIMS) is a document outlining the ability of an asset to perform its required function effectively and efficiently whilst protecting health, safety, and the environment. Further, it is the means of ensuring that the people, systems, processes, and resources that deliver integrity are in place, in use, and will perform when required over the whole lifecycle of the asset.

An integrity management system should address the quality at every stage of the asset life cycle, from the design of new facilities, to maintenance management, and to decommissioning. Inspections, auditing/assurance, and overall quality processes are just some of the tools designed to make an integrity management system effective.

The AIMS should also endeavor to maintain the asset in a fit-for-service condition while extending its remaining life in the most reliable, safe, and cost-effective manner. The AIM programs (in the US) attempt to meet API-580, API-581, and PAS 55 requirements, as applicable. (However, local legal requirements may differ; please refer to a competent, experienced local professional for advice.)

The AIMS document will stipulate the requirements for subsequent integrity management plans. Asset integrity management improves plant reliability and safety whilst reducing unplanned maintenance and repair costs. But an asset integrity management system does not exist in isolation. In order to successfully implement an asset integrity management system in a dynamic operating environment, it is essential that all stakeholders have a consistent and a unified understanding of what the essentials of asset integrity are and how they can be applied in their day-to-day operations; yet, this is often cited as among the most significant challenges in achieving an integrity culture within an organization.

With modern field instrumentations, the amount of data being recorded keeps growing at exponential rates. Data from "smart" equipment adds to the data volumes. At the other end of the power line, emerging technologies from data appliances, to enterprise data warehouses, to data visualization architectures, to new modeling and simulation applications are being developed to handle the big data load.

But there is a problem in the middle of our information power line. We have a data leak somewhere. The data we can collect is having trouble getting to the advanced analytics applications. Users are having problems finding all of the data they need to make vital decisions. Model builders are having trouble integrating the volumes and varieties of data needed to fully describe the problem they are trying to solve. Managers are having problems getting the data about their operations to know where to intervene, where to invest, and when to let well enough alone.

The industry needs to take the same systems view of the lifecycle of information as they do the holistic view of power. Emphasis on issues like master data management, data quality, and data governance is a better way to manage your mission-critical asset information in a central location on an ongoing basis. Then, you can add to that solid data foundation the data access, reporting, and analytical tools that will provide the insight you need to run your business with the knowledge and confidence that you see the full picture.

But asset integrity management starts with good data as much as it depends on the right equipment and competent personnel. Bad, incomplete, inaccurate, out-of-date, data leads to bad decisions by operators, demand/supply managers, and facilities managers. Bad data can cost you millions.


Learn more Tuesday, April 1, 2014 at a webinar presented in partnership with Informatica.

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