Capturing the Reliability Prize – Leadership, Vision, & Commitment

Capturing the Reliability Prize – Leadership, Vision, & Commitment


Reliable operations is a key business objective for nearly every manufacturing plant due to global economic pressures and increasing Process Safety Management (PSM) requirements. Pacesetter sites that have been successful in achieving long-term reliability are characterized by Business Units empowered and accountable to meet their reliability targets. Structured work processes, with specialist support, provide the foundation for Business Unit Reliability Improvement Plans.   We find that sites that lack the organizational readiness and expertise languish in the 3rd or 4th quartile for reliability performance.

Becht Engineering Company subscribes to a holistic risk management philosophy through a Reliability Management System (RMS) that crosses all major departments at a facility. This approach separates us from our competitors who offer Risk-based Inspection (RBI) tools, which is only one element of the program. Experience indicates that programs such as ours comply with the intent of PSM regulations and drive efficiency in maintenance dollars. In fact, Oil Majors have identified significant “lost opportunity costs” from unplanned downtime in upstream and refining operations. RMS systems enabled them to minimize their lost opportunity costs.

Additionally, the skills and diversity of our available staff sets us apart from our competition.  We have over 800 advisors (SMEs), most with 25+ years of refining and production experience. Our equipment expertise covers Materials and Corrosion, Vessels, Machinery, Storage Tanks, Piping and Fired Heaters. A majority of these SMEs have held technical and leadership positions at operating facilities, providing a unique lens for addressing our client’s business objectives.  We provide engineering services from an Owner’s perspective.

A RMS consists of core and supplemental elements.  Core elements include:

  • Leadership and Organization – This element sets the expectations and demonstrates commitment by management, including basic staffing needed for RMS. 
  • Equipment Reliability Plans – The basis for a RMS is that through understanding the deterioration of equipment over a set timeframe and the consequence of that mechanism’s failure, a site can proactively develop a strategy to satisfactorily address the risk.  This holistic, structured methodology has shown to be more effective at improving the efficient use of site resources and maximizing asset availability than RBI tools alone because RBI only addresses failure of the pressure boundary and mitigation strategies are limited to inspection.
  • Risk-Based Work Selection (RBWS) – The application of RBWS enables quick capture of benefits by optimizing the discretionary work scope early in the TA planning cycle.  Pacesetter sites recognize the value of RBWS and use the methodology for routine maintenance prioritization as well. 

Supplemental elements in RMS can have exponential impact on reliability and cost savings.  These elements cross functional groups (Process, Mechanical & Technical) within the plant. They focus on main touchpoints with the process and equipment – proper design, proper operation, and proper maintenance.

  • Operator Tasks – A structured mindset on operator tasks, many of which sites currently implement, is recognized as a Best Practice to bring reliability focus to proper operation of equipment.  This element requires active and consistent Leadership participation in RMS.
  • Turnaround Planning and Execution – TAs are events which provide opportunities to improve run-lengths and meet reliability targets. Having robust TA Planning and Execution practices permits optimization of resources and Operating Expenses.
  • Quality Maintenance and Improvements – Quality work for design and maintenance focuses on performing work RIGHT. For maintenance, Quality Assurance (QA) of work performed by contractors is essential.  For design, Quality Control (QC) of vendor designs and recommendations has shown success.  Structuring these typical activities in a RMS drives improvement.
  • Condition Monitoring and Equipment Operating Envelopes (EOE) – This element fits into the “proper operation” philosophy from above. While the implementation may take significant investment to achieve the projected results, the benefits of having real-time data for controlling operating conditions has shown to be worth it.  When Leadership stewards EOE exceedances, it allows them to make proactive, real-time decisions with the knowledge of the potential accelerated equipment deterioration. 
  • Bad Actor Program – This element assists in identifying problem areas with solutions falling into any of the design, operation, or maintenance categories.  Developing the Key Performance Indicators  (KPIs), collecting and analyzing the data, and investigating causal factors requires significant technical experience and time.  However eliminating repeat or costly failures pays off exponentially as resources are shifted to other areas of the plant.
  • Reliability Implementation Tools – These tools help manage and execute the RMS efficiently, saving time and money.  They also minimize errors in the final work product.
  • System Improvement and Stewardship – Achieving pacesetter performance is only achievable through verifying the system’s health and analyzing areas for improvement.  This element is classified under Supplemental simply because its purpose is to enhance other elements.  However, it is extremely critical for a RMS sustainability and it conveys a powerful message of Leadership’s commitment.

Becht Engineering Company’s Reliability Services Department has experts who are knowledgeable of these element’s functions and interdependency; their strengths and their limitations. We have created core element tools to ease implementation and sustain the RMS.  Our people are experienced in analyzing the current work processes, identifying gaps, counselling on gap closure plans, training and providing direct technical support in order to develop the RMS that meets our client’s needs.  Partnering with Becht to build the right RMS is the first step toward capturing the reliability prize.

Have a question or would like more information?  You may post to this blog or click the link below for more help.

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About The Author

Joseph Salus has worked 15 years in the Petrochemical Industry serving clients across the globe.  Prior to joining Becht Engineering Reliability Group, Joseph worked in numerous technical positions across ExxonMobil Research & Engineering and ExxonMobil Refining & Supply companies.  His diverse ExxonMobil experience includes various levels of technical solutions, project management, work process coordination, and risk management.  His background in finance at Morgan Stanley and nuclear power in the U.S. Navy provide him a unique perspective for evaluating complex manufacturing situations.

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