There’s nothing more frustrating than spending a lot of capital on building a plant, only to find that it performs subpar.
You’ve come here because you’re required to do a RAM analysis on your newest capital project. Or maybe you’re here wondering -what am I truly going to gain by doing a life cycle risk or reliability modeling study on my current project?
Ultimately, you want to know if your plant or expansion is designed to deliver the target level of productivity. Wouldn’t it also be great to identify ways to reduce capital expenses while achieving productivity targets? A recent multi-billion dollar megaproject in the oil and gas industry saved over $100 million in capital by uncovering unnecessary storage tanks and redundancies designed into the process.
Is it too late to perform a reliability study on your project?In one example, a company found that they were not able to meet desired production targets but major construction was already underway. Through working with a reliability partner, they were able to identify this issue with a system model and create a workaround that did not require a change in current design.
Commissioning and start-ups are already costly and difficult. It may take six months to years, or worst case, the plant is never able to run at its intended capacity. System reliability modeling can alleviate many of these pains through creating a comprehensive model that takes into account almost anything you can think of -including weather effects! While most other reliability modeling and services oversimplify equipment or reliability by making a lot of assumptions to fill in the gap.
We’ll assume we have this spare part. We’ll assume this piece of equipment is always on at full capacity or off. We’ll assume that the raw material supply chain isn’t an issue. For a plant that can handle multiple products, we’ll just assume that all products are similar for the purpose of this model. Pretty soon you’re looking at a model that does not accurately predict the future performance of your plant.
Here are five steps to help you design your plant for optimum revenue using reliability modeling:
Define -Identify -Analyze and Assess-Validate -Quantify and Improve
Step 1: Define your objective or target
Are you building a new reactor or building a whole new site? Typically, the objective will be directly related to revenue -more specifically, designing for optimum revenue.
Step 2: Identify what KPI’s you will use to measure those targets
Key performance indicators that are typically used include:
Step 3: Analyze and assess the current design
At this step you will gather as much data as possible, including any factors that may impact desired objective. This may include operating logic, design configuration, supply chain options, multiple product flows, buffer tank storaging and, if applicable,variations of the weather on plant performance. You can then construct a model yourself or use outside expertise to help fill in any gaps or for the creation of your model.
Step 4: Validate your system or reliability model
You can run different scenarios in your model to ensure it behaves as expected. For example, if you identify a critical bottleneck at a buffer tank, adding another one will alleviate that bottleneck (as long as this was a big culprit) and this should be reflected in your model. Based on your judgment as a reliability expert, or otherwise hiring an outside expert who has built many of these models, you can determine when you are ready to comfortably use this model as a decision-making tool.
Step 5: Quantify benefits and improve the process design
With your newly constructed model, you can optimize for the previous identified KPI’s. You can predict plant availability with current design and how it might increase if you, for example, increased the capacity of a buffer storage tank. You could look to see what factors are causing the biggest areas of revenue loss in your plant -it is quantified in a way that will help you justify that change.
The buck stops here. It will forever change the way you see maintenance and reliability.
This system reliability model can continue to be used as a valuable tool for ongoing maintenance and reliability needs. Once you have this tool in your hands, it can be tweaked and updated as you get better data or continue to make improvements. It will help you quantify the return on investment for future capital improvement projects so you can continue to optimize the design throughout the full life cycle of your plant or site(s).
Your company needs you to bring them to a higher standard of optimizing the design, reliability, maintainability and performance of assets. If not you, then who will take the lead?