Consultant, David Jesson, looks at the opportunities available to give your assets a meaningful and fulfilling life.
For the most part, asset integrity is about ensuring that what you’ve got continues to do what it’s supposed to do with the minimum of downtime, supervision, and maintenance. When you do have to take something out of service, you want it to be for the minimum of time, and you want to get back to business as usual as quickly as possible: the longer something is out of service, the longer it is either costing you money, or preventing you from making money, or – worst of all – both.
But... engineering is often about doing more with less, finding efficiencies and, where possible, making something better at its job and more resilient.
So, in the context of asset integrity, there are a number of opportunities that it is worth looking out for or, to put it another way, your asset only lives once, so what can we do to give it a meaningful and fulfilling life?
Firstly, is it worth replacing a part over there at the same time we’re making some repairs over here? The asset is going to be out of service anyway, and an extra day, or week, or however long now might save us a period of down time in the future. It’s going to depend on how much downtime we’re talking, and how much residual life this other part has, but it’s always worth asking the question.
Secondly, assets will have a design life, one that is usually decided upon right at the beginning of the project, before the design team even puts pen to paper. But such assets are expensive, and there is an inevitable desire to extend their lifespan, if it is possible and safe to do so. Frequently, this is absolutely possible, engineers being inherently cautious when it comes to factors of safety. But in refurbishing, should we just replace like for like, or should we be looking at how the state of the art has changed in the 25 years since the asset first came online?
Thirdly, assets rarely exist in splendid isolation: has the environment or system around the asset changed in such a way that new synergies are possible? Has a new technology come on the market that represents a new way of doing things? For example, if a new, cheap, lightweight solar panel has come onto the market, should we be looking to install as much as possible on urban roofing?
These are just a few examples of the opportunities available within asset integrity – if we keep our eyes and minds open.