API Risk-Based Inspection
Equipment reliability and the safe, efficient operation of aging infrastructure are key to profitability in the refining industry. Therefore, it's not surprising that more and more refiners are making Risk-Based Inspection (RBI) an integral part of their plant work process. RBI refocuses inspection dollars and critical related efforts where they're needed most, using risk as a basis for prioritizing and managing an in-service inspection program. This is accomplished by technology that considers the probability and resulting consequences of an undesirable event.
A relatively large percentage of risk in an operating plant is associated with a small percentage of the equipment items, and RBI permits the shift of inspection and maintenance resources to provide a higher level of coverage on the high-risk items and an appropriate effort on lower risk equipment. A potential benefit of a RBI program is to increase operating times and run lengths of process facilities while improving, or at least maintaining, the same level of risk. RBI helps plant maintenance personnel focus resources, target inspection dollars and control costs by factoring risk into inspection planning and management.
The Official RBI Technology and Software
The methodology and software developed by the American Petroleum Institute Joint Industry Project (API JIP) has become the industry standard for implementing RBI. API RBI is used in refineries worldwide, and most of the major multinational refiners are members of the API RBI User Group.
The API RBI JIP has made major advancements since the publication of the initial document, compiling a re-write of API 581 to capture new technology developed by the JIP. This second edition of API 581 provides a logical, step-by-step procedure that enables practitioners to better understand the methodology and clarifies the technology to facilitate an effective peer review. The 581 Recommended Practice is titled Risk-Based Inspection Technology to emphasize the fact that significant technology, including industry Best Practices, is required to effectively implement a RBI program. This second edition of API 581 presents the API RBI methodology in a 3-part volume:
- Part 1 – Inspection Planning Using API RBI Technology
- Part 2 – Determination of Probability of Failure in an API RBI Assessment
- Part 3 – Consequence Modeling in an API RBI
API RBI technology is thoroughly documented in API 581, available for purchase from the American Petroleum Institute.
API RBI software, which is maintained and updated by Equity, is a validation of API technology. This software is continually updated to API 581 as new technology is developed, standardized, and tested against API 581 for accuracy on an ongoing basis. The fact that the technology behind API RBI software is documented in the public domain is what differentiates API RBI from its competitors.
Various companies have developed qualitative RBI approaches that meet the requirements of API 580, a less rigorous standard than API 581, but most tend to be "black-box" or too subjective to consistently quantify risk and create a reproducible inspection planning process. The primary goal of API and Equity is sound technology that produces probability of failure, consequence of failure and risk values that can be trusted.
Integrated Risk Management
Equity’s approach to RBI also differs from other service providers in that it does not end with a RBI study. We believe that, optimally, RBI should be combined with Fitness-For-Service and Materials/Corrosion disciplines to manage mechanical integrity through the useful life of equipment. As equipment nears its “end of life” for RBI, our program upgrades analysis to more quantitative Fitness-For-Service (FFS) or materials evaluation. This facilitates decision-making on whether to replace the equipment in-kind, upgrade its design, or initiate new equipment.