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Article   |   Gordon Ellis   |   15.09.2022

Rethinking SECE reviews saves money

In the oil, gas and petrochemical sectors, business often fails to capitalise on the major advantages of assessing and auditing safety and environmentally critical elements (SECEs). More than a have-to-do, these activities are highly effective ways to continuously improve asset reliability and availability.

In its ‘Key Programme 3, Asset Integrity Programme’ report (KP3), the UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) identifies a common challenge for maintenance management: the industry is not effectively sharing good and best practice. Our SECE blog series plays a part in helping to address this issue, with our final article identifying a further area to optimise day-to-day operations.

We start with a simple field observation that SECE risk assessments and performance reviews are rarely carried out effectively. While there are a few reasons behind this issue, a lack of related quality data, an internal skills and knowledge gap, and an inadequate assignment of review responsibilities within an organisation are invariably at fault.

Sharing review learnings

  • It is important that any management system, and especially one for SECEs, is overseen by a part of an organisation that has no responsibility for the delivery of maintenance. Maintenance departments, however, should always participate in continuous reviews, with their ongoing feedback being actively encouraged.

  • All activities related to SECE assurance maintenance delivery should be monitored on an ongoing basis and be a subject at regular operations meetings, especially where disruptive tasks are involved.

  • Inevitably some assurance tasks, such as reviewing the performance of pressure safety valves (PSVs), will require plant or asset shutdowns. It is important to determine optimised test intervals when developing maintenance plans.

  • SECE registers and drawings should be updated throughout their lifecycle to document any modifications. Crucial information is often lost when personnel leave an organisation or assets change ownership.

  • Managing obsolescence is key to effectively ensuring greater reliability and availability of SECEs and should be built into reviews. Obsolescence results in higher SECE downtime and risk, as a plant or asset is under pressure to continue operations. A greater focus is also needed on degraded SECEs, with operational risk assessments (ORAs) the solution.

  • Organisations should encourage the sharing of insights and data from SECE reviews, and the use of key performance indicators. KPIs are a well-established way to flag performance trends and resource gaps to senior management teams.

People matter too

Beyond SECEs themselves, the technical competency of an organisation’s personnel is a fundamental factor. Each employee responsible for SECEs, in either a direct or supervisory role, should fully understand why the review is required, the safety function of items and the failure consequences. This way, staff will be able to quickly recognise an issue which may affect a SECE’s function. Personnel also need to be clear on what to do when a problem emerges, including following reporting procedures without delay. ‘KP3’ concluded that technical authority roles needed to be strengthened in many companies. We find time and time again that the most successful operations have SECE custodians.

Throughout this series, we’ve highlighted how good SECE management addresses risk, while also delivering significant returns through several operational and business benefits. These include reducing incident failures and unplanned shutdowns, enhancing production time,

saving on maintenance and inspection programmes, helping to avoid premature repair or replacement of SECEs, and meeting regulations efficiently. We agree with ‘KP3’ that ‘companies need to work better with verifiers using their collective skills and knowledge to aid improvement.’ Where this happens, the advantages are numerous and, for several SECE projects with our clients, we’ve seen initial savings finance further optimisation work.

If these insights and ideas have struck a chord, just get in touch with our team of SECE experts to find out more about how we can support you.

Vysus Group is a leading engineering and technical consultancy offering specialist asset performance, risk management and project management expertise across complex industrial assets, energy assets, the energy transition, rail and road.

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