Are we ready to go opeRA(M)tional?
Applying RAM analysis on different stages of a project lifecycle is beneficial – no question about that, but what are the benefits? Some of the subtle advantages for each stage are highlighted below:
The above figure is a useful summary of the wide range of applying RAM analysis at different stages. It points out, for example, that we can use RAM tools to investigate production forecasts. These aren’t the standard availability analyses performed when designing the plant, these are living estimations of production capacity versus customer demand and logistics capability. Why would any company NOT be taking advantage of simulators that can help with these aspects of operation, given the huge sums of money involved?
Historically, RAM analysis has been performed mostly during the FEED stage in order to optimise design configuration and support equipment selection. Still, lately, I can see a pretty strong move towards applying this methodology during the operational stage of an asset’s life
I have recently seen a presentation of a colleague in DNV stating that there are a considerable percentage of their projects being carried out during operational stage (80% during the FEED and 20% during operation of the asset) – a few years ago, this number would have been less than 10%.
However, are we as an industry ready to move towards implementing RAM analysis in the operational stage of an asset’s life?
Many questions arise from this approach; in my opinion some of these are:
- Do we have enough operational data?
- Do our senior managers understand that RAM analysis will not predict the actual time to failure but is a probabilistic analysis giving the analyst an understanding of when it is most likely to happen?
- Can we consolidate our models?
- Can we explain the results?
- Are the tools available ready to cope with new challenges during the operational stage?
- How comparable are our results with the industry standard?
There are companies in the forefront of implementing RAM analysis in different stages of an asset’s lifecycle. The understanding they gain from their analyses form a strong basis for the decision making process. Generally, I feel like there is underutilisation of RAM analysis within our industry, perhaps due to lack of awareness, or even misunderstanding of the basic concepts of RAM analysis, so I am pleased to see this increase in RAM analyses experienced by DNV GL advisory; and I hope the trend continues.