Life-Cycle Engineering

Owners and operators of process plants, refineries, tanks and pipelines are being held accountable for the safety and environmental impacts of their assets. It is no longer acceptable to the public and other stakeholders for these assets to be designed, built, operated and abandoned without minimizing the effects on the environment and the stakeholders.

Life cycle engineering or the safety case approach has long been regulated in many parts of the world and even in countries where it is not regulation, there is pressure on owners to adopt these approaches. This is to ensure that the assets are designed and built with operation, maintenance and abandonment in mind, to ensure that they are safe to operate and abandon with minimal impact on their neighbours and the environment.

To be able to achieve this senior engineers and consultants are required to have a broad understanding of the impacts of the decisions made very early on in the design and construction phases, to ensure reliability, maintainability and operability are addressed, and ultimately that the assets can be safely decommissioned, abandoned and reclaimed.

The experienced senior engineers must work with the asset owners and operators as well as with the design engineers (mechanical, material, welding, structural, stress, process and many other discipline engineers) to ensure public and environmental safety is engineered into the design and that risks are maintained at levels as low as reasonably practical (ALARP).

Sound engineering as described above combined with operational excellence management systems will lead to safer assets and reduced impacts on the stakeholders and the environment. With fewer failures and reliability incidents companies can expect improved returns, financial as well as reputationally.

The saying that ‘failure is not an option’ was generally associated with the aerospace industry where failure would typically be catastrophic, however it is becoming apparent that this statement is becoming relevant to most industries. Whether you are involved with the energy, municipal, transportation and infrastructure, natural resources, utilities, and even the information technology and health industries, the companies that will be most successful will be those that aspire to failure not being an option.