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5 ways new tech will improve anomaly and repair management

April 18, 2021 Reading time 6 min

If you operate within the oil and gas industry, you’ll naturally be aware of the problems and anomalies to pipework that temporary repairs can cause. There are, however, advancements in technology and software that are helping to improve anomaly and repair management.

What are the common problems with anomaly and repair management?

• There is an extended period of time between finding a defect and a solution.
• There is no clear transparency and leaks caused by anomalies are often lost in data.
• There are multiple anomaly registers in circulation and often they are worked on at the same time, which can make it difficult to track revision control.
• Spreadsheets managed by human employees are prone to error.
• There is often poor visibility and communication about repair scopes and temporary expiry dates of repairs.

Thankfully, emerging technological advancements are making it clear that these common problems will soon be a thing of the past. Below we explore 5 ways new technology will positively impact the management of anomalies and repairs, particularly anomalies and repairs that have been developed together.

1. Digitalisation

Digitising anomaly and repair management will eliminate the need for paper processes. Instead, smart tablets will provide live up-to-the-minute data for all employees to see. Digital anomaly management will resolve issues such as inefficient spreadsheet management and worries about revision control.

Digitalisation will be an essential building block on which the following 4 technological features can be built.

2. Automation

After digitalisation, the next step to harnessing new technology to eliminate common anomaly and repair problems is automation. Once certain processes are digitised on a cloud-based platform, it will be possible to link certain fields and processes together to enable automation.

For example, automated processes could include…

• Anomaly report data could be fed straight into an anomaly assessment template to generate automated results.
• Automated notifications could be used to improve the workflow of operations, ensuring the individuals required for the next tasks are notified on time with the data they require.
• Automated warning notifications for items approaching overdue status.
• Rectification action results feeding back in to automatically update RBI results.

Outside of the oil and gas industry, automation has proved itself to be a powerful tool that can improve the efficiency of a company. The combination of automation and cloud computing, however, has allowed automation to reach an even greater potential.

This potential can be applied to anomaly and repair management to help to reduce cycle times and give organisations breathing space to efficiently plan in and manage their campaigns.

3. Workflow tracking

New software can be used to address the current lack of transparency in anomaly and repair management through built-in workflow and activity tracking. With new transparency, organisations will be able to easily collaborate on anomalies and repairs and will be able to go as far as providing automatic notifications of required action.

Workflow tracking will only be possible if the anomaly and repair management processes are first digitised, allowing the tracking of the status of all activities to be done automatically. This will give organisations a real-time overview of their exact status:

• Anomaly raised
• Anomaly assessed
• Repair required
• Engineered design
• Repair installation
• Repair expiry
• Next inspection

By default, the tracker can also act as a built-in stage-gate process and will inform other team members of required actions based on their user configurations. This is another contributing factor that brings complete control and visibility to all processes and activities, including being able to demonstrate priorities to management and the subsequent implications of non-action.

Workflow tracking, therefore, has the potential to reduce or completely remove human error in data management and can bring an unprecedented level of rigour to the lifecycle management of anomalies and repairs. In addition, workflow tracking is extremely useful if you are being audited and need to demonstrate that your asset is in full control of its risk.

4. Collaboration

Collaboration throughout organisations has always a tricky process to balance. This is often because no two organisations are the same, as described by Jacob Morgan in a recent Forbes article. Morgan explains that collaboration is similar to a game of chess, in that there is an infinite number of moves and to become a master one must identify patterns and look for identifiable scenarios. The same approach can be applied to collaborative work.

By having processes and flow of work digitised, the strategic framework will already be established and in place. This is important because it answers the questions of “what has to be done?” and “how are we going to do it?”. Adding another layer of collaboration capability within this digital framework will create a successful collaborative organisation. The right framework will ensure that the correct people are feeding into processes at the right time, without being hindered by typical issues such as:

• Geographical location
• Reviewing outdated revisions
• Physical meetings
• Long email trails etc.

Instead, each person can directly open the specific activity they require and make updates, which will be instantly made available in the system to the wider organisation. This will remove the need for spreadsheet management and no activities will be able to be completed without the software technology, therefore removing issues such as multiple spreadsheets being in circulation and being worked on simultaneously.

Combined with additional features, such as the above workflow tracking system, organisations will now not only have unprecedented levels of control but also a built-in communication tool to utilise much more efficiently.

5. Visualisation

Through the successful implementation of the aforementioned features, the entire anomaly and temporary repair process will be:

• Digitised to ensure that no process (or spreadsheet) exists without the software.
• Enable the lifecycle to operate at its highest possible efficiency through automation.
• Tracked to ensure complete control over all activities and workflow.
• Ensure the required key individuals of the organisation are engaged and collaborating effectively.

The final building block on the technology roadmap to achieving full visibility and control of anomalies and temporary repairs is visualisation.

Digital twin technologies are rapidly emerging in this area and have huge potential to create exact replicas of a physical asset, at all levels i.e. component, asset, system and process level. However, for this to be truly effective, it is imperative that an organisation is able to feed the digital twin with the relevant information, data and status of every piece of equipment, or in this case anomalies and repairs. After all, the digital twin will only be able to show a visual representation of the information that it is fed, so if you do not feed it the correct information, you will not get the full picture painted.

The above tracking system is, therefore, essential in the effective implementation of a digital twin. By tracking the exact status of all anomalies and repairs, throughout the entirety of its lifecycle, it is, therefore, possible to show the full and accurate picture of anomalies and repairs and their integrity management. This will enable organisations to have full visibility across their whole campaign and that they are able to plan and communicate directly from the platform and take their anomaly and repair management to the next level with one software solution.