What is a risk-based inspection: Definition, risk analysis, and implementation practice

What is Risk based inspection definition blog

Knowledge of potential threats to the integrity of equipment is a vital factor for safe operations. And risk-based inspection (RBI) methodology covers the best practices for achieving it. Let’s take a closer look at RBI and its benefits for traditional industries.

What is a risk-based inspection?

Risk-based inspection (RBI) is an inspection methodology based on the risk factors of equipment malfunction. It is a type of preventive approach that focuses on predicting and avoiding potential issues instead of reacting to failures. The goal of implementing RBI is to lower maintenance costs by prioritizing high-risk and valuable equipment.

The risk-based approach takes into account previous experiences, predictions, and the probability of failures. The assessment of risks and inspection schedules is where RBI differentiates from more traditional time-based inspection methods.

Risk based inspection terminology

There are two critical factors of risk analysis for RBI. First is the probability of failure (POF) assessment, through which the company evaluates the likelihood of failure due to damage, deterioration, or degradation. The second factor is a consequence of failure (COF). That represents how much it would cost if particular equipment or machinery breaks down.

The overall risk is then defined as the combination of these factors – probability and consequence.

Risk = probability of failure (POF) x consequence of failure (COF)

How does the RBI approach work?

In the first step of a risk-based approach, inspectors have to collect information about the organization’s equipment and machinery. They should focus on aspects like the type of potential damages, error frequency rate, or the place where malfunctions occur.

There are 3 basic approaches to data collection for RBI:

  • Qualitative
    Takes into consideration descriptive data based on the judgment and experience of inspectors
  • Quantitative
    Inspectors base their assessment on statistics and probability
  • Semi-quantitative
    Organization use both approaches (qualitative and quantitative) in risk analysis

In the next step, companies proceed with the risk analysis itself, taking the probability (POF) and consequence of failure into consideration. After this assessment, companies see which inventory can pose the highest financial and safety risks. Therefore, organizations can focus on these assets and flexibly adjust their inspection and maintenance plans.

The overall goal is to mitigate the number of critical failures by optimizing maintenance activities for high-risk equipment and saving resources on low-risk assets.

What are the benefits of risk-based inspections?

There are several advantages to risk-based inspections over reactive approaches:

  • Improving risk management by regular risk analysis assessments and its mitigation
  • Minimizing downtimes by preventing critical malfunctions
  • Saving money by deploying a more efficient inspection plan and reducing unplanned outages
  • Optimizing workforce resources by eliminating unnecessary inspections

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Where can you utilize risk-based inspections?

The definition of risk-based inspection methodology was developed and introduced by American Petroleum Institute (API). The organization published the base resource document for RBI in 2000 as API PUBL 580. It provides readers the basic guidelines for developing and implementing an RBI program.

In the API RP 581 documentation, API defines for which areas is the RBI methodology intended. It specifies quantitative procedures for fixed equipment in:

  • Refining
  • Petrochemical plants
  • Chemical process plant
  • Oil and gas production facilities

The principles focus on equipment like pressurized fixed equipment, pressure vessels, piping, tankage, pressure relief devices, and heat exchanger tube bundles.

American Petroleum Institute updated the documentation in 2008 and 2016. The most recent version – API RP 581 – contains over 1,000 technical changes compared to the previous version.

Thanks to the available resources, companies in the energy, oil and gas, or petroleum industries follow RBI principles. Outside of the American Petroleum Institute, the European Commission also published a report covering risk-based inspection and maintenance principles (RIMAP) for European companies. And UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) published their recommendations and best practices for risk-based inspection as well.

What are the advantages of using risk-based inspection software?

Implementation and handling of risk-based inspections is a complex process. The organization needs to keep information about numerous assets, past inspections, repairs, and technicians’ work orders. And they have to stay connected with the workers in the field.

That’s where a software solution for risk-based inspections has the edge over the standard pen and paper process.

With the right digital tools, operations managers can receive a complete overview of critical assets’ health in one place. Besides that, inspection software can also provide insights into team performance, KPI’s, asset maintenance plans, or incidents reports. The ability to access such information from mobile or tablet improves workers’ flexibility in the field and is essential for industries like oil and gas or energy.

More advantages of risk-based inspection software include:

  • Digital forms reducing the risk of failures thanks to real-time error check and instructions
  • Automatic updating of maintenance plans according to identified risks
  • Effective deployment of teams and individuals based on skill and location

Try Resco Inspections for your RBI

Risk-based inspections offer a way to achieve continuous optimization of work processes and eliminate downtimes. And software can play a crucial role in successful implementation of RBI best practices.

To ensure a smooth start, you can try Resco Inspections for free and see how it works for you. Besides the benefits already mentioned above, the solution offers full offline functionality and enables advanced customization for more flexibility not only during implementation. And you can also book a demo with us to discover various use cases and get answers to any additional questions.

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