Simulation – A Great Tool for your Assets Integrity Management!


As the proverb says – ‘Prevention is better than cure,’ companies that proactively seek to prevent failure of equipment and assure its structural integrity win the battle against constant safety risks. Even though Design codes are used for manufacturing a component but prolonged operation result in deterioration. Should an equipment be allowed to continue if deteriorated? How long before the equipment fails? Due to economic factors, life extension of the components is preferred. Using simulation as a decision-making tool with the capability to perform virtual tests and scenario analysis, companies can reduce unplanned shutdowns and prevent any accidents during continued operation – a great way to assure fitness-for-service (FFS). Simulation consists of performing structural and fluid analysis using FEA and CFD tools.

USA oil refinery capacity was about 18.6 million barrels per day in 2016 with a history of one refinery shutdown per day. Around 50% were due to mechanical breakdowns and around 20% caused by incorrect maintenance action. History is replete with examples where proactive damage detection and in-depth analysis could have prevented great losses.

FFS are engineering evaluations performed to demonstrate the structural integrity of an in-service component containing a flaw or damage. It provides an estimate of remaining strength of equipment in its current state, which may have degraded while in-service from its original condition. This evaluation can be used to make a run-repair-replace decision for the plant operation and provides guidance for inspection interval.

With latest and greatest inspection tools and a robust integrity management program companies can understand the current degraded states of their assets and operating history better than ever before. However, unless those valuable data are used to simulate future operation with various ‘what if’ scenarios many times the decision-making process involves experience-based intuition which are often taken under the pressure to meet economic target. Such approach many times leads to false positive (no necessary corrective measures were taken which otherwise could have prevented a future failure) or sometimes false negative (an equipment is replaced/repaired which could have been in continued operation) decisions. Simulation gives an objective assessment, especially when the equipment works as part of a very complex system with many interacting factors.

Dassault Systèmes which includes software solutions such as Abaqus on 3DEXPERIENCE platform has a great value proposition in the simulation-driven FFS operation. The solution provides compelling benefits like integrated simulation, IP capture and reuse, and enhanced maintenance operation.


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By Pranitha Prabhakaran

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