Sep 2, 2020

Strategic maintenance saves costs long-term

Operators using a predictive, data-based approach [to maintenance] experience 36% less unplanned downtime than those with a reactive approach1. This was a finding by Baker Hughes, while Lloyd’s Register indicates that as much as 40% of maintenance work carried out by Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel operators is unnecessary2

Offshore installation and asset managers dealing with backlogs of maintenance work don’t find these statistics surprising because they know that some of the completed works were, in the end, redundant. These values add up over time, causing a staggering effect in the long-run - something that should be an eye-opener to the industry: 1% of unplanned downtime—or 3.65 downtime days per year—can cost organizations $5.037 million each year. Averaging just over 27 days of downtime each year, offshore oil and gas organizations experience $38 million in financial impacts from unplanned downtime. The cost for the worst performers can be upwards of $88 million3 according to a Kimberlite study.

The industry took note of the problem and is clearly looking for ways of improving the efficiency of operations. The majority of reductions in expenditure in the recent years owed much to a variety of measures, most notably, improvements in strategic planning, maintenance management and the application of new technologies according to Rystad Energy analysis3.

Reduction of downtime and efficient resource management are also crucial aspects to long-term cost-cutting strategies. Data based planning is increasingly effective with the use of modern IT software. One issue remains, however: conflicting data is often being entered into the software. Flag, class and country regulations and operator’s standards often do not overlap with OEMs guidelines which do not account for the ever-changing nature of offshore projects. OEM’s guidelines which are inadequate when projects are different from ‘the norm’ can cause difficulties and overspend. The costs add up during the lifetime of a project and the redundant work not only doesn’t improve the safety of the operations but it may also delay inspection & maintenance of equipment that actually requires it. The resource exhaustion multiplies with rising number of unexpected repairs and other ‘firefighting’ measures coming into play.

Improved equipment and operational philosophies coupled with the global cost-reduction requirements are leading many industry professionals to take a fresh look at their maintenance procedures as a way to lower operational costs.

Reflex Marine, as a global provider of essential logistics equipment, has always appreciated the importance of adapting the inspection & maintenance (I&M) guidelines to the true usage and needs of the offshore industry. Reflex Marine’s personnel transfer equipment is designed to last with many units still in service after 10+ years. Inspection & maintenance schedule, carefully developed, is crucial to ensuring safety of the device while at the same time ease of introducing the correct procedures into the operator’s standards.

The testing program that Reflex Marine use for their carriers was modelled on methods used in the automotive industry to ensure the equipment remains safe and effective in the hostile offshore environment. Philip Strong, CEO and Technical Director, described the process: “A modern car provides a secure environment that can protect passengers from impacts. A transfer device can do the same and guard against the human factors that contribute to the majority of incidents. Such verification is in essence, bio-mechanical, not just mechanical – in other words, it is not just necessary to understand the response of the device to certain load conditions, one must also understand the likely responses of the human body to the same loads. Bio-mechanical studies are based on statistical methods for analysing the responses associated with different physiologies, the long and the short and the tall, so to speak.”


User-focused solutions

Focusing on the client is at the core of Reflex Marine’s vision: prioritizing safety of passengers during transfer but also understanding the wider operational needs and the nature of offshore projects.

Procedures, pre-lift planning, communications and operational training can all play a significant role in reducing risks. Suppliers of marine equipment should apply their diverse global experience to help clients evaluate and mitigate risk relating to a wide range of operating scenarios by providing clients with knowledge, training and the ongoing support needed to use the product safely and efficiently. Reflex Marine has been sharing knowledge and best practices with clients around the world for over 25 years. Reflex Marine’s personnel transfer solutions are used by industry leaders such as MODEC, Equinor, Shell, and many more, who have keenly taken on board the recommended procedures. These industry leaders recognize the safety benefits of the highest-quality equipment and effectiveness of regular, relevant maintenance. The trust in Reflex Marine brand is reflected in feedback from customers, e.g. Olympic Shipping’s Captain about FROG-6 during a project in the Gulf of Mexico saying “As the master of the vessel, my concern will always be the safety of my crew. I am confident that every operation is performed safely and efficiently, knowing that we have a device that I can rely on 100 percent”.

Help with confidence

Reflex Marine is the only supplier of personnel crane transfer devices that has developed I&M standards and procedures to help operators use the equipment with confidence no matter where they are in the world. The I&M schedules have been developed based on an evaluation of risks, the environmental conditions and, most importantly, the stresses on the parts depending on usage (see example of I&M schedule). Similarly to the automotive industry, this means that equipment should be serviced as and when needed to ensure safety of the passengers. Reflex Marine make it an easy process for their units to be kept operational at all times, minimizing maintenance downtime of the projects. Trained technicians in Reflex Marine’s service centres around the world are available for both onshore and offshore work and spare parts are supplied with a lead time to dispatch of on average less than 5 working days. To further simplify the upkeep of this safety-critical equipment in the light of the global pandemic, the company has recently introduced an option of online training to crews around the world which can be conveniently delivered via a webinar. This is an important step towards the customers to help them ensure safety of crew transfers at all times in today’s challenging conditions.

WAVE-4 Inspection & Maintenance Schedule (User Manual Rev 1.0)WAVE-4 recommended Inspection & Maintenance schedule. 

Global clients, such as Total, who include information on personnel transfer carriers in their global lifting advice and use Reflex Marine carriers for crew transfer in their projects from Gulf of Mexico through Europe to Middle East, are diligent in their practice of servicing personnel transfer carriers and replacing the parts according to OEM recommendation. However, where complete procedures are not specified, there are still other companies which forgo this practice resolving to servicing only when issues occur. Victor Borges, Lloyd’s Register’s expert on FPSO maintenance optimization comments: “To break the cycle of ‘firefighting’, operators need to adopt a risk-based approach to maintenance, allowing them to cut unnecessary spend, free up resources and reduce the maintenance backlog. Understanding the balance between the cost of failure and the cost of maintenance can help operators focus the right resources on the right equipment at the right time”5. All offshore operators and contractors could benefit from implementing this advice.

Increased focus on cost-saving strategies during the global downturn in the offshore market has once again sparked hope for a shift in attitudes from ‘firefighting’ to employing measures for long-term structural benefits. Investing in durable and cost-effective equipment over cheaper alternatives, as well as more effective, data-driven maintenance strategies are recognized for the lasting gains they can deliver. The challenges of today shall ultimately help the industry improve.


... article was featured in WorldExpro September 2020