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Sonomatic Leads the Way with Collective Asset Integrity Management

07 June 2010

Operators and owners must always be confident that their assets can produce safely with active risk management, and this requires a balance between safety-critical issues and operational pressures.

As many North Sea assets now progressively deteriorate and are transferred, the fusion of old and new systems all too often generates conflicting priorities and reveals gaps in integrity.

There are single-source solutions, and Sonomatic has for example had great success implementing systems and practices provided by asset management peer groups such as PAS 55 from the Institute of Asset Management or the Health and Safety Executive's Asset Management Toolkit.

An alternative approach is for a collection of experts in their respective fields to combine their capabilities in the form of an alliance or joint venture. An example is the Expert Alliance ( — of which Sonomatic is a member — where key suppliers with complementary skills and a long track record of successful collaboration have joined forces to create a very strong and effective entity.

No single company can be at the leading edge of the full range of services. There are several reasons why:

Competence and ability to deliver within the many areas covered by a single contract depends on specialist knowledge and experience. Dilution of capability is inevitable when a single company attempts to provide the full range of services.

Different disciplines require different business models, management styles and cultures, particularly in respect of integrity management services, advanced engineering consultancy, and both conventional and specialist inspection services. These four areas differ fundamentally from one another, and the approach and culture appropriate for one can be debilitating when imposed on another.

A properly functioning alliance or JV provides the right environment for innovation and creativity on all levels. This ranges from, for example, in-house development of ‘smart' inspection technologies and applications to Non-Intrusive Inspection (NII) planning, data management tools and statistical analysis of pipework systems, all of which enhance and streamline asset management processes.

To achieve improvement in safety and integrity performance there needs to be a higher level of perception and understanding of risk by all involved. However, ownership of risk management remains in the hands of owners and operators and this represents a major challenge when assets are declining.

Here again there can be clear and tangible benefits to having routine functionality and long-term strategic/visionary direction in the hands of separate companies as part of an alliance.