Sustainable Petrochemical Company Expands Risk-Based Inspection Philosophy

PET is a major industrial polymer used to manufacture the polyester fibers used in clothing, plastic bottles, and much more. As such, it is the most widely recycled plastic in the world. As a global chemical company and producer of PET, Indorama Ventures Limited (IVL) has made sustainability a priority for over a decade, from energy and greenhouse gas reductions to increased renewable energy and recycling.

To illustrate, from 2011 to 2021, IVL collected over 72 billion post-consumer PET bottles for recycling, which prevented 1.6 million tons of plastic waste from going to landfill and reduced 2.4 million tons of carbon footprint in the product life cycle. And IVL is experimenting with recyclable plastics as part of a circular economy model. 

The company received the Asia Responsible Enterprise Awards 2022 for circular economy leadership, which recognized IVL’s successful PET Bottles Recycling to Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) Distribution project. Their medical-grade PPE suits — reusable and washable up to 20 times — are certified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

To bring sustainability home, IVL sought to maximize the efficiency of its plants through digital transformation by replacing data silos with a single data source that would revolutionize enterprise asset management (EAM). Taking digital transformation to the next level, IVL’s Oxides and Derivatives Division applied the concept to their risk-based inspection program at the Port Neches Operations (PNO) Facility.  

“Based on our rapid growth trajectory, we were looking for a solution that could scale and assist us in realizing maximum efficiencies in various business processes,” explains Joel Presley, PNO, inspection team leader. “Additionally, striving for continuous improvement, we were looking for a solution to take our existing mechanical integrity program and strategies and integrate them with our maintenance and business processes.”

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Making the expansion of risk-based philosophy a reality

“A critical work process for mechanical integrity is risk-based inspection, which allows us to prioritize asset inspection planning based on the consequence and likelihood of failure versus traditional time-based interval planning,” explains Adam Wallace, PNO RBI coordinator. 

Core challenges included complex and siloed business processes with a lot of customizations, out-of-sync data and processes, disparate and niche applications with inconsistent data and assets, and expensive and unsustainable data and risk management that lacked innovation and adaptability.

About four years ago, IVL expanded the use of risk acceptance at its PNO facility in Texas to establish next-inspection plans. By doing this, they could move away from the arbitrary inspection intervals prescribed by their previous software and use the efficiencies of the relative risk ranking process defined in American Petroleum Institute (API) 580.

“While this new practice helped us realize significant improvements in the inspection program, the software was incapable of automating the process, which meant that significant manual effort was required to run multiple what-if analyses to reach the conclusions needed,” adds Presley.

Instead of a holistic view, plant operators had to access data silos — outside of the EAM system — from disparate software solutions developed to manage inspection, maintenance, risk, pressure relief, safety instrumented systems, and other critical functions, like hazard and operability (HAZOP). This disparity could lead to minor or even catastrophic chemical releases.

“In 2020, our facility decided that we would be moving away from the previous software to the SAP Intelligent Asset Management with AsInt’s native SAP Risk Based Inspection and Inspection Database Management software solution,” says Joel Presley, IVL PNO.

During the implementation, it was clear the flexibility of the software made it possible to fully utilize the concepts of API-580 by automating IVL’s new, risk-based inspection strategies. Adam Wallace (IVL PNO) adds, “With AsInt/SAP, we can take it to the next step by integrating transitional risk evaluation to maximize the efficiency of the inspection program.”

Managing asset integrity on a scalable, sustainable platform

With the new platform linking inspection mitigation plans and maintenance workflows, IVL has reduced the IT cost of ownership by 30%. Plant operators have a holistic view of both the physical and virtual assets needed to address high-risk equipment in order to prevent, for example, a loss of containment. Productivity has quadrupled while maintaining the overall risk of the facility to approved levels, and both scalability and sustainability have been served. IVL expects ROI at the PNO facility to total 5 to 20 times the cost of implementation over the next five years.

Indorama Ventures was a finalist in the 2022 SAP Innovation Awards Program. Learn how they built the new integrated platform in their pitch deck.

Data Management