Systems Engineering

GATE Advances in the Hot Firm Rankings

GATE has been awarded joint 3rd place the prestigious ZweigWhite Hot Firm Competition for the 2010 to 2013 period. Hot Firm is a competition that ranks the top 100 engineering, consulting and architecture companies in the US in terms of their growth over the previous three years. The rankings identify firms that have outperformed the economy and competitors to become leaders in their chosen fields. This is evaluated as a function of percentage and dollar growth to normalize across smaller and larger companies.

SPE 141982 - Stream-based HAZOP - A More Effective HAZOP Method

Abstract 2011, H.J. Duhon

The Hazard and Operability Study (HAZOP) is probably the most commonly applied process hazard analysis method. As such, HAZOPs are a very important tool for improvement of process safety. But HAZOPs are not as effective as they should be. Duhon and Sutton (SPE 120735, 2010) identified many reasons why we don’t learn all we should from HAZOPs. These insights suggest a path towards a more effective HAZOP process.

The process described here differs from the standard HAZOP process in several important ways. The most important difference is the definition of stream-based nodes rather than equipment-based nodes. In a stream-based node, a stream is followed from its inception to its logical conclusion. This is especially useful when considering flow deviations, because a flow disruption in any part of the stream affects all parts or at least all downstream parts of the stream. These stream-based nodes are much larger than typical equipment-based nodes and hence overcome the tendency of HAZOPs to create tunnel vision.

HAZOPs are supposed to evaluate operability, but that can’t be done effectively without reviewing the operating procedures or at least discussing how the system will be operated. There is no point in a typical HAZOP, because small nodes are selected, in which the procedures can be effectively introduced. Stream-based nodes provide a natural bridge to the procedures. High level operating procedures can be introduced during the stream-based node discussion providing an opportunity to do a Process HAZOP and a Procedure HAZOP simultaneously. A Procedure HAZOP often provides more insight than the Process HAZOP.

Source: SPE Americas E&P Health, Safety, Security, and Environmental Conference, 21-23 March 2011, Houston, Texas, USA

Copyright 2011. Society of Petroleum Engineers

SPE 120735 - Why We Don't Learn All We Should From HAZOPs

2010 Summary, Howard J. Duhon, SPE, GATE, and Ian Sutton, AMEC Paragon

During the last 15 years, the process industries have made dramatic improvements in occupational safety. Recordable injury rates have dropped by close to an order of magnitude (Pitlblado 2008). Accurate information pertaining to progress in process safety in the same time period is not available. However, it is likely that improvements in process safety are not nearly so great (Sutton 2010).

From its beginnings in the late 1980s and early 1990s, hazards analysis has been a key item in all process safety programs. After all, if hazards are not identified, they cannot be remediated. Of the various hazards-analysis techniques, the Hazard and Operability Method (HAZOP) has probably gained the greatest acceptance. Therefore, if the process industries are to achieve the same levels of success in process safety as they have in occupational-safety improvements, the effective use of HAZOPs is probably going to be of central importance.

This paper discusses some of the cognitive, social, organizational, and procedural factors that limit the effectiveness of projects in general and of HAZOPs in particular. From this discussion, insights can be developed that can provide ideas for improving the HAZOP process and process-safety-management systems in general.

Source: SPE Projects, Facilities & Construction, Volume 5, Number 2, June  2010


SPE 110211 - Why It Is Difficult To Learn Lessons: Insights from Decision Theory and Cognitive Science

2008 Summary, H.J. Duhon, SPE, and J.S. Elias, Gibson Applied Technology and Engineering

Though engineers and managers routinely express the desire to learn from previous project experience, we typically do not learn effectively from our projects. The failure to learn valid and valuable lessons from project experiences can be attributed to a number of cognitive and social factors.

Fortunately, a great deal of literature in the fields of decision theory and cognitive science is relevant to the subject. Unfortunately, much of this literature is unknown to most practicing engineers. This paper presents a structured method for identifying learning limits, an introduction to current thinking in areas of knowledge required to implement the method, a summary of the results of applying of the method, and suggestions for improving our ability to learn from project experiences.

Source: SPE Projects, Facilities & Construction, Volume 3, Number 3, September  2008

Copyright 2008. Society of Petroleum Engineers