The pipeline industry is continuing to embrace the core elements of API RP 1173 (Pipeline Safety Management Systems / Pipeline SMS) to improve pipeline safety outcomes. However, the industry still lacks maturity in certain areas.
That’s why pipeline leaders are continuing to emphasize Pipeline SMS during industry gatherings. Specifically, Pipeline SMS was one of the key points of emphasis during the 2022 AGA Operations Section Fall Committee Meetings & Related Events on September 12-16, 2022, in California.
During the AGA conference, a two-day PSMS workshop was held to discuss the current state of PSMS, the gaps that need to be closed, and how to use the tenets of API 1173 better to advance Pipeline SMS.
At P.I. Confluence (PIC), we believe in focusing on one of the core elements of API 1173 at a time. This blog’s topic is management review and continuous improvement. Focusing on this area and using metrics to support improvement will help operators take the next step on their PSMS journey.
API RP 1173: The Importance of Management Review and Continuous Improvement
The API RP 1173 framework includes 10 essential elements that support the systematic management of safety-related activities in pipeline operations.
- Leadership and Management Commitment
- Stakeholder Engagement
- Risk Management
- Operational Controls
- Incident investigation, Evaluation, and Lessons Learned
- Safety Assurance
- Management Review and Continuous Improvement
- Emergency Preparedness and Response
- Competence, Awareness, and Training
- Documentation and Record-keeping
But, one of the most underutilized items on the list is the seventh core element, which is management review and continuous improvement. This is essentially the “Act” in the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle (PDCA cycle).
Appropriately, one of the topics of discussion during the AGA Fall committee meetings was management of change (MOCs) and corrective actions. This is because operators have traditionally focused on Planning and Doing, but not necessarily Checking and Acting.
You can see why this is the case when looking at the breakdown of what the industry put together in the API 1173 framework:
- Plan: 543 references
- Do: 779 references
- Check: 383 references
- Act: only 238 references
It’s no wonder the industry lacks maturity around management review and continuous improvement – or “Acting on the Check” in the PDCA cycle. Fortunately, the industry is taking notice of the need to close gaps and use the entire framework, not just rely on the most prominent elements.
One of the ways to realize positive change is using metrics to support continuous improvement.
How Metrics Can Support Continuous Improvement
The challenge for many pipeline operators is understanding how to utilize metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to support MOCs and achieve continuous improvement.
Management may have access to certain metrics such as the number of incidents during a particular month, but they may not have access to specific details about the cause of each incident, the assets that were affected, the people involved in the incident, the contributing factors, and the corrective actions that were taken (if any). Therefore, there are difficulties in driving change.
Or, operations may lack a system to gather, organize, track, manage, and utilize feedback from the boots-on-the-ground personnel who are seeing safety issues. Without a system in place, management cannot track whether the feedback was utilized correctly to drive toward improvements to reduce the risk of a safety incident.
For example, let’s say that your operation received feedback about 12 disparate safety issues during a given month. You should have a system in place to capture and report the following:
- Who followed up on each piece of feedback?
- What communication was gathered from the person who submitted the feedback?
- Was the feedback routed to the appropriate manager to follow up?
- How many safety issues were resolved during the month?
- How many safety issues still need to be resolved?
- What was the resolution for each safety issue?
- What was communicated back to the person who reported each safety incident to keep them in the loop on the path to resolution?
- What changes were implemented as a result of the original feedback? (i.e. Acting on the Check.)
- What are the specific results of implementing the change?
- What actions are you taking to keep the PDCA cycle going?
Utilizing metrics and KPIs can help you track your operation’s maturity in the area of management review and continuous improvement. You’ll be able to see from month to month, quarter to quarter, and year to year how your operation improved.
Without metrics and KPIs, you are simply guessing. With access to data, you can actually measure what needs to improve and the results of implementing corrective actions. This will place you on the right path toward realizing positive safety outcomes.
Find Solutions for API RP 1173 on Your Pipeline SMS Journey
P.I. Confluence offers a suite of software tools that enable operators to support the full PDCA Cycle that is embedded in Pipeline SMS.
Specific to the core element of management review and continuous improvement, our ProgramMgr software suite enables operators to execute the Act, optimize communication, and use metrics to determine if your operation is seeing desired safety improvement.
- ICAM (Integrated Compliance Activity Management): supports management of change, enables recordkeeping, tracks implementation of program activities, and enables operators to perform process evaluations to support continuous improvement.
- pSEc (Program Stakeholder Engagement Communications): enables operators to track information exchange with stakeholders, uses metrics and KPIs to capture safety observations, and provides direction for continuous improvement.
In tandem, ICAM and pSEc provide operators with the tools they need to advance their Pipeline Safety Management System.
– Following the AGA Fall 2022 conference, Pipeline SMS should be a focal point for pipeline operators. No matter where your operation is on your PSMS journey, we can provide a solution to help you advance your capabilities.
Contact us today to schedule a PSMS consultation or a no-obligation demo of our ProgramMgr software tools. We’re ready to discuss how your operation can take the next steps with API RP 1173 to support safety.