This is Part 2 of a multi-part series on “Managing a Decaying Industrial Utility System.” For the first article in this series, see Managing a Decaying Industrial Utility System.
The first step in a utility replacement program is securing funding to initiate the program and investigate the decaying utility system further. To do this, a business case is typically prepared, and a group of gatekeepers must approve a plan for next steps.
In some cases, a break in a utility system creates a ripple effect and triggers an emergency repair, property damage, environmental hazard and/or production outages. This single event can be enough to justify a study or program. In other cases, utility systems experience less acute failures, minor leaks are managed on a day-to-day basis, and a critical failure may be looming but has not yet occurred. In this situation, developing a return on investment for the utility system study or program can be more challenging since investing in these systems may not have an apparent return on investment and predicting future failures can be subjective. However, the risks must be communicated and understood by stakeholders with the goal to avoid a catastrophic failure from occurring.
Utility systems that are a part of or support life safety, such as fire water, are mandated by law to be operable and maintained. Building code, fire code, OSHA and other industry standards such as the American Petroleum Institute (API) standards are incorporated into law when referenced by the local authorities having jurisdiction (AHJ). Therefore, an outage of this type of system can indirectly require a production shutdown until the system can be restored.