The Magazine for Underwater Professionals
Although considered a mandatory requirement within the industry, there is a growing concern that diving system FMECA assessments are not being carried out following the best industry practice, writes UK-based Namaka Subsea's managing director, Sandy Harper
Diving operations require organisation to ensure the safety of the divers and support personnel, which includes ensuring plant and equipment is fit for purpose, adequately maintained and operated as it was designed. This can be achieved by design, risk assessment, planned maintenance, inspection and testing, which can be captured during the process defined as failure modes effects and criticality analysis (FMECA).
The FMECA of a diving system shall assess the effects on different failure modes on the diving system operating equipment and, where required, the support vessel interfaces. The resultant quantification may highlight deficiencies in design, lack of redundancy and failure to maintain the recommended critical spares to ensure safe and efficient diving operations, with the emphasis being on diver’s/personnel safety.
The FMECA of a diving system should now be considered a mandatory requirement within the industry and is highlighted as such in the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP) Diving Recommended Practice Report No: 411, dated June 2008, and the International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) guidance note IMCA D024 Revision 2.
Guidance of how a diving system FMECA should be carried out is identified within IMCA guidance note IMCA D039, FMEA Guide for Diving Systems, dated November 2005.
IMCA D039 is intended to offer examples of a typical methodology used in specifying, performing and maintaining an FMECA for a diving system. The guide is also intended to offer examples of good practice to the FMECA practitioners and to provide references to other relevant documentation which may assist them in performing a diving system FMECA.
Diving System Assurance audits carried out by Namaka Subsea have identified a growing concern with the content of diving system FMECA assessments throughout the industry. The reason being, it has been observed that FMECA assessments are not being carried out following the best industry practice.
It would appear that the industry’s knowledge and experience of diving system FMECA assessments, as well as guidance for carrying out the assessment and how they should be managed post assessment, is limited.
Therefore, IMCA has assembled a work group to review and update IMCA D039 to ensure it is a more user-friendly guidance document that can be understood by all personnel involved in diving operations. It should also include a more in-depth guide as to the competence of the team tasked with carrying out the study.
The industry should now acknowledge that carrying out an FMECA is not a one-man job, but should be carried out by a competent team, all experienced within the disciplines required to provide technical and operational support of the diving system to be assessed.
To ensure FMECA assessments are carried out correctly, Namaka Subsea has developed a team of experienced technical/operational personnel to not only complete new FMECA assessments, but also carry out FMECA assessments on systems with current assessments in place which are deemed insufficient.
Namaka Subsea has taken the current methodology and process provided to the industry and developed it further. This will ensure the emphasis of the assessment is on diver’s/personnel safety and whether life support can be maintained.
The results have been very positive, with issues being uncovered on systems which had gone undetected in previous FMECA assessments and audits. With the further development of the current methodology and process, the assessment considers the failure modes of the systems both technically and operationally, which provides a diving system technical safety assessment.
To provide the industry with a better understanding of the FMECA process and methodology, Namaka Subsea has developed a one-day FMECA Awareness training course. The course is designed to provide awareness of the methodology and process of completing a diving system FMECA as well as guidance on how best to review current diving system FMECAs.
The course is made up of 16 modules, which are discussed in depth and contain essential information required to understand how an FMECA should be carried out. Furthermore, the course also identifies how to manage an FMECA upon completion and is aimed at all diving operational personnel.
A number of courses have now been facilitated at Namaka Subsea’s headquarters in Aberdeen and were well attended by key individuals from the UK diving industry. The feedback from the courses was very positive and all who attended agreed that the information provided would assist the industry to understand the process better.
Although further dates for the course will be scheduled throughout the year, Namaka Subsea has decided that it is imperative the information provided within the course be provided to the industry globally. Therefore, Namaka Subsea is offering a free download of the FMECA Awareness course notes on its website www.namakasubsea.com.