Book review - The SALVO Process

John Woodhouse’s guide, ‘Strategic assets, lifecycle value optimization’ relates how the EU Macro project gave birth to a software toolset and methodology for managing oil and gas mega projects.

The Salvo Process* (TSP) is a 160 page guide to ‘strategic assets, lifecycle value optimization.’ TSP reports findings of the EU-funded Salvo project whose partners hail from London Underground, Scottish Water, Sasol Synfuels and others. TSP’s author John Woodhouse of the eponymous Partnership (TWPL) started his career with Shell and Kvaerner Engineering which means that there is ample material of interest to oil and gas.

If you are wondering what exactly is meant by an ‘asset management,’ the ISO definition of ‘the realization of value from an asset’ may not help much. The strategic assets in question include large offshore oil and gas developments, refineries and such. The overarching aim of the process is to help keep plants running without accidents, as long and profitably as possible.

Salvo was a follow-on to an earlier EU project, the Macro (maintenance, cost/risk optimization) project (which involved Halliburton and Norske Shell) which produced notably the Asset performance tools (APT), a software package that was acquired by TWPL in 2008. TSP is largely an introduction to the TSP toolset and methodology.

Woodhouse is an experienced and opinionated author with a dim view of enterprise asset management (EAM) software and engineering data standards. ‘The whole subject of data, information and knowledge management is a mess for many organizations.’ ‘Some very expensive mistakes are made in the over-ambition and under-delivery of ‘solutions’ to the problem.’ The idea of an accurate, generic data standard is ‘naïve and counter productive.’

So how are Salvo and the APT different from classic EAM? The answer is that the approach combines hard data collection (where reasonable) with ‘softer’ inputs, obtained by ‘asking the right people the right questions.’ In some cases, ‘structured speculation and expert judgment can compensate for a lack of hard data.’

It turns out that ‘80% of asset management decisions’ can be taken based on information that is already available inside the organization. The APT toolset is a way of gathering and structuring such a combination of hard and soft information into more familiar representations of key performance indicators and return on investment.

There are a few examples of how the software and methodology are used. One shows how Salvo triggered ‘lateral thinking and risk mitigation options’ and allowed an aging control system to outlive its apparent useful life. Elsewhere, major and minor maintenance activity was re-jigged ‘with significant reductions in costs, downtime and risk.’

Notwithstanding the above, TSP would be greatly improved if it provided a decent case history of how the tools have been used on a major project. This would probably have made the book twice as long, but more than twice as useful. Having said that, as it is, TSP is a good read and a valuable contribution to the subject.

* The SALVO Process, ISBN 978-0-9563934-7-0.

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