The energy industry is entering into increasingly challenging environments. Deeper waters, more extreme temperatures and higher pressures are driving technology developments for new products to meet these needs. How do we define a process to design, produce, and qualify these products?
Other industries and organizations, like the Department of Defense (DoD), have been implementing a five-stage new product development (NPD) process for years and have valuable best practices to offer. In addition, new and developing standards from classification society DNV GL, which introduced its first pipeline code in 1976, and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) are adopting existing DoD specifications to use as guidance to develop and qualify new products.
While there are various engineering standards that address high-pressure, high-temperature (HPHT) equipment, none of these specifically address the combinations of challenges unique to the oil and gas industry. BSEE considers API 17 TR8 to be one of the best guiding documents for the construction of valves in HPHT applications. API 17 TR8, however, does not address all concerns associated with valve construction, either. BSEE and API guidelines currently identify HPHT wells as having a maximum rated working pressure greater than 15,000 psig and temperatures over 350°F (177°C). Current market demands are driving for the development of well equipment to 20,000 psig (subsea) and 30,000 psig (surface) with temperatures as high as 450°F (232°C).
Stage 1 – Material Solution Analysis
The first stage in the five-stage process is where the majority of the paper research and analysis takes place to determine the viability of a new project or the development of a new project.
This begins with collecting voice of the customer (VOC) data. During this process, the goal is to acquire tangible, quantifiable answers to produce profitable results. After this VOC is collected, the development team establishes technical opportunities that define the goals, end state, key performance indicators (KPIs) and key performance parameters (KPPs) of the project. This beginning helps establish a basis on which future successes can be evaluated and helps identify if/when a project needs to be put on hold or completely cancelled.
The next step is to perform a material solution analysis to assess the potential solutions. Part of this includes an analysis of alternatives (AoA) procedure to evaluate the effectiveness, suitability and total-cost-of-ownership associated with alternative solutions. During this process the technology readiness level (TRL), manufacturing readiness level (MRL), failure modes evaluation and critical analysis (FMECA), and risk are all evaluated.
A very important step, which is often overlooked, is conducting an FMECA. Performing an FMECA helps to identify types of failures and failure causes associated with the system, evaluates the effects a failure would have on performance, shows how to detect and fix the failure and how to reduce the risk of the failure taking place, either through procedures or system design. The FMECA is an important part of the risk management phase of the development process, which helps to apply resources to resolve a future, potential root cause and to help reduce the likelihood and consequence.
Stage 2 – Technology Maturation and Risk Reduction
The second stage of the process is identified as the technology maturation and risk reduction phase. The primary objective of this stage is to reduce the risks associated with the technology and to determine the appropriate set of technologies that will be integrated into the final system. There are many steps which must be completed in this phase, such as developing prototypes of the different system subsets, developing a test and evaluation plan, performing a more robust technology readiness assessment (TRA), and refining the KPPS and KPIs. All the hard work completed in this phase will be culminated in preliminary design review.
The TRA is a formal, systematic, metrics-based process that asses the maturity of critical hardware and software to be used in a system and assigns a TRL. This process focuses specifically on the technologies within the project that have major risks. Different organizations have specific requirements to identify the TRL ratings, but as a general rule, a TRL of zero (0) or one (1) identifies the very basic, unproved technology phase and nine indicates a proven technology. If the TRA determines the TRL is below three (3), a plan needs to be developed to determine the cost and time required to mature the technology.
Stage two also includes the testing and evaluation of the master plan, a systems engineering plan, and a programmatic environment, safety, and occupational health evaluation.
Stage 3 – Engineering and Manufacturing Development
During the engineering and manufacturing development phase, the system is designed and developed before entering into production. This includes the development of a system or increment of capability, complete system integration, the development of an affordable and executable manufacturing process, a complete system fabrication, and the testing and evaluation of the system.
Additionally, a manufacturing readiness level (MRL) should be conducted to assess the viability and current manufacturing technologies available to create the components once the system reaches a TRL of 5. MRLs are evaluated on a similar 1 to 10 scale, with 1 identifying that the basic manufacturing principles have been observed and reported and 10 indicating the full rate production has been demonstrated and lean production practices are already in place.
A critical design review evaluates the system’s design maturity to determine if the design is ready and if it should proceed to low-rate initial production.
Stage 3 also includes a test readiness review to ensure all KPIs, KPPs and FMECA risks will be evaluated by the proposed test plans, a functional configuration audit to examine the functional characteristics of the system and a production readiness review.
Stage 4 – Production and Deployment
After the material solution analysis, technology maturation and risk reduction, and after engineering and manufacturing development procedures have taken place, the project is ready to move into the production and deployment stage. This moves the technology into low-rate initial production before full-rate production and development. In low-rate initial production, a small quantity of initial articles will be built and used for testing, field trials and demonstration to validate that the system can meet the requirements defined in stage 1. At this point, the system has been proven to meet the users previously established KPIs and KPPs. Testing of these pieces is based on the test and evaluation master plan (TEMP), which was developed and refined in stage 2 and stage 3 to reduce the risks that were identified (in stage 1) when the FMECA was performed.
After all the testing has been completed and the system meets the user requirements, the manufacturing process is ramped-up to 80% of maximum capacity and enters into full-rate production. At this point, Kaizen and 6 Sigma activities continue, but the majority of the manufacturing problems have been resolved and a good manufacturing process has been established.
Stage 5 – Operations and Support
The final stage in the process is the operations and support phase. This is a sustaining phase that takes place after the product has been produced successfully. However, the planning for this stage begins in stage 2 (technology maturation and risk reduction) to ensure the proper support and resources exist to maintain the product.
- Subsea Production System Reliability and Technical Risk Management, API PR 17N, March 2009
- Risk Management Guide for DOD Acquisitions, 6th Edition, 2006
- Technology Readiness Assessment (TRA) Deskbook, July 2009
- Defense Acquisition Guidebook, 2013
- FMECA Report FLS Fate Valve & CM Actuator, Cameron, July 2013
- Manufacturing Readiness Level (MRL) Deskbook, May 2011
- Qualification of New Technology, DNV-RP-A203, July 2011