Pipeline Operation & Maintenance: A Practical Approach, Second Edition
10 Pipeline System Operational Reliability/Availability Assessment
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Reliability can be defined as the measure of confidence in a given system to meet the desired purpose/function over a given time. It is a measure of dependability of the system. In the pipeline industry, establishment of reliability provides a level of service confidence (in % terms) in the pipeline to transport the intended fluid over a given time from the source of supply to the market area. Sometimes it is also defined as a measure of meeting all intended economic and technical parameters.
Reliability is also important to assess the performance of equipment used on the pipeline such as pump or compressor units, measurement equipment and even lower device levels (Vitale et al., 1982).
Often the meaning of capability, reliability, maintainability, availability, serviceability, risk and failure probability are interchanged and even more often misused. Many also believe that establishing probability of a failure in a pipeline is tantamount to establishing its reliability. Factors such as probability of failure are merely components that are considered an input to the equation when establishing the level of reliability. Establishing probability of a cause (say a failure) is merely a microscopic component of risk assessment, which provides input to bigger macroscopic model for establishing the reliability.