The new normal? Meeting service safety challenges with the Virtual FAT

The new normal? Meeting service safety challenges with the Virtual FAT

Posted: May 19, 2020

Angus Rodger, Abu Dhabi General Manager and Crystal John, Project Manager offer their insights into a recent virtual FAT, arguing that conducting the test via live video link offered several significant advantages, beyond ensuring coronavirus mandated social distancing.

It is no understatement to say that with the COVID-19 pandemic, these are unprecedented times. And with services constrained through a combination of restricted travel and social distancing, companies are working around the clock to find new and better ways to safely conduct business, all while maintaining the same high standards expected and required within the energy industry.

Proserv recently met this challenge, by conducting our first ever virtual factory acceptance test (FAT) using video conferencing technology. The FAT was the final stage for delivering safety-critical differential pressure pilot systems for use at a wellhead platform. Because the offshore platform window was very narrow, this had become an urgent requirement for our client.

Normally FATs are conducted on-site, with both the end user client and representatives from a certification body in attendance. By conducting the FAT via a live video conferencing link, this significantly reduced the number of Proserv employees and external parties physically exposed to the testing environment.

Moving beyond health and safety benefits

However, conducting the test via live video link offered several significant advantages, over and above these health and safety benefits. We discovered that the virtual FAT significantly increases the possibilities for engagement and documentation for these critical tests. Video conferencing allows any number of stakeholders to witness the activity remotely, with no restriction on the number of attendees, all while avoiding travel and its associated costs and time. It also means that certain stakeholders need only join for the part of the test that is relevant to them. Finally, it also ensures that the entire test is recorded, with that video included as part of the final report. The customer can then go back and refer to the video at any time, adding in a welcome extra level of scrutiny and accountability to our products and services.

This accountability was appreciated by the client, who went away very happy with the procedure and test results, and the process allowed the project to be completed on time. Moreover, they were particularly impressed with the measures that we took to ensure that everyone involved, internally and externally, were safe and protected.

The future of factory acceptance testing?

For Proserv, and indeed the industry as a whole, we could see this become the new normal for conducting FATs. However, we never want to lose the benefits of seeing our clients and partners face-to-face, welcoming them into our facilities to personally interact with the teams delivering their projects. We look forward to the days when we can do this again soon. Ultimately, virtual FATs could help pave the way for a safer, more efficient way of working. Until then, they will continue to enable us to meet the everyday challenges of delivering service excellence.

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