Thickness monitoring is essential to maintaining healthy assets. On average, facilities waste up to 20% of their budget dedicated to thickness monitoring on either Condition Monitoring Locations (CMLs) that are incorrectly assigned or on CMLs that have redundant locations. As a result, facility leaders are often not very confident in their assets’ end of life or corrosion rate calculations.

As facilities continue to look for opportunities to reduce costs, one area they need to evaluate is their CML placement strategy. Facilities have the opportunity to reduce costs and increase the safety of their program by optimizing CMLs. The four major areas facilities may have the opportunity to reduce costs with CML optimization are:

    • Identifying the correct CML locations
    • Identifying the appropriate inspection methodology for each CML
    • Identifying the appropriate level of CML coverage per equipment or piping circuit
    • Ensuring all CMLs are effective and driving greater confidence in risk management decisions

While optimizing CMLs can help facilities reduce long-term costs, correctly identifying and optimizing CMLs is also crucial for safety compliance and risk mitigation for a facility. To build a strong CML strategy, facilities should complete the following steps:

Asset Reliability Assessment

An Asset Reliability Assessment (ARA) identifies the functions, failure modes, and failure mechanisms of a facility’s assets. For example, an ARA for a main flow pipe for a crude unit may list the function, the intended purpose of the asset, as preserving the fluid pressure boundary. Failure modes, how the asset can fail, may be external leak or wall crack. The failure mechanism, the factor that causes a failure mode to occur, could be the atmospheric corrosion the crude unit experienced. Conducting a deep dive on the data from the ARA to the CML level can help facilities identify the probability of failure curve for a single circuit, projecting a more accurate life value calculation. For more information on developing an ARA, watch our previous virtual event, Reduce Cost by Prioritizing Inspection and Maintenance Activities here.

CML Coverage

After the ARA and inspections are completed, facilities need to validate their data with industry standards. Facilities should always verify their data before beginning the CML optimization process. First, facilities should evaluate if their data validates their corrosion model. Next, facilities should evaluate whether they are experiencing general or localized degradation. Finally, facilities should evaluate whether they have potential monitoring redundancies or gaps to eliminate unnecessary readings.

CML Placement

As a starting point, facilities should evaluate four key areas when developing a CML placement strategy:

    • Asset characteristics: Are there any specific asset characteristics that differ from the industry standard? Different asset characteristics can affect the susceptibility to certain damage mechanisms.
    • Environment: Does the facility have a clear understanding of the types of processed fluids that are passing through their assets and how they change across their equipment?
    • Degradation: Does the facility have localized or general degradation? Knowing the type of degradation helps the facility identify the potential aspects of failure.
    • Physical limitations: Since facilities cannot physically inspect every aspect of their facility, how can that impact what’s happening in their assets?


After a CML placement strategy is created and executed, it’s important for facilities to evergreen those strategies. Performing inspections, updating their IDMS, and updating the ARA as close to real-time as possible will help facilities make quicker, better decisions for their assets.

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