Entropy is a concept that most engineers encounter in thermodynamics. The concept of entropy is not easily grasped as compare to others that we learn such as Newton’s Law. The concept of heat & energy does not readily occur to us. Its easier to visualize objects in motion than enthalpy of a system. Nevertheless, the philosophy underlying entropy is simple and practical in our daily lives. In a nutshell, entropy is about a system gets disorderly. A system can represent anything in a real world. A system can be a human body, a house, a car etc etc. Each of these systems will become disorder if we do not take care of them. For example, a house will get dilapidated without regular cleaning & painting. Taking care of things is something that do naturally to preserve them and this we can do without having the awareness about entropy.
In the area of asset care, equipment & structures have to be maintained to ensure its integrity & reliability. Oil & gas facilities have rigorous maintenance programs in place to ensure assets are properly maintained & functioned. In high pressure & big volume processing plants typical in refinery & petrochemicals, failure is both dangerous & costly. Preventive maintenance can safeguard many costly incidents. Practices range from simple maintenance routines such as daily walking around to look, listen & feel to access the state of the plant to more sophisticated plant reliability programs. Data collection & analysis give predictive capability in detecting equipment potential problems. Necessary steps can be taken to correct the potential problems while there are still small & manageable. Planned maintenance are much preferred than reactive.
Pipeline is vital to oil & gas companies to transfer products miles & miles away. Intelligent pigging is an asset care program to ensure pipelines are in good shape. The term pig is said to be originated from the United States when there were used in crude oil pipeline cleaning. The screeching sounds these early pigs made earn its name as they travel crude oil pipelines doing cleaning and its dirtiness resembling pigs in farmyard. There is suggestion that PIG stands for Pipeline Inspection Gage. This term may be highly unlikely as early days pigs are used mainly for pipeline cleaning not as inspection & data collection tools.
The practical concept of entropy is aplenty to list down and the preceding paragraphs demonstrate just few real world applications of entropy in asset care management. A complex subject intimidating to learn has simple & profound applications.