Mon, 14/10/2019 - 11:33
Rutledge Group, through its three specialised divisions, continues to innovate and uplift the profile of HSE practices across industries such as oil and gas
Writer: Tom Wadlow | Project Manager: Tom Cullum
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill will forever be etched into the history of the oil and gas industry.
Caused by an explosion on the oil rig located in the Gulf of Mexico off the Louisiana coast, April 20, 2010 marked a sobering day for the sector as 11 workers lost their lives and 17 more were injured.
For Anne Joseph, CEO of Rutledge Group, an organisation focussed on providing a host of safety services and products to industries around the world, accidents like Deepwater Horizon highlight the paramount importance of unwavering commitment to sound HSE standards.
“Companies operating in the oil and energy sector operate in hazardous environments and as a result it is critical to pay attention to health, safety and environment practices,” she says.
“After major accidents like Piper Alpha and Deepwater Horizon, their importance has only increased over the years. Our belief is that the potential cost of loss of life can be greatly reduced by training and implementing better practices at work sites. We believe that even more can be done to raise awareness of the importance of health and safety procedures.”
Rutledge Group facilitates this through a number of its business segments, chiefly Rutledge Omni Services, Arise Global and Ready Oilfield Safety & Services.
Joseph became CEO of the enterprise in 2007, this having made the leap into the oil and gas space almost a decade earlier.
She recalls: “While working in the insurance industry, I became acquainted with the risks and rewards of different industries. In 1998, I saw an opportunity to build a company focused on providing quality safety services in the oil and gas industry, with application in petrochemical, shipping, fire and other industries.
“There was an increased emphasis on health and safety standards, and we believed we could create a leading platform to deliver those services. Together with likeminded business associates, we seized the opportunity and embarked on an exciting journey.”
For Joseph, two differentiating factors that stand Rutledge Group apart are its breadth of products and services and geographic reach covered by its four main entities.
The oldest business segment established in 1981, is today called Rutledge Omni Services.
Headquartered in Singapore, the division is focussed on providing quality safety services and products to many industries such as oilfield, shipping, fire and chemical. Armed with the Singapore Quality Class certification in 2017, an internationally benchmarked framework for business excellence, Rutledge is confident in its bid to win new ground and outdo itself in the years ahead.
It can serve almost any facility with the assurance of its international accreditations (including ISO, OHSAS, OPITO, IADC), and is one of the only Asian-based companies in its field with a strong domestic record and extensive international reach. Crucially, it holds an unblemished safety record.
“Our people make the difference,” Joseph says. “An energetic and enthusiastic team of individuals make up the core of management. Their technical competence combined with a strong sense of duty to customers make them the winners that blaze the trail for the Group. A bespoke training programme has yielded a highly skilled workforce that win us our sound reputation in the marketplace.”
Arise Global is another services-based business segment under the Rutledge Group banner.
The unit, based in Singapore with presence in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, UAE, Egypt and Kazakhstan, specialises in non-destructive testing for a range of industries, this being the branch of engineering concerned with all methods of detecting and evaluating flaws in materials.
Arise is a one-stop shop for customers looking to ensure the integrity and safe operation of their equipment.
It specialises in delivering these extensive inspection services using highly specialised equipment and techniques, including Acoustic Pulse Reflectometry for tube inspection, Acoustic Emission for online assessment of the integrity of tanks, piping and other structural equipment, and Long-Range Ultrasonic Testing for assessment of pipelines.
Corrosion Mapping is another technique used for a range of services such as tank shell inspections, pressure vessels and piping systems (without using scaffolding), while Pulsed Eddy Current and Magnetic Flux Leakage are used to respectively inspect insulated equipment and map tank floors.
These and many more techniques are within Arise’s capability. With the different capabilities it possesses, Arise is able to respond to complicated challenges faced by customers at their production, storage and distribution facilities, to ensure safe operation of customer assets and to avoid unexpected failures.
Arise is also the early adopter of patented APR technology, a novel tube inspection technology it owns. Specialised inspection products are researched and sold through an Arise subdivision called Talcyon.
Joseph adds: “The first product, APRIS, was launched in May 2018 and the R&D team is working on the second product, UPRIS. These are Acoustic and Ultrasonic Pulse Reflectometry solutions for tube inspections, an area of expertise where we own 11 patents.
“APRIS is currently used for inspection of heat exchangers, boilers, and multiple bend tubes using sound waves to quickly detect defects inside of tubes. UPRIS will provide a faster means to detect tubular integrity issues such as cracking to avoid costly unplanned shutdowns or accidents.
“We have interests expressed by a major manufacturer to explore development of our patented technology for quality control purposes and have another similar expression of interest by a manufacturer of twisted tubes. These interests are exciting as it demonstrates the relevance of the technology beyond maintenance in refineries, chemical plants and power plants.”
This emphasis on research leads Joseph to outline another strategic advantage of Rutledge Group.
Apart from the spread of products and services and geographic reach commanded by Rutledge Group’s portfolio of companies, a third key differentiator for Joseph is the willingness to adopt and embrace technology across the board.
“We are always on the lookout for an angle where we can make a difference,” Joseph says. “It is in our DNA. Just before the downturn in the oil and gas industry in 2016, Rutledge embarked on an ambitious endeavour to bring a new technology for a positioning solution to the mature oil and gas sector.
“What started as one solution has today resulted in two companies that have been hived off from Rutledge Omni Services. We have developed a positioning solution, software tools for distributed applications, and servers for harsh and hazardous conditions. These are housed in entirely new companies (Biqmind and LanternEdge).”
Another example of this tech-driven ethos comes from Arise and its ambition to supply customers with new technical solutions.
As well as the APRIS and UPRIS developments, Arise operates an Acoustic Emission technology Centre of Excellence in Singapore. The facility carries out studies on exploiting the capability of the technology in defect detection, characterisation and quantification, and also explores the use of the science in other applications.
It is constant innovation and research such as this that leaves Joseph optimistic about the future of HSE practices across industries such as oil and gas, the CEO adamant that the coming years will see technology take centre stage.
Outlining the company’s own ambition for the next small chapter in its story, she concludes: “There are many developments on the horizon, including establishing our positioning solution as a means to help us transcend to fields where H2S services are not required.
“Further, we will ensure the successful rollout of UPRIS and work with multinational corporations on new applications of our patented technologies, a process which I hope will see us become the global go-to provider of Acoustic Emission technology.
“This will help our companies to open up in new territories and ultimately expand the Rutledge Group.