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Research Network on Flexible Risk Assessment and Decision Science

Periodic Report Summary 1 - REFERENCE (Research Network on Flexible Risk Assessment and Decision Science)

The overall aim of this proposed exchange programme is to bring together an international team of researchers, with a wide variety of skills in order to develop a formal safety assessment framework with appropriate support models for application to marine, oil and gas, supply chain management, nuclear and transport areas. Life cycle safety of large complex engineering systems is investigated in terms of the design, manufacturing, installation, commissioning, operations and maintenance phases. A variety of appropriate subject topics such as uncertainty modelling, expert knowledge elicitation, human and organizational factors study, risk prediction, software tools, probabilistic risk estimation, cost-benefit modelling and multiple criteria decision making are investigated in the selected industrial sectors, using the expertise of the partners in the consortium.

Effective risk assessment is vital in design and operation of large engineering systems. Any decision has to be made through an effective risk assessment. However, in cases where there is a lack of reliable data or there are high uncertainties in data, it is not straightforward to conduct risk assessment. Novel flexible methods supported by software tools may provide useful solutions. This project makes significant contribution to knowledge through developing innovative and powerful models with which cost effective decisions can be made within the technical and economic constraints. The research outcomes produced in the project should significantly contribute to the reduction of risks in a number of industrial sectors and generate direct benefits to society through improved quality of life and less disruption to the public.

The findings of this research would not only attract a wide range of interests in the scientific community but also bring about economic advantages for both Europe and China since risk assessment-based decisions, which can be technical, economic or managerial ones, are increasingly used in industrial sectors. However, there are always challenges in conducting risk assessment largely due to uncertainties in data, caused by incompleteness, randomness and imprecision. Novel flexible models for data modelling, risk estimation, cost benefit analysis and decision making would be necessary. To do so, close collaboration between the European and Chinese partners is needed in order to share their experience, to develop novel tools and conduct case studies jointly. The new technology to be developed in this project will enable large engineering systems to be designed and operated in a cost-effective way. It can make the covered industrial sectors more sustainable through controlling risks within the economic constraints.

The project work increases the European research capacity in the vital and rapidly developing field of safety and risk assessment, and also maintains and enhances the EU’s leading position in the area.

The project has five partners (3 EU members, 1 AS member and 1 ICPC member) who have agreed for a program of extensive exchange of both experienced researchers (ERs) and early stage researchers (ESRs) during four years, in order to fully explore and exploit the complementary strengths and synergies within the consortium. The interdisciplinary nature of the proposed exchange programme offers a link for research and training of the involved ERs and ESRs in a collaborative academic environment. This enables to support and reinforce the collaborations amongst the participants and helps establish a long-term research collaboration.

During the first 24 months of the project, the following research work has been performed through the partnership by the consortium:

1. A formal safety assessment (FSA) framework has been investigated in detail with applications in the inland waterway, offshore and energy areas.
2. A hazard identification and data modelling approach has been developed.
3. Two novel flexible models for risk estimation and uncertainty treatment have been developed and demonstrated in inland ship operations and ship trajectory control.
4. Identification and modelling of Risk Control Options (RCOs)/Risk Control Measures (RCMs) has been investigated with particular reference to inland shipping, maritime piracy and port facilities.
5. Two novel models have been developed for decision making based on multiple criteria.
6. FSA case studies have been investigated in ship navigation, ship trajectory control, port security, inland shipping in the Yangtze River, and anti-collision for ships.

During the first 24 months the consortium has produced 13 technical papers and organised 5 workshop sessions through the partnership. The research has generated a huge impact on the understanding on how FSA can be effectively and efficiently used in the marine, oil and gas, transport, logistic chain and energy industries. The outcomes of the research provide useful advances on how significant hazards are identified and how their associated risks are estimated so as to take measures through a rational decision making process.