When initiation of new major assets are being scoped and planned, it’s vital to obtain input from operations and maintenance (O&M) teams on in-service requirements of the assets, or O&M risk complications and problems lasting as long as decades. So how do you plan for future operation and maintenance needs before an asset has even commenced its working life? Dr Zahra Jabiri, Operational Asset Assessments Manager for Western Power explains the process they have successfully adopted and provides some strategies and tips you can simply and easily adopt in your organisation.
It goes without saying that when an asset is installed, it should be in a good, healthy condition ready to start life in the field. That is, free of defects and fit for purpose. At this point, it is often assumed that the O&M teams will not have any impediments or issues managing the equipment in the future.
Managing an asset is a cradle-to-grave process, starting at the initial concept, through planning and design stages, and continuing to the asset use (O&M) and disposal. Usually with a 10% to 90 % ratio in asset life (10% of asset life is in pre-O&M stage and 90% in O&M).
Therefore it is vital in planning and design stage to recognise cradle to grave asset requirements, know what type of machinery and equipment are going to be used for operation and maintenance of the asset, what type of access is required to ensure worker safety, and optimise asset unavailability impact on the business. For example, the extent and duration of outage/shutdown required, is there an efficient connection point which can be accessed via a safe platform? Will the maintenance team have line of sight and the physical access necessary to tend to any emergency breakdowns?
Can the equipment be carried by one person, or does it require more resources?
Three Practical Tips
1) The 10% / 70% Rule
Design managers need to talk with maintenance managers at the outset, and see how they can work together as joint stakeholders. Consider a program where there is an operations/maintenance representative providing input to the design when the design is at early stage (approximately 10% through its design life), and again at 70% design completion. This ensures the opportunity to raise concerns at the most appropriate times. The 10% / 70% rule considers that if the review is done too early it’s probably not the right time; if they leave it to the end it can be difficult to change the design.
2) Get Demos and O&M Manuals from Manufacturers
This is ideal so operations and maintenance people can test products out. It’s a good way to raise awareness of some of the issues early on and the people who are going to look after this asset can ask the questions. For example:
- “How many people with what skill levels do we need to do maintenance?”
- “What type of tools do we need?”
- “Is there any need for additional training?”
- “Are the O&M manuals readable and easy to understand, supported with part numbers and photos?”
- “What are the spare maintenance and emergency parts?”
- “What are the ergonomic features of the asset i.e. how to make a piece of equipment lighter so it can be carried by one person instead of two?”
This is also an opportunity for the manufacturer to answer, investigate and also come with alternative solutions to meet the business needs upfront with usually no or less expensive cost to the business.
3) Improve Communication and Awareness
We need to be aware of the long-term impacts of the decisions that we make at the planning, design, or construction phase of the asset. It’s going to stay with the business for potentially decades so awareness of potential long-term impact is vital. The awareness can be promoted via proper feedback on constraints, challenges and opportunities observed in O&M of the asset, to up-front decision makers. For example, site meetings with people from design to listen to the challenges faced by the operations and maintenance people looking after the assets. Something as simple as the location of access and isolation points in a site, which can be changed to save the maintenance team hours every time they need access; or communication of paternal failures due to design implications.
Dr Zahra Jabiri is an Operational Asset Assessments Manager for Western Power (AUS) and past speaker at Mainstream Conference. Mainstream is a vibrant community where asset management leaders and teams come together to share knowledge, experience and innovation. Find out more about the conference here.
Image courtesy of Idea go at FreeDigitalPhotos.net