Collaborative operations and maintenance

How synchronized systems and processes deliver operations and maintenance benefits.

By Sheila Kennedy, contributing editor

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The operations and maintenance (O&M) organizations in industrial plants and utilities are under great pressure to deliver sustained, high-quality production in spite of an aging labor force, an influx of complex technologies, evolving regulations and best practices, strict operational commitments, and cost containment pressure from the C-suite. Their day-to-day decisions and actions directly influence the plant’s results and reputation.

These two organizations have a greater impact on the bottom line than any other departments. There is too much at stake for them to continually operate in silos. (Source: ARC Advisory Group)
These two organizations have a greater impact on the bottom line than any other departments. There is too much at stake for them to continually operate in silos. (Source: ARC Advisory Group)

 “These two organizations have a greater impact on the bottom line than any other departments,” says Paula Hollywood, senior analyst at ARC Advisory Group (www.arcweb.com). “There is too much at stake for them to continually operate in silos. They need to work hand in glove.” Sharing information from applications that are in each other’s domain provides the insight necessary for decision-making for the betterment of the entire organization, says Hollywood.

APM solutions provide a broader recognition of operational risks and liabilities, and the interdependencies in O&M activities. (Source: ARC Advisory Group)
APM solutions provide a broader recognition of operational risks and liabilities, and the interdependencies in O&M activities. (Source: ARC Advisory Group)

 Industrial plants that have taken steps to synchronize operations and maintenance are seeing benefits from their knowledge-sharing processes and technologies. MOL Group’s Danube Refinery in Hungary, the largest oil refinery in the group, adopted reliability-driven asset management practices and systems that enable close O&M interaction. Constellation Energy Nuclear Group (CENG), which operates three nuclear power plants in New York and Maryland, designed and implemented collaborative practices that follow industry standards and ensure regulatory compliance.

Bridge information islands

Sheila Kennedy is a professional freelance writer specializing in industrial and technical topics.Sheila Kennedy is a professional freelance writer specializing in industrial and technical topics. She established Additive Communications in 2003 to serve software, technology, and service providers in industries such as manufacturing and utilities, and became a contributing editor and Technology Toolbox columnist for Plant Services in 2004. Prior to Additive Communications, she had 11 years of experience implementing industrial information systems. Kennedy earned her B.S. at Purdue University and her MBA at the University of Phoenix. She can be reached at sheila@addcomm.com.

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“When people have access to the same information, in the right context, they collaborate more effectively,” says ARC’s Hollywood. She encourages organizations to adopt an asset performance management (APM) framework for sharing asset information because neglect in this area puts organizations at risk of operational, safety, and compliance violations, as well as cross-functional conflict.

APM systems align O&M with organizational goals. “They provide a broader recognition of operational risks and liabilities, and the interdependencies in O&M activities,” says Hollywood. “Sharing information across all APM stakeholders, whether internal or external to the organization, allows you to better manage issues that constrain performance and avoid the potential costs of non-compliance with new government regulations.”

Enterprise asset management (EAM/CMMS) systems are designed for manipulating data and may be used as an effective information repository for APM data, adds Hollywood. The systems are also important for their planning and scheduling capabilities. “Planning and scheduling work makes it more effective and efficient, and it’s what sets an APM program apart,” she says. “You can do it in a proactive mode instead of a reactive mode.”

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