The utility industry is in the midst of disruptions. Equipment is ageing. Experienced workers are transitioning out. Rate bases are depleting. Meanwhile, renewables are growing. With all of this as the backdrop, utilities still continue their mission to reduce costs, improve customer satisfaction, and navigate regulatory changes. Asset reliability is a cornerstone to minimising risks, growing earnings, and positively impacting safety.
Let’s consider how asset reliability indicators can help work towards achieving these favourable outcomes.
It’s important to keep track of asset health and the impact of maintenance procedures. In the U.S., most electric transmission and distribution lines were constructed in the 1950s and 1960s, and are well past their 50-year life expectancy.
This, even though the majority of the country’s more than 640,000 miles of high-voltage transmission are running at full capacity. Without focused attention on the equipment, more and longer power interruptions will become more frequent.
In fact, there are major utilities in New Zealand facing hefty Energy Commission fines for ill-maintained infrastructure that is not performing well.
Data integration drives productivity, reliability
Responsibility for reliability does not rest on the maintenance department alone. Establishing, measuring and reporting key performance indicators can give both operations and maintenance supervisors, as well as senior management, the tools they need to manage the entire organisation effectively.
With digital software aggregating and analysing data to create a collaborative asset intelligent environment, decision makers can establish current baselines of asset reliability and maintenance performance.
Drawing on insights not only from their own area of concern, but also data from other departments, they can make more informed choices when it comes to asset reliability. Breaking down the organisation silos also helps to improve productivity, safety, and budget performance too.
As Matt Croucher, Director of Demand Analytics at CPS Energy noted, “There is going to be value if people do use data in their own groups, but the full value comes from trying to develop use cases across the organisation. Connected data is always going to be more valuable to a utility than just big data that is siloed.”
Consistency matters too.
The advanced analytic tools to support situational awareness and data-driven action, rely on accurate, quality inputs. Expectations for inputting specific details into operations records, control systems, work order history, inventory systems, accounting systems, quality systems, time-payroll accounting and human resource system must be widespread. Plus, the processes that generate the data need to be standardised to enable accurate identification of trends or issues.
Indicators to target asset reliability
After establishing key performance indicators and educating all stakeholders about the importance of consistently accurate data, the next step is to define measurement targets for asset reliability.
Perhaps the organisation is currently on a monthly maintenance schedule and wants to work up to a weekly schedule. With collaborative asset intelligence, planners can dig into the processes involved and work through different approaches to determine how to reach the scheduling goal. As Life Cycle Engineering put it, “You must know where you are and where you want to go, or you may not recognize it when you get there.”
With ongoing analysis, maintenance requirements can be regularly refined to be most effective. The advanced analytics in the Lumada solutions platform can also help the utility better understand its asset indicators such as:
- Percentage of work orders requiring rework
- How many total resource hours were expended compared to scheduled estimated hours
- Percentage of planned maintenance
- What is total cost of maintenance compared to asset value
- Mean time to repair
- Amount of unscheduled maintenance related downtime (e.g. how long the crew has to wait for parts to arrive from another location)
These and other indicators can identify what time and quality losses are caused by improperly designed operations and maintenance. The intelligence and analytical tools also drive better decisions regarding work backlog, budget performance, and maintenance and schedule compliance.
Taking a look at timing, scope
Next, each job typically has a defined timeframe and scope of work, including resources to be used. If a disciplined approach is in place, the planner will be able to quickly identify any special considerations for job execution. Developing a disciplined approach to data inputs and standardising best practices will help to highlight any differences between planned and actual outcomes.
Instilling collaborative asset intelligence, incorporating analysis, and review using Lumada solutions in business practices helps drive ongoing improvement and asset uptime. For example, with the ability to dig into past work order timing and scope, the planner can anticipate the need for permits or a crane. Or outline the need for road signage to improve worker safety.
With established asset reliability indicators in place to support processes, the quality of work done, and safety can improve while minimising downtime and maintenance costs. With benchmarks and KPIs in place, the business can move away from reactive reliability initiatives to better achieve power stability goals.