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Updated: November 25, 2012 10:45 IST

Power utilities need integrated, asset lifecycle management solutions

THIRU VENGADAM
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THIRU VENGADAM
THIRU VENGADAM

Large, capital-intensive assets are the core of operations of power utilities, whether they are nuclear, hydel, thermal or alternative energy-based power generation projects, national or State transmission corporations or distribution companies. These utilities require integrated, scalable and reliable enterprise applications that can cover enterprise asset management, enterprise resources planning, and project-based procurement, fabrication, maintenance, etc.

A complete asset lifecycle management (ALM) solution covers all activities from initial facilities engineering and construction through daily operations and maintenance, all the way to decommissioning.

An asset lifecycle management approach brings those responsible for a plant’s design and construction together with those who will operate and maintain it. All stakeholders play off the ‘same sheet of music’ with a common set of consistent data.

It puts operations and maintenance on a common system that includes ties to real-time automation systems. It supports the various informational needs of a wide range of stakeholders. Document management brings structure and control to document-driven business processes.

Design and planning: Having all project data in one system during design, engineering and construction ensures owner-operators and EPCs work with current data. Transition to operations is smoother, with equipment data available from the start. While design work is accomplished by means of computer-aided design (CAD), the integrated application serves as the system of record for asset design, planning, data management and engineering change management, furnishing stakeholders with consistent, accurate information regarding asset infrastructure. The result is improved collaboration, decision-making and control of critical external suppliers. Construction projects are less risky and easier for owner-operators and EPCs to manage.

Project management: Project-based solutions deal with increasing size and scale of capital construction, whether plant or network construction or revamps. Automated collaboration with important sub-contractors and suppliers leads to optimised resource use. Risk management improves via a “review, evaluation and action” process that identifies issues. Scheduling capabilities manage time and resources. Contract cost controls record work progress and contract baseline revisions while managing payment activities.

Work and asset management: Better ways are needed to support collaboration among highly trained professionals, internal and external to your organisation.

For a comprehensive business view, utilities need asset management integrated with a financial or enterprise system. With equipment-monitoring advances, predictive maintenance and reliability-centred maintenance (RCM) bring structure to programmes and reduce cost. RCM include support for failure mode, and effects and criticality analyses.

Maintenance efforts are better directed and inventory control improves with tight integration between EAM and procurement. Capital is freed and earnings increased through supplier evaluation in combination with contract and inventory management. Contract management ensures service providers fulfil terms and conditions, meet service-level agreements and achieve committed cost savings.

Supply chain management: Integrated supply chain management of procurements, inventory and vendors means better availability of goods and services associated with forecasts of planned and unplanned work — during construction or revamp. Companies can benefit from multi-site agreements and common purchasing processes. Costs can be cut through reducing capital tied up in inventory. Securing the availability of spare parts optimises the supply chain.

Service provider management: Utilities increasingly use external service providers for labour and management services. To start, this trend focussed on peak-labour periods and special services during plant outages. The IT system can also manage third-party service providers as an integral part of the utility enterprise.

Process automation integration: Collaborative maintenance and operations efforts gain through process automation integration, including distributed control, supervisory control and geographic information systems, through platforms like OPC.

(The author is managing director, IFS Solutions Private Ltd.)

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