PM The ENTIRE Plant: The Value of the O&M Audits

Posted on April 17, 2003
Posted By: Jeffrey Fassett
Energy Asset Managers are under increasing pressure to maintain high availabilities and reliabilities, while keeping costs down. Proactive Maintenance, Predictive Maintenance, Reliability Centered Maintenance, or what ever they call it, is applied with varied success to help them in this endeavor. But performing oil samples, vibration analysis, and performance tests only touches on the mechanical and electrical aspects of the plant operation. There are other factors that can also affect plant availabilities and reliabilities. Softer issues. What if the PM, by whatever name, is not maintained and supported? What if technician training is not up to date? What if environmental procedures are not being supported and followed? What if OSHA records and mandated training are not maintained at the level mandated by regulation? What if plant managers are not doing the job for which they have been retained? When a plant manager is hired, his or her job is to tell the owners what a wonderful job he/she is doing in managing the project, and therefore has a vested interest in demonstrating that they are doing a better job than perhaps they truly are. How does a manager demonstrate to the owners that he/she is performing at peak efficiency? How does an owner ensure that they are getting what they pay for in a manager? The answer should be obvious, PM the entire project. Not just the mechanical and electrical equipment, not just by lube oil analysis and vibration monitoring, but by evaluating the entire Operations and Maintenance regime of the facility. This paper will present what is involved in an O&M audit, and discuss the benefits of performing a self-directed audit. The scope of an audit can vary and be tailored to meet the requirements of the owner or management of the facility, however, an audit with too narrow afocus can be counterproductive or a waste of time and money. An audit is generally performed by a one or two individuals, and a detailed audit can take up to one- (1) week on site, depending upon the size of the facility and the full scope of the evaluation This is followed by up to one week to analyze the information, score the audit and write a report. The initial audit should be followed up with a re-audit of trouble spots 6 months later. Shown below is some typical information that would be reviewed during the course of an audit. This would be coupled with site walk downs, interviews of plant staff, including administrative support staff and management, as well as O& M technicians. Each of the areas would then be scored, and presented to plant management, complete with recommendation.

In one plant, a complete audit was performed at the manager’s request. While in general, the plant scored very high in the technical aspects, and operational performance, some of the record keeping was not up to date. In particular EPA files were not being maintained and updated, and some of the files were not present. Having the auditor find this, rather than a regulatory agency, provides the plant management an opportunity to correct this shortcoming with out risk of reprisal. In another audit, it was discovered that with out plant manager’s knowledge, the maintenance staff had been pouring left over paint on the rocks behind the maintenance shop. Again, the auditor finding this type of incident, without regulatory agency oversight allowed the management an opportunity to train the maintenance group in the proper disposal techniques. In yet another incident, a large combined cycle power plant, while they had a fairly extensive PMP system, the auditor discovered that the technicians on site were not utilizing the maintenance software because they had not been properly trained in all aspects of the program. This not only provided owners and management with an inaccurate picture of maintenance effectiveness, but an expensive resource management software program that was only being utilized to a fraction of it’s capabilities. In summary, each of the examples above display simple yet prime examples of the benefits of a complete O&M audit program. A complete program can have significant long range improvements in plant availability, reliability and operability.

Authored By:
Mr. Fassett brings 17 years of industry experience to the EAB, representing coal fired power generation, coal gasification, petrochem and combustion turbine, (in simple cycle, combined cycle and cogeneration applications), having worked for Basin Electric Power Cooperative, Bismarck, ND, Mobay Chemical, Baytown, TX, and Destec Operating Company and their successors. Most recently, he founded IEM Energy Consulting, and Diamond Energy Operating Company, and has provided consulting services, litigation support services

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