Asset Performance/Operational Excellence Track Overview |

Asset Performance/Operational Excellence Track Overview

September 212012
September 24-27, 2012
ISA Automation Week, Orlando, FL
Track Chair: John S. Mitchell
For decades, operating organizations have expended vast resources to improve operating efficiency. Manual, pneumatic process control yielded to electronic analog and digital computer control during the 1970s. From there, process optimizing algorithms replaced the board operator pacing along a long line of controllers tweaking setpoints in order to gain what he thought were ideal operating conditions. Technology in today’s control systems and control rooms resembles that of the early 1970s about as much as Curiosity, the Mars Rover, compares to Sputnik. Everything from objectives to expectations and the technology to make it all happen has improved by orders of magnitude!
Within industry, the path to greater efficiency has typically occurred on two separate paths. Process control advanced rapidly reaching today’s level of sophistication in approximately 25 years. Much of the improvement in process performance has occurred without an equivalent organizational commitment to improving the performance and efficiency of the physical assets (heat exchangers, rotating equipment, conveyors, etc.) on which production and production effectiveness is absolutely dependent. In many organizations, the physical plant is expected to perform; maintenance occurs when it does not. These organizations consider maintenance a service, a necessary evil and a cost to be controlled; certainly not a part of the core, profit making business.
Because of the functional division within most operating organizations, operations and maintenance are islands ruled by jealous kings, populated by antagonistic armies and separated by shark filled seas. In many cases, operations does not like maintenance, and the feelings are mutual. An ever-increasing operating tempo and cost of downtime cause greater friction between operations and maintenance. As a result, several initiatives have developed within the maintenance community to address the necessity for better performance and lower costs. Preventive Maintenance was introduced in the 1960s to reduce unexpected failures. Condition Based Maintenance (CBM, PdM) followed in the 1970s and was optimized by computerization at the end of the 1980s. CBM greatly improved efficiency by initiating maintenance activities based on actual condition rather than average lifetime or worse—catastrophic failure.
Inclusion of condition assessment information into process control and SCADA systems has extended the knowledge base and made operators more aware of production limiting mechanical condition. Open architecture has made the transmission, storage, and use of condition information more efficient. Additional practices—Reliability Centered Maintenance is one example—were introduced in the 1990s to assure failure modes were systematically identified and addressed by timely maintenance activities.
Asset Management, Asset Performance Management, and derivatives came on the scene beginning in the late 1990s. These combined a maintenance strategy with optimizing practices and an administrative governing structure. ISO 55000 will be introduced within the next few years formalizing this concept.
In the decade or so since its introduction, efforts to implement Asset Management have met with varying levels of success. The primary challenge being the functional barrier between operations and maintenance where, in many cases, the performance of operations and maintenance are judged with conflicting metrics—for one to win, the other loses.
Recognizing the necessity to work cooperatively across functional barriers, the concept of Operational Excellence is rising brightly on the horizon. Rather than replacing successful practices and programs, Operational Excellence knits them into a larger tapestry constructed around the overall business strategy and centered on multi-function improvement teams directed to safely improve value, reduce risk. Optimally led by a production manager, Operational Excellence action teams assemble the experience and skills necessary to identify, analyze, and value prioritize opportunities for improvement, develop and implement improvement plans. Operational Excellence is driven by value and effectiveness. It is very similar to safety in terms of individual and organizational commitment across functional lines. Equally important, Operational Excellence demands continuous improvement and sustains results.
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