The Journey to Operational Excellence Begins with Risk Management

The Journey to Operational Excellence Begins with Risk Management

Ivara Corporation, a leading supplier of asset performance management software solutions for companies in capital intensive industries, held its fifth Reliability Leadership Summit on May 1-3, 2012, in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. Approximately 200 attendees explored the theme, “Reliability: The Journey to Operational Excellence.” In addition to user case studies, attendees participated in workshops and panel/round table discussions intended to assist attendees on their operational excellence (OpX) journey. A technology showcase featuring Ivara and its hardware, implementation, and complimentary software partners was available to answer functionality and usage questions. Participants from around the world were able to share their experiences as well as learn from each other.

Key takeaways include:

  • The journey to OpX requires integrated strategies for operations management; asset performance; environment, health, and safety (EHS) compliance; and capital effectiveness
  • Building a world-class maintenance organization is the responsibility of everyone involved
  • Process safety risk management, a key component of reliability, involves a systematic approach based on several layers of protection because a reliable plant is a safer plant

Integrated Strategies of Operational Excellence

World-Class Maintenance Practices
Several Ivara EXP users shared their asset performance management experiences. Jim Gowans, Managing Director (MD), Debswana Diamond Company, a 50/50 joint venture of DeBeers SA and the government of the Republic Botswana, shared in his keynote address that world-class maintenance is not just for the industrialized world. He described the maintenance situation at Debswana in January 2011, as “not in good shape,” with a mounting backlog of breakdown repairs and equipment that had outlived its useful life. The existing ERP system was not effective for maintenance management purposes. Downsizing resulted in the loss of maintenance technical expertise. In addition, management of maintenance and repair contracts was inadequate. As a result, operations struggled to achieve operational utilization targets.

To address the situation, Gowans and his team have embarked on a multi-year uptime improvement program, including maintenance interventions for all Debswana operations. The company hired several new maintenance managers and engineers and brought in a team of asset and maintenance management experts to facilitate the effort and train personnel in reliability-centered maintenance (RCM) methodology. Gowans position is that if the company is investing in training new or re-training existing personnel, it should have a “best-in-class” system to assist the effort. The team selected Ivara EXP software as the tool of choice for several reasons. These included ease of use to safeguard sustainability with users, ease of deployment for mobile devices, improved planning and scheduling practices, the ability to generate bills of materials (BOM) on the fly, and planning templates that enable field data to be incorporated in future planning activities.

Gowans views asset performance management as the leading strategic lever to deliver financial improvement. His philosophy is that as a manager, it is his responsibility to provide the training and tools his team needs to be successful, and it is the team’s responsibility to deliver results. Debswana’s “go live” date is June 1, 2012, but if preparations are any indication, the program has already instilled a sense of ownership on the part of the team. Gowans is optimistic that, with additional coaching and training, Debswana will achieve its uptime goals.

Process Safety Is Everyone’s Responsibility
According to Ian Travers of the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE), process safety is shorthand for controlling major hazard risks. He suggested process safety risks be presented as business risks that require a systematic management approach based on several layers of protection.

Travers stated that although root causes are frequently common across all enterprises and manufacturing sectors, people at every level in the organization are the weakest links in process safety management systems. At the plant level, operators and technicians may not understand the hazards or be able to distinguish critical process safety tasks in the context of normal work. Plant managers fixated on production may take risks in the absence of immediate adverse consequences. Executives may not understand the hazard risks and, as a result, may blindly believe that safety system design capable of hazard containment. Travers recommended that all levels in the organization focus on process safety outcomes.

To successfully manage process safety risk, all plant systems must be reliable. This is where APM solutions, such as Ivara EXP, can make a contribution. EXP’s modular design provides the users the flexibility to tackle the most troublesome systems first. The newly released Risk Based Inspections (RBI) and Integrity Inspection Management module, based on American Petroleum Institute 580 recommended practice, provides a cohesive platform to conduct structured risk analyses as well as develop risk-based inspection programs. Regular automated reports and notifications ensure that inspection tasks are neither omitted nor performed too often.

Risks are increasing for every industrial enterprise. Strained resources and more complex processes present greater opportunities for safety and environmental incidents. ARC Advisory Group believes a proactive risk management program is critical in this environment. It is crucial that enterprises ensure that risks to people, assets, and product quality are identified and documented. Asset performance management (APM) solutions that support and document risk reduction, plant reliability, mitigation of loss, and avoidance of unplanned outages can be presented to insurance providers, regulators, or in a court of law should that need arise as proof the enterprise is managing risk in a systematic manner.

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