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Automation & Engineering

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ASSET MANAGEMENT

Asset-Management Strategies Enable Utilities to Optimize


By Richard Vesel and John DuBay, ABB Inc.

ower utilities are closely examining ways they


can ensure future reliability and availability. Many
companies in the manufacturing and process
industry sectors have already established histories of
operational excellence initiatives to drive profitable,
sustained growth throughout the enterprise. The focus
of many of these initiatives is to maximize operational
asset performance while lowering costsspecifically
maintenance costs.
Executing an effective asset-management strategy to
achieve such initiatives has become central to survival
in todays competitive environment, including the utility
environment. Asset management is more than a product
feature or a way to manage devices and tasks; its a strategy
that provides the capability to optimize all aspects of the
operational asset to extend the assets life, reduce lifecycle
costs and ensure availability. It goes beyond simply
identifying fault-oriented maintenance requirements.
An effective asset-management strategy combines the
needs of the production and maintenance organizations.
It increases both equipment availability and production
rate by providing insight into asset health, corrective-

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UA October 2008

action instructions and organizational visibility. Its


ability to share contextual information to those who
need it when they need it reduces time-to-decision and
coordinates production and maintenance activities. Asset
management is the key component of a comprehensive
optimization plan that includes integrating device health
with the automation platform and a computerized
maintenance management system (CMMS). Successful
asset management is deployed on the strategic level.
Following are the best asset-management approaches:
Address industry segments across the board,
Take a consultative approach that ideally begins with
the front-end engineering and design process,
Integrate design data with operational and maintenance
data,
Employ large databases of benchmarking information
collected from multiple customers,
Allow end users to measure themselves against worldclass performance standards, and
Effectively illustrate to utility customers how even a
small change in overall equipment effectiveness (OEE)
operations can have a big impact on profitability.
www.utility-automation.com

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ASSET MANAGEMENT

Asset-Management Benefits
A well-executed asset-management
strategy can reduce unnecessary
maintenance and downtime, track
causes of failures, identify repeat
offenders, provide root-cause data
and fault diagnosis and recommend
actions. It also detects failure
conditions in advance, eliminates
manual actions, handoffs and
paperwork and reduces latent time
between problem identification and
resolution.

A solid asset-management
strategy increases asset
availability and performance,
maximizes operations and
maintenance effectiveness
and consistently lowers
O&M costs.
Some of the key asset-management
benefits realized by utilities once a
strategy has been determined and
implemented include:
Record-breaking profits. Many
transmission and distribution
manufacturers offer performancebased,asset-maintenancepartnerships
that ensure operational excellence
and assume full responsibility for
their work. These asset-management
partnerships, combined with
customer commitment, often result
in exceptional operational and
financial achievements that have
a direct impact on profitability.
These asset-management providers
guarantee results and take
responsibility for maintenance, with
a focus on improving productivity
in a performance-based manner.
Providers share the risk by
contractually committing to key
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UA October 2008

performance indicators (KPIs), such


as increased OEE (availability x
performance x quality) and reduced
total maintenance costs. Many
also assume full responsibility for
maintenance.
For example, one North American
utility recently contracted for assetmanagement and maintenance
services at a generating facility. In
addition to an improved unit rampup, this utility achieved significant
performance improvements through
incentive-based contracts. Achieving
a faster ramp-up, coupled with
high operations satisfaction, drove
executives to realize commercial
power production significantly ahead
of schedule and attain an all-time
high production leveland record
profits. This newly implemented
asset-management strategy also
included a cost-effective, predictive
maintenance strategy to replace a
costly, guesswork-based, preventive
maintenance plan.
Decreased maintenance costs.
By optimizing work processes in
an automation system to increase
mean time between failures
(MTBF), maintenance costs can be
lowered. Corrective actions can be
implemented quickly and reliably
based on actionable knowledge.
Real-time monitoring and alarming
of asset KPIs facilitates fast, reliable
implementation of corrective
actions. Unplanned downtime is
a major source of production loss
and uncontrolled maintenance costs.
By nature, unplanned downtime
happens at the worst possible time.
A major U.S. power utility
recently experienced an issue that
was preventing a start-up. Using
their SupportLine subscription, they

called ABB for technical support late


on a Friday night. This site had
been resetting several control-system
modules. One module continued to
report an error. Using a continuousmonitoring program, the service
engineer determined that the module
had to be reloaded, which he did
remotely. Within 30 minutes, a
service engineer addressed the issue
and the problem was solved on the
spot without the cost and wait for an
engineer to fly to the site.
The service engineer used ABBs
remote diagnostic services (RDS)
technology to optimize the power
utility producers assets in real time.
The module was successfully reset.
Delays and uncontrolled maintenance
costs were avoided while the start-up
stayed on schedule.
Maximized Operations
Effectiveness. Operational workflow
can be optimized and streamlined by
implementing a facility-wide assetoptimization strategy. Operational
costs can be lowered by effectively
monitoring equipment degradation.
This asset-management strategy
provides:
More consistent and complete
coverage of monitored items,
Migration from a reactive to a
proactive maintenance strategy,
Amplified coverage and
capability of a limited set of
resources, and
24/7 automatic monitoring of
assets previously monitored
manually, or by status, which
was manually inferred from
multiple pieces of information.
Production Capacity Assurance.
The goal of any maintenance
strategy is to maintain the highest
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ASSET MANAGEMENT

possible production capacity at the


lowest possible cost. Remote-asset
monitoring enables continuous
tracking and, when appropriate,
alarming and notification of status
changes.
Capacity is best ensured
and low maintenance costs are
maintainedthrough continuous
remote-asset monitoring.
A solid asset-management strategy
increases asset availability and
performance, maximizes operations
and maintenance effectiveness and
consistently lowers operational and
maintenance costs. Implementing
a well-managed asset-management
strategy can contribute greatly to a
utilitys operational excellence and
financial performance.
Finally, these asset-management
strategy benefits extend beyond
the maintenance organization to
all the stakeholders throughout the
enterprise. The real value comes
from leveraging an integrated assetmanagement strategy that presents
the right data to the right people at
the right time so sound operational
decisions can be made.
Executing an asset-management
strategy to increase OEE and
reduce maintenance costs can be
a highly effective means to remain
consistently competitive in the
marketplace for decades.
Vesel is a business development manager for optimization.
He has been with ABB more than 16 years in various
management roles. Vesel may be reached at richard.w.vesel@
us.abb.com.
DuBay is manager of remote diagnostic services. He has a
strong background in asset-management strategies and may
be reached at john.dubay@us.abb.com.

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UA October 2008

The Reliability and Maintainability Plan is Core


to Your T&D Capital Improvement Project
By Mike Poland, Life Cycle Institute
With the increasing cost of fossil
fuel and the global demand for
alternative energy sources, it is
paramount that T&D projects
are focused on the end in mind:
the absolute lowest total cost of
ownership with the greatest
possible asset utilization. As projects
progress along front-end loading
methodology, the time to start
developing your reliability and
maintainability plan is in parallel
with, or part of, your conceptual
design phase.
Simply, reliability is related to
mean time between failures (MTBF)
and maintainability is related to
the mean time to repair (MTTR). As
your reliability and maintainability
plan matures, it should allow for
comparison among proposed
components for a detailed
reliability engineering analysis.
When making selections based on
the lowest lifecycle costs, you must
understand the failure modes of
these components. Look at the
probability, severity, detectability of
their occurrence (the risk priority
number associated with failure
mode and effect analysis) and the
required control plan to ensure the
forecasted availability.
Lets consider power transformers,
which are both costly and critical
to the power grid. In determining
the specifications for your particular
application, is lowest initial cost
meeting fit, form and function
the only consideration, or is the
total cost of ownership considered?
With a robust reliability and
maintainability plan, things such
as fault rates and controls are key
considerations. Take, for example,
a 5 MVA transformer with a failure

rate much lower than that of a


15 MVA transformer. Determine
if the increased number of lowerpower transformers increases the
likelihood of a failure in the data
set above that of the higher-power
transformer. Use the controls and
risk for each as part of the selection
criteria.
Criticality also plays an
important role in your reliability
and maintainability plan. Does
the transformers criticality justify
the high cost of online dissolved
gas analysis (DGA) to better
understand the health of the asset
and thus ensure improved utility
service? Fault tracking and rootcause analysis are also important
factors in ensuring a continuous
improvement process. Knowing
that the predominant failure mode
is insulation breakdown and that
transformers in the 300 kVA to 10
MVA have the lowest failure rates is
great when developing specifications
for your project.
Although the example used
here is a power transformer,
the important takeaway is that
component selection and the
overall T&D system architecture of
a capital improvement project can
benefit greatly from a reliability
and maintainability plan. This
helps create an asset-management
strategy that can help you achieve
the greatest asset utilization at the
lowest total cost of ownership.
Poland is an instructor for the
Life Cycle Institute, a learning
source for reliability training
created by Life Cycle Engineering.
More information may be found
online at www.LCE.com.
www.utility-automation.com

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