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Top five actions mid-market utilities can do to maximize system performance and control maintenance costsà‚ 

Mid-market utilities ” whether electric, natural gas, water or wastewater ” are very different, yet they all share a common needࢀ¦to minimize costs and maximize performance.

First,à‚ all rely heavily upon their infrastructure and assets as a core component of operations. In fact, these assets are so critical that if not operating properly, everything from distribution to customer satisfaction can suffer.

Second,à‚ profitability is dependent upon maximizing the performance and efficiency of company assets at every stage of the lifecycle. So, maintenance of aging assets is key.

Additionally,à‚ asset-intensive companies intrinsically require large capital expenditures, thus financial performance reflects the return on these investments.

Also,à‚ the assets are typically spread across a wide geographic area and subject to physical and environmental stress. Therefore, providing a remote workforce with mobile access to asset operations systems is necessary in order to optimize performance.

For mid-market utilities, the sensitivities and balance between maximum performance and cost control to make staying ahead of system issues ” both operational and mechanical ” even more critical to delivering sustainable gains in performance and profit.à‚ à‚ 

Enterprise asset management (EAM) solutions can help utilities manage asset lifecycle, and implement policies and procedures to optimize asset utilization while minimizing costs. However, until recently, comprehensive, “super-powered” EAM systems were only financially feasible for large utilities. Not anymore!

The benefits of EAM are now accessible for mid-market utilities

Thanks to recent advances in technology, all the benefits that the “big” utilities have gotten from EAM solutions are now accessible for the mid-market budget. And, with a world-class EAM system, mid-market utilities are just five actions away from optimizing performance and profitability:

1.à‚ à‚ à‚ à‚ à‚  Manage assets based on operational criticality

2.à‚ à‚ à‚ à‚ à‚  Optimize MRO supply chain

3.à‚ à‚ à‚ à‚ à‚  Enable decision making at the point of performance

4.à‚ à‚ à‚ à‚ à‚  Drive safety assurance at the point of potential incidents

5.à‚ à‚ à‚ à‚ à‚  Standardize on ISO 55000/01/02


1.à‚ à‚ à‚ à‚ à‚  Manage assets based on operational criticality

To improve asset availability and performance, you mustà‚ manage assets based on risk and criticality to operationsà‚ , and systematically prioritize maintenance work. When assets are ranked this way, maintenance becomes a strategic component of proactive asset management.

In this day and age, it is not uncommon for maintenance organizations to have more work to do than they can handle. Implementing a risk and criticality assessment of assets not only places priority on critical assets, but also identifies the most critical parts within those assets.

Implementing reliability-centered maintenance, preventative maintenance, and predictive maintenance programs can further increase asset availability and performance by ensuring that the work most critical to operations is completed first.à‚ 

An EAM system purpose-built for asset-intensive industries enables complete visibility and management of assets enterprise wide. Further, it helps utilities apply maintenance policies and strategies that maximize asset value, including proactive programs such as condition monitoring and reliability-centered maintenance.

2.à‚ à‚ à‚ à‚ à‚  Optimize MRO supply chain

It’s imperative to take the guesswork out of the maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) supply chain. Start by analyzing why you stock certain parts in the first place ” accurately assessing the criticality of parts and adjusting stock levels accordingly can free valuable capital. Additionally, havingà‚ easy digital access to parts manualsà‚ at the point of maintenance via mobile devices expedites parts identification, ordering, and maintenance processes.

It’s also important to remember that the supply chain extends beyond your own operation. Monitor vendor performance with vendor score carding, lead-time metrics, and vendor performance history. You can’t control your vendors, but you can decide which vendors you do business with and how best to work with them to ensure you haveà‚ the supplies you need when you need them.

3.à‚ à‚ à‚ à‚ à‚  Enable decision making at the point of maintenance

Field maintenance productivity often suffers from its own set of challenges:

  • Lack of real-time management visibility
  • Insufficient automation tools for workers
  • No real-time planning and tracking

Mobile field workforce solutions provide real-time visibility into what workers are doing, andà‚ drive collaboration and effective operational decision making. This includes enabling a productive flow of timely, accurate information to and from the field, more effective service planning and scheduling, and streamlined field operations.

Mobile applications enable workers to identify any potential issues, and begin the work planning process where the asset resides. This means specific parts or tooling required to rectify an issue can be identified up front, minimizing wasted trips to perform maintenance with the wrong part or equipment

4.à‚ à‚ à‚ à‚ à‚  Drive safety assurance at the point of potential incidents

Remote operations, although critical, can intrinsically magnify new and existing challenges. Field worker safety is a prime example ” what can you do to protect workers once they’re out in the field?

Requiring field workers to pass a context-sensitive personal risk assessment before they receive a work task can ensure they are well prepared for the task.à‚ 

In the case of a utility worker performing maintenance at a substation, part of the personal risk assessment could be to ensure that all isolations have occurred before receiving the actual task. Other strategies include providing information that ensures that assets are available and safe for maintenance work, and providing monitoring credentials.

These practices work best when streamlined by putting information and best-practice safety processes in the hands of on-site maintenance workers through mobile technologies. Doing so protects workers, assets, and margins.

5.à‚ à‚ à‚ à‚ à‚  Standardize on ISO 55000/01/02

The International Organization for Standardization’s ISO 55000/01/02 is a framework for best practice asset management for all types of physical assets across their lifecycle. Standardizing on ISO 55000/01/02 can help you make clearer connections between strategic organizational plans and the day-to-day realities of asset and work management.

An EAM system can make it easier for utilities to more readily embrace ISO 55000/01/02 mandates by:

  • Managingà‚ risk before it becomes a problem including building risk assessment and management into alarms, inspections and defects, and work requests and work orders.
  • Understandingà‚ the condition of every asset including automatically calculating the current condition of each asset based on inspection data.
  • Standardizing the Asset Registry business process including registering assets according to ISO 55000/01/02 guidelines while ensuring that asset registers avoid becoming too complex.

With aà‚ Gap Analysisà‚ you can know for sure how well your asset management strategy meets ISO 55000 guidelines? à‚ 

Think only the largest of utilities can enjoy the benefits of a full-featured EAM/ERP system?

Think again: ABB has launched Ellipse Select, a world-class EAM/ERP system designed specifically for mid-market utilities. Like the ABB flagship EAM/ERP system Ellipse, Ellipse Select provides complete enterprise-wide visibility and management of assets. For the mid-market asset intensive company, Ellipse Select comes preconfigured with the industry-specific logic, workflow, and best practices from which the large utilities have benefited for 35+ years using the highly-customizable ABB EAM solution, Ellipse. This allows for a rapid implementation and streamlines ongoing administration. In fact, Ellipse Select can be operational in as little as 90 days. And because it can be hosted in the cloud, powered by Microsoft Azure, or on site with Microsoft SQL Server, it can help to reduce hardware overhead as well.

See for yourself how easy it is to optimize asset management for greater productivity and uptime. à‚ à‚ à‚ à‚ 

To learn more about Ellipse Select and how it helps mid-market utilities optimize performance and maintenance costs, click here.à‚ 

About the Enterprise Software Product Group within ABBà‚ 

We provide industry leading software and deep domain expertise to help the world’s most asset intensive industries such as energy, transportation, utilities and mining solve their biggest challenges, from plant level, to regional network scale, to global fleet-wide operations. à‚ Our enterprise software portfolio offers an unparalleled range of solutions for asset performance management, operations and workforce management, network control and energy portfolio management to help customers reach new levels of efficiency, reliability, safety and sustainability. We are constantly researching and incorporating the latest technology innovations in areas such as mobility, analytics and cloud computing. We provide unmatched capabilities to integrate information technologies (IT) and operational technologies (OT) to provide complete solutions to our customers’ business problems.