The term ‘Operational Transformation’ has been around for years, but what does it actually mean, and what are the catalysts to move towards it?
Running a power generation and energy retailer business has always been complex. This is a competitive, capital-intensive, and dynamic industry that can make any change management difficult – particularly when it comes to your people and the technology they use.
The power industry is navigating a massive industrial change moving from centralized thermal-powered generators to those with renewable generation. Although the change is needed for the industry to align with climate change initiatives, it is not one without its challenges.
What is Operational Transformation and how does it apply to the power industry?
For power generation companies looking to maximize new renewable generation investments, understanding exactly what Operational Transformation is and how to implement it is critical to assuring asset health, minimizing maintenance spend, and improving plant reliability.
More than just predictive analytics, Operational Transformation looks to leverage digital technology, culture and process change to improve and drive efficiencies in industrial operations.
In the power industry, this means looking to your people, processes and technology and adjusting accordingly to meet new power generation demands.
The eight key drivers for Operational Transformation in power generation companies
Industrial change aside, there have been drivers for Operational Transformation that have been heightened in the push for renewable generation:
1. Disparate systems
Power generation businesses rely on a range of best-of-breed systems to make critical business decisions. However, many of these systems aren’t integrated meaning they require additional time and internal resource to get an accurate read of plant operations.
2. Unsupported legacy systems
The majority of plants continue to operate using Excel spreadsheets and unsupported databases, implemented via evolution. However, as plants become further reliant on technology, the risk of maintaining operations using these legacy systems is high.
3. Aging plant and workforce
Most plants have many long-service staff present since opening. As workers look to retire, it is important to capture and embed this knowledge in next-generation systems.
4. Situational awareness
In today’s market, data-driven decisions are critical to business success, yet having data across disparate systems magnifies the effort required to respond to situations quickly. In many cases, decisions are made on gut feeling and opinion, rather than supported by data.
5. Too many alarms
If a control room has too many alarms this becomes a safety risk as operators become stressed. Important alarms can be missed and there are no effective tools to measure the problem or understand the root cause.
6. Shift log visibility
Shift log visibility is critical to maintaining and providing situational awareness. For many plants, shift handover is often handled through Excel spreadsheets, Access databases or even, paper. The lack of connected systems (or systems at all) can make historic visibility and analysis difficult, resulting in reduced situational awareness.
7. Operator training
Understanding how different shifts operate is vital to improving plant productivity. However, when information is spread across different systems it’s difficult to objectively identify where the gaps are.
8. Competitive pressure
As power generation companies move towards a more digitally advanced infrastructure, the pressure for those who haven’t has grown immensely. Soon, digital laggards will struggle to remain competitive against their digitally advanced competitors.
The power industry is at the crux of change. It’s now more important than ever for power generation companies to understand the value of Operational Transformation and how it can apply to your company’s operations. If you’d like to learn more about achieving Operational Transformation through your existing PI System investment, download our practical guide below.
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