At the completion of any project it is always good practice to capture learning, from good and bad experiences, in order to continue to improve future projects. The review from our most recent Asset Management operational readiness project unearthed the following learnings. Maybe some of these are project specific but we hope you can relate to them. Also for context the project was a greenfield bulk materials handling terminal and the asset management part of the ops readiness started 3/4 of the way through construction. That is obviously not ideal but often occurs in reality so we had to deal with it and deliver.
1. When planning to take the operations team through a set of workshops in order to embed the required culture for asset management it is critical to plan this to occur over a period of time including 6 to 12 months into operations. The required culture will not be developed in a few months during transition to operations so it is essential to plan for the reality. This requires the project to view the investment in operational readiness as something that goes beyond the construction and commissioning phases and into the operating phase of the project.
2. When the assets are new it is essential to validate the maintenance inspection sheets (that have been created from drawings) by walking around the asset. The best people to do this are obviously the people who will do the inspections but access to the plant may not be possible during construction and for some equipment access is only provided after commissioning. So, this reality also needs to be part of plan.
3. The more items on the project gantt chart, the more admin time required to update the schedule. For tasks that involve the creation of information, processes and systems etc it is not necessary to have a detailed schedule for each step. Still track progress but minimise the schedule to minimise the admin task and associated costs.
4. The information management by the construction project team is critical for the ops readiness team. If there is an information management system that requires a naming convention in order to find files then make sure the construction team actually follow the naming convention. If not followed the task to find the necessary information becomes something similar to searching for knitting needle in a haystack. Sometimes a good old menu driven filing system is easier to get compliance to and for, people coming on at different stages of the project, simple to navigate through.
5. ERP systems for managing maintenance always require the software to automate the printing of the PM checklists. Ensure that IT realises that, while the printing solution is an option for an ERP system, is really does not function without it.
6. During the setup of the ERP system it is essential to align the financial structures with the structures that will be used to develop maintenance budgets and report maintenance costs. This avoids the problem found in many organisations where the maintenance team have to spend a lot of time to interpret the monthly cost reports and find out how these reports relate to their budgets. If there is the right input during the ERP implementation the alignment is simple to develop.
7. The naming convention in the ERP functional location structure is best when it aligns with the actual physical naming tags used on the plant. Input at the right time can provide this alignment which simplifies the work for the operations team.
8. If the ops readiness effort starts late in the project the outcomes can be delivered on time if not starting from a zero base.
9. It is ok to allow for some actions to be completed after transition to operations and start up. Not everything has to be done up front and spreading the expenditure out allows for a more effective take up and subsequently transition into effective operations.
10. Last but not least…….. If staying in a construction camp during the project it is not possible to avoid the dessert bar!