Round Table

Bluefield Round Table – Improving Operational Readiness

Bluefield recently published articles about Operational Readiness, the importance of getting it right, and how to ensure it succeeds (read them here and here). Many of our team members have worked extensively in the field of Operational Readiness, so we asked them the following question:  

What are the biggest mistakes that businesses make with Operational Readiness, and how could they be prevented? 

Ian Peterson 

  1. Not including operational readiness in the project scope from ‘Concept’ stage 
  2. Not having a clear set of operational readiness deliverables and a resource-loaded plan/schedule for execution 
  3. Under-estimating and under-resourcing (people & cost) the operational readiness scope 
  4. Not including required documentation for criticality/reliability/PM/spares analysis as deliverables in supplier contracts 

Brent Boterhoek 

  1. Not considering and not budgeting for Operational Readiness in the early stages of the study. If this is not allowed for at an early stage, then it’s always going to be a struggle to get this back into budget in the execution phase. When this happens, you end up fighting for budget or not having enough funds to deliver Operational Readiness successfully. 
  2. Sites just running with OEM recommended spares rather than critically reviewing based on site location and logistics constraints. 

Gerard Wood 

I agree with Ian on the technical problems, but from what I have seen in the projects we have delivered these two are my biggest issues: 

  1. Recognise that whoever creates the PM checklists, service kits etc from drawings and/or OEM information will make mistakes and the Operational Readiness plan needs to include 12 months to 2 years after startup for validation and improvement of the documentation. 
  2. It does not matter how good the PM documentation is, the people coming into the business who have to use the information will not own it immediately, and if it looks different than what they had at their previous place they wont like it. This first 12 months must include a plan for these people to own the information. 

Colin Sheldon 

Great points so far – I especially agree with Gerard’s comment on recognising that the initial Operational Readiness deliverables (cataloged spares, PM checksheets, maintenance strategies) are not the final verified product and as the project enters the operational phase, they will continue to be iteratively improved. You need the resources there to do this work, as leaving it up to the operations can become overwhelming with the mountain of changes in the first 12 months. 

Two other topics that were very real during the Operational Readiness team I was a part of were: 

  1. Unclear battery limits of Operational Readiness deliverables vs operational needs – there was at times confusion around what the Operational Readiness team was supposed to deliver, which left a sour taste in the operations teams’ mouths. They had assumed/expected more would be delivered to them. Operational Readiness needs to clearly define what will be handed over so the operation is fully aware and can prepare themselves. 
  2. Justification of decisions made by project team – as the operation began to recruit its staff and workforce, they questioned some of the inclusions / exclusions of the new mine and equipment. As the Operational Readiness team, we often did not have the context for these decisions that came well before us when contracts were drawn up / the project was initiated. Some operations staff lost interest or engagement as they felt these were obvious necessities to them and were being “setup” to struggle with what was handed to them. I felt there should have been better record keeping and documentation between Projects and Operational Readiness teams so there was a justification piece and the business reasoning behind the decisions could be presented clearly to operations. 

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