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Bringing maintenance and operations together in OGP

The uncertain situation created by the COVID-19 pandemic has threatened even the most stable organizations from the oil and gas industry. In times of crisis, the industry reacts by making drastic cuts to survive, eradicating projects, suspending investments to minimize costs, or cutting headcounts. 

But this model creates instability in the industry, affecting individual organizations and on-site operations & maintenance. Operators need a long-term stability and sustainability strategy that incorporates operational excellence, maintenance, reliability, and integrity processes. 

There are consequences for failing to define asset strategies, identifying urgent risks, optimizing assets, and operators' performance or creating a safety and collaboration culture. 

Many organizations still fail to plan effectively, schedule, and execute primary facility inspections & maintenance to ensure on-time finalization, cost control, and safe realization of tasks because of lack of operational and maintenance collaboration or accurate data distribution between the two. 

Operations & maintenance need readiness planning. When integration and planning are deficient or faulty, operators struggle with increased difficulty in reaching new assets. Therefore operators can't anticipate numbers on time and on a budget without facing repeated issues that disturb production. 

Operations and maintenance together for increased production 

What are the main reasons for operation and maintenance not working together? Why do these many collaborative issues occur? Could it be because of lack of trust, poor communication, or complete lack of communication, or even finger-pointing when problems arise?

These are all consequences of the absence of a proper system that integrates all work processes and needed data so that everyone has access to it any time, anywhere. 

Imagine how many collaborative issues and, therefore, productivity gaps would be solved with a focus on time efficiency, quality performance, and speed performance of operations and maintenance together. 

What would happen if the oil and gas organizations would start:

  • Capturing data and leveraging continuous improvement to avoid repetitive processes and increase efficiency?
  • Determine what the key factor of low productivity and low-quality performance is. Is it the lack of skilled staff, lack of processes, data losses, time-consuming handover information? 
  • Quantify potential losses and perform technical data analysis. Where is the data lost? How much time is spent to share data between operations and maintenance and across the entire organization, how many data breaches occur, and why, how many assets suffered because data was not delivered fast enough? 

With a mindset like this, oil and gas organizations would nurture an environment of collaboration between operations and maintenance.

Operations and Maintenance: one common goal 

Instead of wasting time determining what department is to blame, what if organizations spent the time to find the root cause of the problem elimination? This requires a complete switch in loss categorizing—no more who. Focus on why. 

When business leaders decide to create a collaborative work environment that follows the same goal, some processes might help to do that smoothly. 

  • Determine and acquire the problems that cause high costs in safety, environmental, lost production (quality, time, speed).
  • Determine and learn the issues that cause high maintenance costs.
  • Determine which problems you need to solve in the nearest future 
  • Assign a problem owner and a team 
  • Solve the problem 
  • Document the solution
  • Educate the rest of the organization 

Often, a problem does not arise from the operations department or the maintenance department but is a mix of how equipment is operated and maintained.

Both operations and maintenance deliver reliability. 

Without proper equipment and process reliability, companies in oil and gas face production losses and inefficient processes. The main goal is to avoid both. To do that, organizations should focus on improving reliability efforts resulting in sustainable, lower maintenance costs. 

Once you set up a common goal, increase production efficiency, for example, achieve total reliability, or solve problems without classifying them by department, bringing operations and maintenance together should be the same as building a partnership. 

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Smooth digitized processes 

To make a partnership between maintenance and operation successful, organizations need to provide a future-proof work environment that enables accessible communication and collaboration. 

As long as your organization is susceptible to human errors and data losses due to an unstructured way of handling data, this partnership will not last long. 

Start by investing in thorough handovers. 

You’ve certainly seen that many issues occur because technical problems couldn't be adequately analyzed. What would happen if the maintenance team had the possibility to collect data fast and secured and deliver a proper handover?

We work with organizations from oil and gas that consider it’s practical to empower their operators to undertake basic maintenance inspections. There are situations like small preventive maintenance tasks where the operators could be trained to perform that inspection themselves.

When the operators are capable of doing the maintenance themselves, they simply inform the people across the organisation through their Smartflow app that they took care of it.

Doing preventive maintenance you avoid costly downtime and you help both operations and maintenance be more efficient in their work and collaboration. 

Providing them with clear guidelines of the process, operators use their Smartflow app to define and capture remedial actions saving the entire organization lots of back and forth efforts. 

Prioritize work orders 

One of the problems we encountered is a misleading work prioritization. The tendency to make everything a priority is costing organizations time and operators' motivation. To avoid that, our customers use the Kanban Board in their Smartflow dashboard to correctly visualize what their team is doing and what exactly affects or boosts productivity. 

Aim for a collaborative effort 

If activities are set up only by the operations team without any technicians' input, it might result in unplanned downtime and even doubling maintenance costs. If operations and maintenance employees can have joint access to the work orders and the activity planning, it might save much time and unnecessary work. With instant notification of what new tasks and requirements are in place and who is in charge of that, productivity and efficiency will increase rapidly. 

Use standard templates to boost preventive maintenance

The oil and gas industry is ready to start developing a preventive mindset now that technology is a major enabler. The key element is to ensure critical information is captured, held in the right place and format, and is linked to the correct equipment. Using standardized templates for preventive activities will save time, money, and help you avoid lots of frustration. 

Start storing your data correctly and avoid compliance issues 

One of the most common situations we encountered when discussing problems and challenges with our customers was poor data management and storage. This leads to data breaches that might cost you the organization's compliance. When data is stored and structured correctly, it saves you a lot of time finding it and interpreting it.

Companies that store their information digitally experiment many benefits like less physical storage space or guaranteed data protection. If you're still storing data in paper form, a single accident can destroy months of operations or maintenance work. Are you still taking that risk? Anything can harm paper; water, fire, wind, etc. Digital files are not susceptible to this kind of accident and even if it happens to be lost, the chances to recover the data from the cloud are incredibly high. 

Smart Routine Preventive and Predictive Strategic Checks 

A smart terminal could replace manual preventive checks with the use of sensors that gather the data needed. Smart assets help operators determine whether the equipment needs manual maintenance without any back and forth effort. These sensors can take over some tasks currently being carried by human workers saving you a considerable amount of money and time. 

Smartflow integrates these smart assets minimizing the need for maintenance staff. Monitoring, control, scheduling, and management can be performed throughout the entire plant through the control center. 

Real-time control of the equipment is still possible, as well as running status, operating instructions, gathering historical data, even alarm report processing. 

How will the modern way of collecting, interpreting, and sharing data transform your organisation? Will that help you ensure that you always have a detailed picture of the current situation? Would a smart terminal enable you to make decisions in real-time? 

Smart sensors make inspection and maintenance safer and needless to say, more efficient.

Conclusion  

How would your organization change if you determined the philosophy and strategy of these two departments working together to ensure a viable collaboration? Oil and gas businesses need to recognise and be realistic about where they sit and how they want to achieve their goals. Following an approach like the one described in this article improves the likelihood of success and will save the business money and efficiency. 

Achieving and sustaining performance will increase in integrity and maximize asset value. 

Do you have questions related to this topic? Get in touch with one of our consultants for an accurate analysis of your challenges. 

Interested in how can your organization make the most of digitizing operator rounds? Read the article. 

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