Because NGS is a base load plant, 2,250 net megawatts, it is essential that it be a reliable plant. Fortunately the plant was well designed and we have good employees. Because many of these employees were hired in the early to mid 70's retirements were becoming a factor early in this decade. In addition NGS is a remotely located plant and many employees were transferring to the metro Phoenix area to be closer to family or for retirement. Management at NGS realized that something needed to be done to maintain and hopefully improve the reliability of the plant with this knowledge walking out the door. Whatever was done needed to be a plant program, not just a maintenance program. The Plant Manager adamantly communicated this to his direct reports.
NGS realized if true improvements were going to happen that we needed assistance. Many different companies were considered. Ultimately a consulting firm was identified that could provide the assistance necessary. The initial meetings were very productive. The team that visited NGS was very thorough. First, they explained to plant management the steps involved in the process necessary to build a solid foundation for a reliability program. Next they performed an assessment of the plant, what we were doing right and wrong. A master plan was being created to guide us through the process. Meetings were beginning with the different divisions. Then the team we were working with left the consulting firm. We were assured there would be a competent team put in place to continue the process. Thirty days turned into one hundred eighty days and nothing. At that point it was decided to cancel the contract and go with someone else.
It would have been real easy at this point to cancel the entire project and just continue living life as we had been. Management did not feel that was in the best interest of NGS. The seed had been sowed; the interest existed to continue the process.
A sister plant had done something similar a few years prior. The process they had used showed promise but we didn't want to jump immediately. We evaluated other options. The evaluation showed there were great benefits for both plants if NGS were to implement the same process.Contacts were made with the consulting firm and the process began.
A team was assigned and the Navajo Plant Reliability Optimization, NPRO, project was began.Informational meetings were conducted with a cross section of the plant population representing both hourly and salaried employees. Surveys were completed with much of the remainder of the plant population. The data collected during these meetings and through the survey was compiled and presented to NGS Management. This was a decision point. Did we like what we had seen and did we want to continue with the consulting firm. Just before a decision was made on the path forward the firm we were working with went through a major reorganization. The division we were working with was being abolished and rolled back into the parent company. The team that we were working with was not going to be absorbed into the new organization. They were starting a company of their own. Déjà vu!
At this point we were about ready to throw in the towel. We once again had a major decision to make on the future of this process and of NGS. It seemed like a reliability improvement initiative was doomed to failure. We had four options:
1. Cancel and continue to do business as we were
2. Solicit proposals and select another company
3. Go with the parent company and a new team
4. Go with the upstart company and the existing team
After much deliberation we decided on option 4. They were still providing the same product only as a different company and a good working relationship had been established with the team.
The upstart company had access to all the information gathered during the informational meetings and through the survey. An implementation plan was completed and presented to plant management. A design team comprised of NGS employees was created to work with the consultant to help identify issues with the implementation plan and eliminate potential roadblocks. This is one of the elements that had we done better the program would have been more successful quicker than what it was. Had this team been given clearer direction they could have been a more constructive asset. Communication from NGS management, the consultant and the NGS project lead could have been clearer, more concise and more frequent. As it was they struggled getting their arms around the project and their role.
Finally, we had completed a phase of this project with the same team and there was no evidence of any changes with the team or the consulting firm in the immediate future. An Oversight Committee, comprised of division managers, was created. In their charter meeting the Plant Manager once again made it clear this was a plant process not a maintenance process. The committee's primary tasks were to create a team charter and support the project in their organizations.
One of the most challenging tasks was creating a Team Charter. It was decided that the charter would be co authored by the Oversight Committee. After many, many lively meetings and much debate over the most minuscule issues a document was finally produced with the signatures of all division managers. This process was a good learning experience for each of us. It provided a venue where working together to produce a product was a requirement. The task could not be delegated to those below us. We had to work as a team to develop what would become a guiding document for the process. This is not something the managers were accustomed to doing, peer to peer. This provided an opportunity to learn about others issues, concerns and beliefs. In the long run this was a very productive effort.
Next we began building a foundation for reliability which required that we create a Reliability Basis. The Reliability Basis identifies critical plant equipment and its applicable time‐directed work activities and frequencies. It provides the linkage between expected equipment failure modes and the associated Preventive Maintenance (PM) task. It is therefore the core document for work activities and is a living program, updated when a system, component, or testing procedure changes.
A Reliability Basis Optimization, RBO, team was created. It was comprised of craft workers from the mechanical, electrical, instrumentation and operations fields. They were tasked with reviewing the existing PM's, comparing them to best in class, and then making the necessary changes to it to attain best in class frequency and scope. The product became the NGS Reliability Basis.
A Condition Based Maintenance, CBM, team was created. We have had this team in place at NGS for nearly 15 years, much of the CBM process is in place. What NPRO has done is expanded the process, helped us document the use of the predictive technology by creating PM's for the routes and made the process more visible through the use of PlantView.
PlantView is a software program that tracks the technology exams (findings from the CBM team) as unacceptable, marginal and watch list. This is a tool used by our system owners to help visualize the performance of plant equipment.
PlantView provides a platform for diagnostic data collection and analysis, and provides access to information to make a condition assessment. The results of the equipment assessments are summarized in the Equipment Condition Status Report to help staff manage the maintenance function. This is a very important tool for System Owners.
System Owners were selected and assigned. They own the Reliability Basis for the system, have knowledge of, or a willingness to learn, monitor, and optimize plant equipment utilizing all CBM/PdM data, process data, and plant expertise. System Owners must; be able to communicate to the Plant on all issues, concerns, and successes; be advocates for their system's condition and backlog; support the Root Cause Analysis (RCA) and Corrective Action Process (CAP) programs for their systems.
Pulling all this together would not be possible without a work management process. As part of the NPRO project we made some changes to our existing process. We were already planning & scheduling work. This process introduced a tool called PaSTA, Planning and Scheduling Tools Assistant. While this tool did not provide any scheduling logic, it did provide visual aid to the scheduling process that made it more understandable to those trying to execute the schedules. Previously we had been using Primavera Project Scheduler. Primavera is a very robust and capable program but not the most user‐friendly. Consequently we created an interface where we could schedule the work in Primavera and upload it with all the predecessors and successors into PaSTA. This worked reasonably well and was used until just recently when we decided to put the scheduling responsibility onto front line supervisors who would use PaSTA in its entirety. This provided more direct ownership of schedules to supervision and removed the middle man.
PaSTA also provides a complete metrics dashboard. This is very convenient because it is real time and immediately visible to supervisors as they are scheduling their resources. They can see Gross Available Man‐hours, Net Available Man‐hours, % Scheduled, Schedule Compliance WO, Schedule Compliance Hours, PM Hours, PM Compliance, Sponsored Work, Emergency Work, etc. There are a total of 30 metrics on the dashboard.
One of the most significant changes made was to create a Gatekeeper. The Gatekeeper is a Plant Operations Supervisor. It is his responsibility to control the flow of Emergency and Sponsored work into the Work Management Process, specifically into T‐0, the current work week. He is tasked with keeping sponsored work at less than 15% of Net Available Resources each week.
Every day there is a Plan of the Day, POD, meeting. It occurs 2 hours into the shift and is chaired by the planning and scheduling supervisor. During this meeting those present, all supervisors representing all the divisions, maintenance, operations (gatekeeper), engineering, rail road and material services, review the work requests generated in the past 24 hours or since the last meeting. On Mondays this is generally 3 days worth of work requests. They direct those that can be minimally planned to a planner who processes them that day and gets them on the crew's backlogs. They return those that do not have sufficient information back to the creator.
They send those that are Build, Move or Modify to the Oversight Committee for approval and budget assignment. Lastly the send regular O&M requiring detailed planning to the planners. This meeting and its participants play a vital role in getting the right work done at the right time.
Every Thursday a Schedule Commitment meeting is held. It is chaired by the Maintenance Manager. This meeting is mandatory for maintenance supervision. During this meeting we review and discuss issues with this week's schedule. We then review and get commitment from each supervisor and any support crews required for the next week's schedule. This meeting has helped clear up issues between crews/supervisors. It is why we can generally meet an 80% schedule compliance goal with 100% PM compliance.
In summary, the NPRO project has made a difference in the performance of NGS. We have completed the Reliability Analysis and are currently implementing changes to the Reliability Basis which will be the foundation for our PM program going forward. We utilize a CBM team to capitalize on PdM technology. We are currently using PlantView to create visibility for the PdM Technology Experts findings. It also provides a mean to validate the value to the plant of such a program. We have System Owners assigned to champion the work that needs to happen in their systems. This has not been perfected; we have some System Owners who jumped on board 100% while there are others that are not as enthusiastic. That said it has proven to make a difference. System Owners are required to make an annual State of the System report to the Oversight Committee. This proves to be a motivator for some. Lastly we have our work management process. Every day we continue to improve this process. The NPRO project has provided more visibility and structure to the process.
Not mentioned earlier but crucial to everything is an RCA and Continuous Improvement process that we utilize. I did not mention this earlier because I felt it crucial that it not get buried in the fluff of the discussion above. Without RCA and Continuous Improvement there will be no significant gains made. This has proven to be a difficult process at NGS however we recognize the true value and continue to strive to complete the RCA's and implement the Corrective Actions.
Article submitted by: Shayne Jones, Maintenance Manager, Navajo Generating Station