Website update in progress! You might be logged out of your account. If this occurs, please log back in.

Website update in progress! You might be logged out of your account. If this occurs, please log back in.

Sign Up

Please use your business email address if applicable

Removing Barriers to Reliability


Duke Power and Cinergy Corporation merged in 2006 to form Duke Energy. Naturally, each organization brought its own respective work processes, cultures and technologies to the new company. To establish and clarify their new unified direction, personnel from each legacy organization worked together in a variety teams to formulate consistent processes across the fleet. The result of taking the best from each legacy work process became the new Duke Energy Generation Fleet Operating Model.

Duke Energy leadership expects their organization in total and sites in particular to focus on continuous improvement to meet the goal of reliable cost-effective electrical generation. The Operating Manual's introduction summarizes leadership's charge to employees: "Work process improvement should be so well engrained that we refuse to let barriers reoccur and we have a passion for bringing forth better ways of doing business."

The Operating Model

Any process can be improved quickly, efficiently and effectively to sustain reliable cost-effective performance-that is the intentioned mantra of the Operating Model. Employees and contractors are expected to contribute to continuous improvement at every level with input, ideas, feedback and effort made possible through the Operating Model's policies, procedures and processes.

The Operating Model has ten sections that embody the theme of continuous improvement:

1. Introduction-addresses overall understanding of the Operating Model's purpose, scope and resource needs for successful implementation.

2. Station Leadership Process-outlines Station management's responsibilities in business planning, measurement, communication, training, performance expectations, visibility, continuous improvement, risk management, recognition and regulatory compliance.

3. Key Roles in Organization-identifies fifteen Station positions and the processes for which each is responsible.

4. Operating the Unit-outlines the tools and processes that Operations and Material Handling are to use for consistent performance and utilization of resources.

5. Equipment Ownership Process-describes the roles and responsibilities of designated Equipment Owners in sustaining critical equipment availability and reliability.

6. Work Management-details the work process elements of originating, planning, scheduling, executing and improving work.

7. Capital and O&M Budget and Finance-defines processes used to manage station finances and projects.

8. Engineering and Technical Support-identifies seven matrixed functions for station technical support

9. Measures Management-gives the framework for tracking and trending information used to improve performance and the processes.

10. Work Process Improvement and Sustainment-focuses on Station-level efforts for improvement and self assessment.

Work Order Process Fundamentals Wheel

The work management process embedded in the Operating Model is shown below in Figure 1.

This graphic depicts work process elements distilled from the Operating Model in a clockwise sequence beginning with Work Order Identification, the starting point of documenting work needs in Maximo, Duke Energy's CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management System).

Fig 1

Figure 1: Duke Energy Work Order Process Fundamental Wheel

Work Management Process

The detailed processes and tools within each one of the Work Order Fundamentals (Figure 1) are not discussed in this paper. However, outputs of those processes (such as planned Work Orders, Weekly Schedules and work documentation) contribute to the Barrier Process, this paper's focus.

The Barrier Process

As work is completed (see Figure 1, box #6, Work Order Close Out) the Barrier Process begins. Crafts identify any follow-up work needed, return unused parts and materials or items needing repair, communicate to Supervision that the work is complete, and then the Crafts document work completion comments and barriers electronically in Maximo.

With their documentation Crafts answer the question, "Did the job go as planned?" This step is essential to the Barrier Process. This input triggers information that helps avoid repeated mistakes, minimize work delays and continuously improve personnel productivity. Best of all, the information comes from the people who perform the work and/or operate the equipment.

Completed work may not go as planned. Crafts identify reasons on a Barrier Screen in Maximo by category with a detailed description if needed. Optional categories listed are:

• None (no barriers experienced, so this WO will not be on the Barrier Report)

• Red Tag (issues related to equipment Lock Out / Tag Out)

• Material (the correct parts / materials / tools were not available prior to completion)

• Work Order Information (incorrect WO description or equipment identification)

• Pre-Job (issues related to inadequate pre-job briefing discussions)

• Scope Change (Job involved greater or fewer resources than initially anticipated)

• Reassignment (Crafts pulled off job to do other work deemed more important at the time)

• Other (issues that were a barrier but don't fit the other categories)

Work Orders subject to Barrier Process review include those culled from these categories and WOs not in labor hour compliance. That is, a completed WO with a ± 10% variance between Estimated and Actual Labor Hours may have potential barriers and will be reviewed for the variance's cause(s) in the Barrier Meeting (sometimes referred to as the Performance Meeting).

The Barrier Meeting

Each generation site determines the time, content, attendees and location of its weekly Barrier Meeting. Even though meeting format and content may vary station-to-station, the one consistent element across the fleet is that a weekly Barrier Meeting is held to discuss obstacles impeding efficient and effective work execution. Continuous improvement is expected.

The Production Manager is the owner of the Barrier Process. He prints and reviews a Barrier Report weekly, validating those WOs he feels warrant further review. At his discretion selected WOs are displayed on a Barrier Impact Report which is reviewed at the weekly Barrier Meeting.

At Duke's Allen Steam Station (Belmont, NC), the plant on which this example of the Barrier Process is based, the Barrier Meeting is well-attended with participation from many functions. A tight agenda, prepared handouts and informed, motivated participants keep the meeting productive and results-oriented. Attendees typically include:

• Production Manager (responsible for Station work execution processes)

• Resource Manager (responsible for the planning, scheduling and facilitation of work)

• Engineering Manager (responsible for equipment ownership)

• Production Supervisors (includes Operations, Maintenance and Lab Supervisors)

• Planners, Scheduler and Operations Coordinator

• Material Handling Supervisors (fuels)

• Equipment Owners (responsible for proactive strategies for critical equipment reliability)

• Stores personnel

• Other involved stakeholders like Contractor Representatives, Capital Projects, Turnaround management, Engineering / Technical

The hour-long Barrier Meeting is facilitated and led by the Production Manager, who also distributes an updated Action Items List following the meeting. The agenda includes:

1. Safety discussion and Station-specific information

2. Review Weekly Schedule compliance from the previous week

3. Review PM compliance

4. Review individual WO compliance results (Estimated vs. Actual Hours) by exception

5. Discuss barriers identified during work execution of those WOs (documented by Craft in Maximo and identified by meeting attendees)

6. Identify and assign new action items to resolve or mitigate obstacles

7. Review and update previous week's action items

If the identified barrier can be addressed quickly with the people involved, then it is resolved and followed up on at subsequent Barrier Meetings. If the barrier is more involved and considered a Process Improvement issue, the item is assigned to the Resource Manager and plugged into the Work Process Improvement (WPI) Process. The WPI Process entails establishing a Continuous Improvement Team chartered with goals, objectives and key players who determine root causes, identify solutions and implement actions. They problem solve for continuous improvement.


The Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle for reliability is very much alive at Duke Energy. The Operating Model's guiding principles and Station leadership's work process discipline snap together for improved reliability, availability and cost savings. Results are seen not only at corporate and station management levels, but more importantly, the results are experienced on the production floor and in the maintenance shop. The people who identify, plan, schedule and execute the work and give the feedback in the Barrier Process are removing the obstacles that frustrate them.

They ultimately make the difference on the frontlines of sustaining a continuous improvement culture.

Originally delivered at IMC-2007 - the 22nd International Maintenance Conference  by N. Eric Matthews, P.E. Production Manager, Allen Steam Station, Duke Energy, and Arne Skaalure, Project Manager, RMG

More information about future conference dates and locations is online at

ChatGPT with
Find Your Answers Fast