Asset reliability practices in the reliability centered maintenance world.

Author:Brown, Dan
 
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The days of "broke/fixed" are over.

In today's challenging environment, the electric utility industry faces significant, and sometimes competing, demands. Our retail customers want one hundred percent reliability. No blinking clocks. No lost computer data. But they also want rate stability. Paying more for the reliability they want is not a palatable option.

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Financially, Members in the cooperative world want to continue to see capital credits retired. Shareholders in the public sector want to see their investment grow. Everyone wants return on their investment.

These pressures, combined with current economic conditions, have resulted in an environment where "do more with less" and "work smarter, not harder" are the oft-repeated mantras we must now live by. Now, more than ever, utilities must truly be smarter about how our business is done--not just in the executive offices, but at all levels of the organization.

Enter the "Smart Grid" revolution. An electrical grid that uses information technologies to improve how electricity travels from power plants to consumers, allows consumers to actually interact with the grid, and enables improved response to power demand, more intelligent management of outages and better integration of renewable forms of energy.

But in order to take advantage of "smart grid" to meet customer expectations while 'doing more with less", utilities must evolve their asset management practices.

Most of us remember all too well the operational paradigm of "broke/fixed". Indeed, many of us still operate in that mode today. Something breaks, you fix it. The initiating work order says "X broken". You close the work order out with one word: "fixed". It's a simple, clean way to move work orders and ensure that backlogs aren't created by requiring field personnel to enter copious notes.

Yet the "broke/fixed" approach provided little to no information about the actual state of the assets in the field. Indeed, the "broke/fixed" paradigm is neither the most efficient nor cost-effective approach, and in today's world, with technology readily available for utilities to effectively manage its systems at all levels, it's continued application is, at best, outdated. At worst, it can be a disaster waiting to happen that can cost utilities, and the customers they serve, millions.

Today's necessity to "work smarter, not harder" compels us to think differently--to think in terms of efficiency and effectiveness at all levels of our business, and to leverage technology to get us there. Nowhere...

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