Asset management: The route to OpEx

As with any asset-intensive industry, to achieve OpEx in the energy sector, it is essential to optimise risk & expenditures over the lifecycle of the organisation's asset

Abdul Azim Azeez, senior consultant, Product Success at Bentley Systems, is responsible for engaging with industry executives and practitioners to assess their technical and business needs.
Abdul Azim Azeez, senior consultant, Product Success at Bentley Systems, is responsible for engaging with industry executives and practitioners to assess their technical and business needs.

Conceptually, operational excellence (OpEx) requires that organisations strive for ongoing improvement in order to accomplish strategic objectives and successfully meet key stakeholder expectations. In the oil and gas industry, it is essential for organisations to consider asset performance management as part of the journey to operational excellence. In fact, the focus on OpEx should begin at the inception of a project at the point where the business requirements for the project are determined and carry through to construction and into operations.

As is true with any asset-intensive industry, to achieve OpEx in the oil and gas sector, it is essential to optimise risk, performance, and expenditures over the entire lifecycle of the organisation’s asset portfolio. Optimising is different from balancing. Optimising entails establishing the most favourable combination of lifecycle cost, risk, and performance losses. Balancing, however, denotes equalisation of the variables, which may not necessarily achieve the lowest combined costs and impact. So, when optimising, we strive to achieve the lowest total cost of ownership and strive towards organisational excellence.

Line of sight

An organisation’s strategic plan and objectives are the drivers of the asset performance management system. These plans direct the optimal combination of lifecycle activities to be applied across the asset portfolio. This top-down alignment of the corporate direction and goals down to the individual’s day-to-day activities is what constitutes line of sight.

Similarly, as part of the continual improvement process, the bottom-up feedback loop is essential. Day-to-day realities provide the basis for improving the asset management strategies and plans.

Three Cs of the three Ps

Three Cs of the Three Ps – Consistent, Controlled, and Continuous Improvement of the Plant, People, and Processes. The plant, people, and processes need to move together consistently toward achieving a business outcome. Progress should be monitored and plans and actions adjusted in a controlled manner to enable continuous improvement.

In theory, this concept seems very simple. However, it is not unlikely for organisations to face road blocks along the OpEx journey. Organisational issues and information management challenges can add new levels of complexity to achieving line of sight and the three C’s of improvement. Identifying and working through these challenges is imperative to OpEx.

Organisational design

The organisation’s structure is the foundation of OpEx success, which should be designed to maximise interdepartmental coordination, monitor and adapt to change, and define clear roles and responsibilities.

While there is no single best organisational design, different structures have different strengths and weaknesses.

It is important to examine the success of the structure and adjust the design according to the organisation’s changing needs.

Culture drives performance and behaviour in the workplace, and it should be managed proactively. Changes in organisational culture require education, training, communication, facilitation, compromise, and support for those affected. Furthermore, it is useful to present reasons behind the change, and to involve the affected groups in defining the cultural direction of the organisation.

In any case, it is important to note that changes in culture take time and require planning and consistency.

Supplier management

Organisations must actively engage suppliers and strategically manage relationships to achieve line of sight and deliver business objectives. The process begins with clearly defining performance criteria and requirements. The amount of resources and time spent on this effort depends on the criticality of the supplier to the organisation, which can be determined by assessing two factors: the value of the goods supplied and the supply risk such as scarcity of the materials, logistical delivery difficulties, or lack of suppliers.

Asset Information Management

To effectively manage asset information, the technology (plant), organisation (people), and business (processes) should align, allowing information to flow seamlessly through the different phases of the asset lifecycle. A fundamental benefit of Bentley’s approach is that all the information on the asset’s design (MicroStation), build (ProjectWise), and O&M (AssetWise) phase is underpinned by a connected data environment (CDE). The CDE is the common source used to collect, manage, and share information about the digital asset. It facilitates collaboration between project team members and owner-operators avoiding duplication and mistakes by incorporating multiple sources of data into a federated model.

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