Assessing Performance in the Age of Digital Transformation

The advent of digital transformation has changed how companies think about OPEX, especially in capital-intensive facilities, such as power plants, refineries, and manufacturing plants, where operations technology is converging with information technology. Companies can now leverage multiple sources of data to assess their performance and make better decisions that allow them to support critical goals of establishing repeatable processes in addition to being more efficient, innovative, and competitive throughout their operations.

When assessing performance, organizations employ various methods to gather data and answer critical questions. Generally supported with expertise from independent third parties, these assessments can include a combination of in-house observations, focus groups, interviews, off-site surveys, data analysis, and benchmarking.

New technologies, such as digital OPEX assessments, can help simplify the process significantly. An effective assessment tool:

  • Compares data to both past performance as well as industry-recognized standards
  • Helps companies determine if they are in the top or bottom quartiles compared to peers
  • Identifies where performance gaps are affecting performance
  • Uncovers areas that are already best-in-class
  • Tracks data over time to provide senior leadership with accurate and actionable insights

When assessing the effectiveness of your plant’s OPEX program, consider the following key guidelines:

  • Identify and prioritize the performance standards that should be addressed.
  • Determine the key performance indicators you will measure and track over time to verify positive changes.
  • Execute OPEX assessments in a consistent and repeatable manner using predesigned checklists.
  • Use a rating system or maturity matrix for evaluating the current state of each standard to be analyzed.
  • Track and report OPEX improvements over time.
  • Provide effective dashboards and reports to both senior leadership and key team members at the asset level.
  • Document where the people, technology, assets, and processes are meeting best practices and where they could improve.

Standards for excellence in capital-intensive facilities are typically developed for human resources, operations, maintenance, HSE, risk management, compliance, and many other areas. Some of the more common OPEX standards are highly technical or equipment-based, while others address more holistic topics like safety, document control, plant labeling, and code of conduct. The graphic shown below illustrates the digital ratings from a past OPEX assessment. The ratings were assigned from on-site observations, interviews, equipment inspections, procedure and documentation inspections, HSE incident rates, OEE metrics, product output vs. design capacity, and more.

assessing performance

This snapshot of one section of an assessment dashboard shows a comparison between different combined-cycle and coal-fired plants. Dashboards like these show gaps, needed focus areas, progress toward goals, and other critical data points.

Following an established set of standards has always been extremely important in striving for OPEX. However, as technology continues to evolve, tracking and analyzing these standards becomes easier and more accurate, enabling us to identify gaps and address them more precisely than ever before.

This post was originally published in BIC Magazine. Learn more about improving operational excellence programs here, from a visual slideshare detailing an operational excellence model, to a full library of webinars, white papers, and more.

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Russ Garrity

Russ Garrity

Mr. Garrity is a Senior Director within the Performance and Technical Services Division of GP Strategies.He has 33 years of experience with all types of fossil-fueled, combined cycle, and alternative energy power plants across the globe.Mr. Garrity has an Engineering degree from Southeastern Massachusetts University, and he currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Yampa Valley Electric Association in northwestern Colorado.

During his career, Mr. Garrity has supported power companies within the United States, South Africa, Abu Dhabi, Malaysia, Singapore, Chile, Morocco, and other many countries.For the past 10 years, he has supported Operational Excellence projects for various power generation facilities that face increasing competitive pressures.
Russ Garrity

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