The cost of reliability

Digital Transformation for the betterment of your business can be a daunting task. Check out our key insights from our AIM Power Consulting Partners

Power Generation Expert

By Craig Nicholson

How much is reliability costing you?

Reliability and availability are two industry-wide key performance indicators common to power plant owners. These two KPIs are affected by all equipment in the power plant, each with its given maintenance practices. Over the years, power plants have combined routine maintenance with more invasive scheduled maintenance to meet operational metrics. But at what cost?

Capacity factors and economic viability of thermal power plants continue to be challenged as plants adapt to increasingly competitive power markets, in part, driven by the influx of renewable and decentralized technologies . As such, downward pressures applied to plant maintenance budgets are much more acute today than historical norms and will continue to exacerbate as asset owners face the challenge of keeping plants profitable.

“Power plants have combined routine maintenance with more invasive scheduled maintenance to meet operational metrics. But at what cost?”

Think differently

How can a plant meet its KPI’s yet reduce critical maintenance costs? Simply put, plant maintenance practices require a rethink. Traditional time based maintenance strategies, by design, do not optimize maintenance costs because a periodic inspection does not factor actual equipment condition to determine the right amount of resources required to ensure reliable operation. Reliability comes at a recommendation generally set by equipment manufacturers whose goals may not be aligned with the asset owner.

Think differently about digital too…

Condition based maintenance often relies on the new field of digital monitoring. For the most part, digital technologies sold at the plant level are focused on analytical products designed to detect anomalies, prevent incipient failures and focus on equipment reliability rather than cost reduction. Yet many service providers are selling either a standardized service at a subscription fee or added as a vehicle to increase core product and service revenues. This typically results in digital products that are of diminishing value to the end user. Neither method is a customized solution that fits the needs of the plant.

The golden egg

If we flip the paradigm with a plant digital strategy centered on cost reduction, this can reform current maintenance practices required to reliably maintain equipment with minimum maintenance resources. The power plant, with its vast array of equipment and a multitude of maintenance expenditures, presents a tremendous opportunity to drive out inefficiencies and waste.

Digital Strategy

It’s not what you spend, it’s what you don’t spend that matters. Partnering with AIM to develop a strategy that adopts digital technologies to provide insightful information integrated into day to day operation will enable informed decision making to reduce maintenance spend while ensuring reliability.

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