No more tension about maintenance
Having electricity seems so obvious, just like water from the tap or gas for cooking. But to make the electricity grid future-proof and to ensure that there are as few failures as possible, maintenance of connections, cables and pipes is of great importance. Stedin is grid manager in most of the Randstad, where busy urban areas depend on electricity to live, work and play. They wanted to further optimize the maintenance work of their employees in the field.
Working more efficiently and achieving significant cost savings
In June 2016, Roy Coonen joined Joulz Energy Solutions, now the High Voltage business unit at Stedin, where he is now Manager High Voltage, as Manager Management & Maintenance. We asked Roy what main challenge he was given as an assignment. “Working at least 5% more efficiently every year and realizing cost savings in maintenance,” was his concrete answer. In order to achieve this goal, the team identified various actions. Two of them stood out. On the one hand, there was a need for a better Maintenance Management System and, on the other hand, an efficient Field Service Application had to be created. These two challenges were tackled together with B-Synergy.
Challenges in daily maintenance work
“If you don’t have a good Work Order system, you’re already inefficient,” says Roy. Maintenance engineers of high-voltage installations used a large number of inspection and reporting forms that were not always used and completed in a correct and unambiguous way. For example, outdated forms could be used. There were also many manual, inefficient processes. “Work planners who, for example, start building another list from one,” is how Roy explains it in a clear way. Without a good Maintenance Management System, it was impossible to make efficient maintenance plans.
Uncertainties also arose in the area of management. For example, it could be written on paper that no more maintenance was allowed, for example on a specific switching station. But in practice it turned out that the maintenance engineer in the field was not aware of this decision, or had simply missed the notification. Roy emphasizes that in this phase it was important to have the basis in place first.
Cost spread and predictability of maintenance work
Roy compares the high voltage maintenance activities with the maintenance you need for your home. This is based on an important core idea: “You don’t want to be confronted suddenly with all the maintenance costs in one year, but preferably spread out over the years” is how he puts it. A new Maintenance Management System could bring all maintenance data together in one central system. This would allow the maintenance work of the field services to be spread more evenly over the years. By collecting data from monthly inspections, for example, the predictability of maintenance work should increase. This in turn will lead to better planning.
The Agile Approach of B-Synergy
Firstly, a team was assembled together wirh B-Synergy. During the inception phase, this team had the task of clearly formulating the goals. Interesting is a statement Roy makes in this regard: “Too many requirements does not produce a result, but a technical study.” We therefore defined the basic goal well, namely to improve the maintenance process in as many standard activities as possible. But also the correct use of the necessary inspection forms. Initially there were 8 people, but then the team got smaller. We created a product backlog that was completed pragmatically by means of accurately timed sprints. The first focus was on improving the basic maintenance activities. Subsequently, at a later stage, all processes related to repairs and fault reports were added. A completely new Maintenance Management System could therefore be delivered.
“If we had decided to deliver a whole system in one go, we would have either had nothing yet or a system that was not built as a custom system for us.”
Field service automation in practice
Maintenance Workers now only receive the information that is specifically needed for the maintenance job in question. In the past, for example, inspection documents were long and time-consuming lists that had to be gone through and filled in for each job. Making forms dynamic, depending on the job at hand, resulted in major time savings.
But there is another important benefit. In the past, maintenance workers in the field had to log into all kinds of systems to collect all the right information. This could lead to mistakes. Now, all the necessary information is delivered to them like a serving sheet through the application. “A push of the right information is better than a pull, because then you can ask for the wrong information,” is how Roy explains it. In order to increase support, internal training courses for maintenance employees were carried out by the company’s own people. Of course with the necessary support from B-Synergy.
- Huge savings in maintenance costs >15% over the past three years, which can be expressed in millions of euros.
- More predictable multi-year maintenance plans. (Risk spreading)
- The chance of suddenly needed extra capacity of maintenance staff decreases. (Smoother planning)
- Field staff, Planners and Developers can use the centrally gathered data from the Maintenance Management System. This is better for mutual contact, but above all for providing the correct information to the customer.
- Fewer errors in the field during maintenance work.
- Time savings on administrative work, leaving more time for even better maintenance.
- Integration with SAP automatically updates the order status.
“If you want to be able to continuously improve together, you always need a good basis. B-Synergy and Stedin laid that foundation together,” concludes Roy. Both the Maintenance Management System and the Field Service Automation System have been delivered and taken into the management of the IT organization of High Voltage.
On behalf of B-Synergy, we would of course like to thank Roy Coonen for sharing his practical experiences. We wish him and his team the best of luck in their responsible job of keeping the Stedin electricity grid that so many people depend on every day fit for the future.
Can B-Synergy also do something for your organization?
We have gained a lot of experience in improving processes around maintenance and repair activities. For example, B-Synergy has built a fully integrated ‘Plant Maintenance Platform‘ for a global chemical concern. Technicians and Planners use the platform for managing maintenance and repairs. The platform consists of native applications for use on cell phones and tablets, as well as a very extensive web application. For a seamless transition between different devices, the applications are built multichannel.
Would you also like to have less tension? Then please take a look at our SAP Mobile Plant Maintenance software.