Hydropower producers make economic choices constantly to maintain the reliability and safety of their assets while trying to operate efficiently and meet regulations. It’s not easy. It’s also never-ending. Facilities age, rules change, economics evolve.
Asset Management, in capital letter terms, is an approach to making all those decisions deliberate, purposeful, and comprehensive. When well-constructed, it’s a powerful tool. As the EPA says, it helps producers make an inventory of critical assets, evaluate their condition and performance, and put strategies in place to pay for their maintenance and replacement.
The following sections provide an overview of five core components to an effective Asset Management program. Success depends on execution. Generally, though, the method helps to balance risk and performance, service quality, and financial, environmental and social costs.
At the outset, it is essential to establish a framework and guiding principles for making asset- and investment-related decisions. Ideally, the framework provides a direct connection between leaders and operators. A perfect tool for the job is the global standard for asset management development and support provided by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Its set of three standards –– ISO 55000, 55001 and 55002 – offer best practices that can be used as a checklist for program development and support.
Asset Management prioritizes projects based on risk, particularly the likelihood of failure and the consequences of failure, helping organizations implement the right projects at the right time. It requires assessing asset conditions, evaluating their needs and ranking them according to a risk profile. For sophisticated systems, prioritization may include a comprehensive value analysis of each project and a calculated score for business risk exposure, coupled with considerations for asset criticality, safety, resilience and regulatory requirements. By quantifying project risk, including understanding the possible impacts of deferment, the capital improvement plan can be optimized portfolio-wide.
Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) and Enterprise Asset Management System (EAMS) solutions can help hydropower producers maximize their information technology investments. While powerful, these systems can be outdated. Multiple systems may be in use, resulting in competing demands to keep them operating. Successful assessment and implementation depend on understanding:
- The characteristics and qualities of the systems and how they map to organizational requirements
- Whether existing business practices and processes are optimal for automation
- How to configure the solutions to the organization’s practices and processes
Attempting to make their assets operate more efficiently for longer periods of time, organizations must balance their performance and reliability needs with competing demands for resources. Tools including Failure Modes Effects Analysis and Root Cause Failure Analysis can help to focus resources in support of the most effective maintenance, rehabilitation or replacement strategies.
The better an organization understands the conditions of its assets, the better equipped it is to make decisions regarding rehabilitation or replacement projects. One effective inspection strategy is to use the latest condition assessment standards. Organizations that produce such standards include the Centre for Energy Advancement through Technological Innovation (CEATI), the Hydropower Asset Management Partnership (hydroAMP) under CEATI’s Hydraulic Plant Life Interest Group, the Risk Management Center (RMC) under the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers’ Institute for Water Resources, and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). Condition assessments are also used to fine tune project priorities.
An Asset Management program with Black & Veatch answers five fundamental questions: the current state of assets, the required sustainable level of service, the assets that are critical to sustained performance, minimum lifecycle costs, and the best long-term funding strategy.
Our approach helps to optimize capital and operating costs, minimize risk, enhance customer service, and make investments that support the organization’s vision and goals.
Learn more about Black & Veatch's Hydropower solutions.
About the Author
Carlos Araoz is Vice President of Black & Veatch's Hyrdopower & Hydraulic Structures group. He is focused on lifecycle hydropower and hydraulic structure solutions.