NAM under the microscope

Timothy Schlimpert, MCR Performance Solutions

Nuclear asset management (NAM) is a frequent conference topic and falls into the “difficult to implement” category. Making comprehensive decisions at all levels of a nuclear generation business requires true operational implementation of the corporate strategic plan in terms of safety, reliability and profitability.

Operational implementation means core operational processes, such as equipment reliability, configuration management and work management, must integrate seamlessly with business planning processes, such as long-range planning and budgeting. It is this seamless integration of core processes with business planning that is recognized as a top priority for the nuclear industry.

The broad scope of NAM makes it the industry initiative requiring the utmost in organizational coordination, major process integration and senior executive focus.

Good practices for a future direction

Creating a vision of how NAM processes could effectively work together begins with attributes that describe good practices in NAM. Many of the parameters required to effectively implement NAM are developed by leveraging industry benchmarks and other information sources.

Process. From a process perspective, good practices supporting NAM must focus on the integration of and feedback between NAM processes. Processes in place must:

“- Ensure system or component health systems provide a formal handoff to the long-range plan;
“- Make sure the business plan includes financial targets from the long-range financial plan as well as a long-range work plan that includes all work and a workforce plan;
“- Ensure an integrated long-range plan is a direct central source of input to the budget process.

Technology. From a technology perspective, good practices help overcome information silos created by process-focused applications. Good practices in technology should:

“- Maintain a common tool with open, convenient access by all participants to encourage universal ownership of NAM processes;
“- Specifically ensure system and component health systems are tied to the long-range plan;
“- Include a structured project prioritization approach to evaluate safety, reliability and financial considerations;
“- Support a long-range plan containing financial targets, all work, and the workforce;
“- Integrate the long-range plan with budget development.

People/culture. The culture of an organization is led from the top, fed by communication, and embraced from the bottom-up with practicality. As such, good practices in people/culture will:

“- Provide a top-down vision of NAM;
“- Establish an executive asset management team to lead by example;
“- Maintain proactive communications to encourage universal ownership of NAM;
“- Instill in all participants a focus on the need to operate reliably to the end of plant life for all relevant decisions;
“- Clearly articulate priorities in terms of safety, reliability and financial objectives.

Outlining the solution

NAM drivers can be integrated to address silos and to optimize use of available resources. The direct connection between equipment reliability and work management represents approved and ongoing planned/preventive/predictive maintenance act-ivities. An ongoing preventive maintenance optimization program must be the custodian of this linkage. In order to add any planned maintenance over a specific threshold, the request must enter the long-range planning process to be evaluated against standard criteria. Additionally, any design change or other project based work must also enter the long-range planning process for structured prioritization and evaluation prior to expending significant resources defining the change. Once a new initiative meets approval criteria and has funding for the desired period, it can enter the configuration management or work management processes as appropriate for planning and scheduling.

A unified NAM process should ensure all work makes its way into the long-range plan, where prioritization and resource constraints refine the plan and risk considerations are validated. When performance goals and risk considerations cannot be aligned, a process to reconcile competing priorities will ensure all objectives are met appropriately.

Schlimpert leads the power plant operations excellence practice at MCR Performance Solutions. He can be reached at tschlimpert@mcr-group.com. This article is an excerpt of a longer paper titled “Whose Job Is It? How We Move Nuclear Asset Management from Board Rooms to Power Plants.” More information on the paper can be found at www.mcr-group.com/whitepapers_list_operations.asp or by calling 847-562-0066.

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