Utility Week

UTILITY Week 16th October 2015

Utility Week - authoritative, impartial and essential reading for senior people within utilities, regulators and government

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Page 17 of 31

18 | 16TH - 22ND OCTOBER 2015 | UTILITY WEEK Roundtable New Approaches to Asset Management London, 30 September 2015 Operations & Assets Collaborating to maintain assets Effective asset management starts with effec- tive people management, a Utility Week round- table decided. Lois Vallely reports. G etting the right balance between expe- rience and creativity is essential for utility companies when it comes to successfully managing assets. Collab- oration is key to making partnerships work and finding innovative ways of solv- ing problems. These were the conclusions of Utility Week's roundtable, "New Approaches to Asset Management: Merging Operational Technology with IT and Big Data", held in association with Fujitsu, which took place in London last month. The conversation around the table between executives drawn from utility companies from across the UK quickly set- tled on Donald Rumsfeld's famous "known knowns" speech as a perfect description of the difficulties facing utilities. Speakers said that oen what ends up being talked about is how to solve a known problem with a known solution. However, the real problems facing the utilities sector are the "unknown unknowns" – the problems that companies don't even realise they have. The way to fix problems is by working col- laboratively. Participants were in agreement that working together is vital if a systematic approach is to be developed to problem- solving. Water and energy companies, along with their supply chains, must "get together and start talking" about the best ways to manage their assets. What's more, diversity must be kept in asset management teams. Knowledge is indispensable to any firm, but the right bal- Views from the table: ance must be struck between experienced staff and creative minds. Out-of-the-box thinking should be used by companies to identify and solve problems they did not known they had. But what's the flipside of innovation? Companies must not forget that technical experience is as important as inno- vative thinking. The right employee can "do the clever stuff " as well as the creative, said one attendee. The overarching focus should be on cus- tomer satisfaction. Delegates heard that it is not just a case of "fixing the asset and leav- ing", but of making sure customers experi- ence minimal disruption in the process. Data is the fundamental foundation for everything. But how do you rely on the data when the engineers collecting it haven't been properly trained to understand what it will be used for? Speakers agreed that there is very little incentive for making the data accurate, because they are oen "discon- nected" from the organisation. Incentivising the inspectors to collect and enter accurate data could be done through techniques such as "gamification", which has worked well in other sectors. Participants concluded that companies in both the energy and water sectors must work together and share knowledge in order to come up with innovative ways of maximis- ing their existing assets. They must encour- age their workforces to collect and analyse data in a more accurate way, or else take the human element out entirely. Euan Burns, chief engineer, Carillion Services "A lot of things that we end up talking about with clients are about solving a known problem with a known solution. Where I really want to work is in unknown unknowns and drive them out, so we actually say: 'Don't worry about the problem, we'll work together collaboratively or in silos and say what's the next thing we can do?'" John Kingdon, framework director, Costain "We're all in this together and must

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