Achieving Operational Excellence Through Asset Management

By Charbel Rouhana, P. Eng, MBA

In a growing industry trend, we see an increased understanding of the return on investment delivered through a strategic approach to asset management and its impact on operational excellence. Asset Management is the study and analysis of company data, specifically relating to risk mitigation, financial performance, and operational activity. It’s about optimizing, integrating, finding inefficiencies, mitigating risks and liabilities, and elevating the performance of our people and technology. The audit and assessment of multiple data points by experienced professionals allows for the development of clear actions aimed at increasing company value and performance in the most cost-effective way. It’s an exciting time for those of us who work in this field as our capabilities continue to evolve at a rapid pace, thanks to technology and the ability to integrate and interpret real-time data.

Without a thorough review of total company processes, systems can fall, resulting in unbudgeted funds being diverted to find stop-gap solutions. Identifying weaknesses in a company’s assets, technology, and equipment is just the start. As our industry continues its rapid transformation in meeting ESG goals, ‘assets’ include our people and their ability to perform their work safely, efficiently, and with excellence; our ability to meet all regulatory requirements and to transparently report our performance; and ensuring our operations management systems and digital technology are seamlessly integrated.

In our experience at Lauren Services, asset management is a necessity for companies wishing to grow, increase their value, and improve operations — objectives increasingly mandated by boards, investors, and stakeholders. Our team has a depth of experience in helping diverse clients across the energy industry discover new and smarter ways of working by examining the total operation from a macro level and then zooming in on each core area of operational effectiveness. We have always seen tremendous benefits, regardless of company size. The goal is continuous improvement across all your assets.

We have seen firsthand the positive impact of asset management strategies we have developed and implemented in partnership with our clients. For one client, we assessed and created a strategy for their operations management team to reduce yearly OPEX costs by 10%; for another, we assessed the scheduling and planning tool for the client to simplify systems related to processing, down time, and maintenance; and for yet another client, we increased their asset availability and reliability by a thorough review of their maintenance and operations strategy.

Our approach to asset management to achieve operational excellence takes a proven approach to investigate the following core business areas:

  • Process improvement
  • Operation readiness and risk management
  • Field efficiency
  • Operations management systems
  • Digital technologies
  • Regulatory, safety and environment
  • Energy transition  

To develop a customized strategy, we conduct the following:

  • Lifecycle analysis
  • Asset reliability studies
  • Review of environmental processes to reduce emissions
  • Digital transformation of facilities to reduce maintenance and operational costs while implementing new technology and communication best-practices
  • Audit of inventory management systems
  • Return On Investment (ROI) Analysis
  • Return On Capital Expenditure (ROCE) Analysis
  • Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM)
  • Reliability Availability Maintainability (RAM)
  • OPEX Forecasting analysis
  • CAPEX Allocation Analysis
  • Maintenance Review Strategy
  • Operations Review Strategy

Conducting and implementing an asset management strategy with a specialized consulting group is an investment in profitability and revenue generation. Operational Readiness incorporates a plan that establishes the conditions for success for an asset ahead of implementation by reducing additional costs and possible errors and increasing the likelihood of improved production, understanding, and workflow. This begins with a thorough audit of operational readiness by examining the state of operational effectiveness across projects (project documentation, drawings, manuals, test results, and training); within operations itself (operations staff, operating procedures, handover verification); and maintenance (equipment database updates, maintenance procedures etc.).

We then move to Field Efficiency, which looks at the success of newly added assets from beginning to end, relying on open communication and client support to ensure the process runs efficiently. It’s important here to look at the asset from every operational point of view: utilization, efficiency, productivity, customer satisfaction, and of course the human resource element.

Mitigating risk by identifying gaps before breakdowns or accidents occur provides your customers with the needed confidence to continue investing in your services. The Operational Risk Management (ORM) process focuses on the safety of employees, contractors, and vendors; potential for impact on environment and local communities; potential for loss of production by analyzing the likelihood of the event to occur, consequences if the event occurs, and mitigation of that risk via specific maintenance and inspection activities.

This leads to the development of the Operations Management System: a detailed, systematized roadmap that goes in-depth into the approach, operation, management, and optimization of the project or asset and resulting expectations. At Lauren Services, we find most companies have many overlapping goals that can all be addressed by an effective Operations Management System, including incident prevention, enhanced safety culture, risk identification and management, regulatory compliance, operational performance, organization collaboration, and increasingly, stakeholder management.

The Operation Digital Technologies review encompasses a wide range of relevant data to achieve seamless integration between people, process, and technology. This includes making sure the appropriate technology and platforms are accessible to employees so that they may be informed in real time, improving productivity and collaboration. We’ve seen great success helping companies implement systems including SAP, one of the world’s leading producers of software for the management of business processes, developing solutions that facilitate effective data processing and information flow across organizations; IBM Maximo Manage, an enterprise asset management software originally released in 1985 and continually updated; Tableau, a platform that can take any kind of data from almost any system and turn it into actionable insights; and Bentley, a comprehensive solution for developing proactive inspection and maintenance programs for new or existing assets.

Lastly, and most certainly not least, operational excellence is completed by ensuring the appropriate Regulatory, Safety, and Environment (RS&E) services are in compliance. This is becoming increasingly vital as our industry adapts to a changing regulatory regime while also positioning for competitive advantage by anticipating and preparing for the future world in which we will design, build, and operate our assets. Our view to RS&E includes compliance, fulsome emergency response planning, asset integrity, safety services and training, and waste tracking and management.

An intelligent approach to asset management makes our industry safer, more efficient, more sustainable, and more profitable. At Lauren, our team of experts has significant experience in conducting asset management audits, developing custom plans, and helping clients implement and integrate. Our founders shared a vision to provide the finest engineering services delivered with highly customized, hands-on client service, and we continue this tradition by offering the depth of larger firms while remaining intentionally nimble and flexible.

(Charbel Rouhana, P. Eng, MBA, is director of asset management at Lauren Services. He holds a Bachelor of Science, Diploma in Electronics and Physics; Bachelor of Science, Mechanical Engineering; And a Master’s in Business Administration from Queens and Cornell Universities)

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