MechChem Africa’s Peter Middleton talks to Karl Nepgen, a partner consultant for Pragma, about optimising plant ownership and operations by following the Pragma way, a multi-level approach to implementing physical asset management solutions.
Born in South Africa in 1990, Pragma started out as a four-man business operating out of Stellenbosch in the Western Cape Province. The initial value proposition arose from their experience in developing implementable best-practice reliability systems for defence engineering, from which a very structured way of ensuring the reliability of key strategic assets emerged. “These principles were then further ‘pragmatised’ into an asset management solution deliverable to manufacturing and general industry,” Nepgen tells MechChem Africa.
A prominent organisation in modern asset management is the Global Forum for Maintenance and Asset Management (GFMAM), which has identified 39 ‘subjects’ to fully describe the asset management framework. “GFMAM’s set of 39 subjects is a highly practical framework that specifies structured processes to help organisations to implement asset management – and it also touches on delivery and execution aspects,” Nepgen notes.
The other significant International Standard is ISO 55000, which is more management-system oriented. “Preceding these relatively new initiatives, we at Pragma have developed our own structured set of processes that align well to both of these key standards. Called AMIP – Asset Management Improvement Planning – our ‘roadmap’ delivery is based on a comprehensive framework: a structured set of processes, policies and best practices,” he adds.
The detail of AMIP is very comprehensive, consisting of 17 key performance areas (KPAs) and 150 best practices. Key performance indicators (KPIs), linked to the maturity of the organisation’s programme, are also used to measure how well each best practice is being implemented and performed by the organisation.
As an example, Nepgen describes one of the KPAs called Information Management. “Typical best practices for this KPA include the information strategy, which defines the asset-related information a plant should be collecting, recording and reporting in support of its activities.
“One of the KPIs for this best practice is maintenance information velocity, which measures how long it takes for data from a maintenance action – a predictive or repair requirement, for example – to generate an action or decision. We measure the action time and the time it takes to report the results for later analysis.
“A system working well might be able to deliver actionable information within an hour, while it can be up to a week if the asset management system is less mature,” he says.
Pragma’s starting point for implementing AMIP is to determine the maturity of an organisation’s asset management framework and the gaps with reference to benchmarked industry best practises. “We measure five levels of maturity, based on ISO 55000 compliance. At Level 1, plants are in fire-fighting mode, simply fixing things as and when they break down. Level 2 is when plants are stabilising their asset performance and have acknowledged the need and value of improvement. Basic routines and systems are in place, typically based on simple spreadsheets.
“Level 3 involves more preventative approaches and involves better decision-making with a view to improving the overall performance and reliability of equipment. Level 4 is called ‘optimising’ where performance is being improved via feedback from more complex analyses, such as comparing maintenance costs per unit across the organisation or looking at specific costs: per ton mined; per kWh generated; or per kℓ pumped, for example, and looking for continuous operational cost improvement opportunities,” he explains.
The highest maturity level, Level 5, “is about excellence and it is not always economically viable. It is the ideal, super-efficient operation with low breakdown risk and high uptime – a typical requirement of a nuclear power station, for example.”
Nepgen suggests that the sensible aspirational level for South African plants is between Level 3 and Level 4, with sound preventative approaches being used along with some key optimisation initiatives.