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Maintenance and refurbishment

Conference: African Utility Week
Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Presenter: Deon Stans
Abstract: Presented by Deon Stans at African Utility Week

Plant refurbishment is currently one of the core activities in Power Generation by Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM’s). For decades utility boilers were built and refurbished with great success and hence a very proud reputation. The then economic era reduced this to only refurbishment. The last utility boiler in South Africa was completed late 1990’s.

Various dramatic events were then experienced, such as:

  • Dramatic company down sizing
  • Loss of world renown workshops(fabrication facility)

From early 2000’s OEM’s were focusing mainly on refurbishment in the Power Generating Industry. Refurbishment of OEM erected plant was done and is still done with great success. Tenders were submitted in 2003 for the first unit to be returned from a long term mothballed status. These plants were in long term storage for over ten years. Tendering on old plant has various challenges, such as: Interpretation of provided scope, plant information to set the standard for refurbishment, hidden refurbishment difficulties, spares availability, material availability, availability of original equipment suppliers, etc.

Theory then asks for balance:

  • Cost
  • Time
  • Quality

This is valid for any type of contacting method. There are a number of aspects needed for proper execution of such a project: well defined scope with good understanding thereof, a well structured and detailed plan (the level of detail is always a dispute), availability of resources (labor, material, spares, and equipment), a realistic time frame, etc.

Various aspects are expected to be in place, all related to a company’s infrastructure: Financial system, Project management system, Material control system, Labor supply system, etc. Projects out of the normal (size {equipment, labor, skills, experience (own & client), unrealistic expectations), typical work scope, geographical area, etc) can expose shortcomings in current infrastructure.

Success then lies in the ability to identify and acknowledge shortcomings, identify and formulate interim methods while permanent solutions are engineered. Future success is then dependant on the quality of the long term solutions and its ability to anticipated future technology developments, economic and company growth and ultimately company vision.

One of the biggest challenges then, is to change old habits to the new vision and strategy. Change management is ultimately the biggest challenge to ensure long term success.

All of these ultimately impact on profitability, and profitability is again a function of the theoretical balance between

  • Cost
  • Time
  • Quality

The presentation is aimed to share experiences on the growth of infrastructure to execute projects and the quality of project management to optimize the above balance and ensure long term success.