Last week, energy consultancy EON Consulting said some organisations were changing at a pace faster than the rate of learning, a prominent asset management issue which needs to be resolved.
Speaking at African Utility Week, in Cape Town, principal consultant at EON Cornelius van der Westhuizen gave a presentation on possible solutions to energy asset management challenges, saying the problem with asset management in Africa lies with degradation of current equipment, misalignment on technology with people or resources, a lack of continual investment in maintenance and refurbishment and insufficient proactive investment in new capacity in line with growth.
Van der Westhuizen said: “There is a perception that new technology is easy to integrate and that it automatically results in improved effectiveness in operations.”
“However, this is a very narrow way of viewing things. It is because of this assumption that organisations continue to invest in new technology, introduce new systems, equipment and way of doing things – and yet fail to achieve better results.”
He added: “Sometimes organisations end in worse situations than was the case before the so-called improvements were implemented.”
Achieving balance for optimal output
According to Van der Westhuizen, many organisations lack the knowledge of how to correctly match their assets to the skillset available to them, which in turn effects the quality of output.
“In some cases we found that the rate of change in an organisation is faster than the rate of learning,” Van der Westhuizen said.
He added: “It is essential for organisations to take the time to invest in skills development to ensure that people have the ability to operate new equipment or systems at the correct pace, and to give them time to adapt to new systems.”
Van der Westhuizen also commented that one of the biggest challenges in asset management practices is an increase in audit window-dressing on standards and regulation requirements.
He said: “Companies are no longer applying the standards, they fabricate evidence for auditors, and this is a costly exercise, because at the end of it, if assets are not well managed, things will break down and the cracks will eventually begin to show.”
Addressing some of the issues
Van der Westhuizen highlighted three key areas in his presentation which should be considered when looking at potential asset management solutions.
- A commitment by business or management to release people from day-to-day operations in order to focus on skills development.
- Technology must be introduced in a manner that will not alienate the resources from the technology
- A commitment from business or management to make the skills development programme a success, track and monitor progress, and identify gaps and address them effectively and promptly to ensure optimum results
Van der Westhuizen highlighted: “We need to make sure that regulation is well embedded in organisations, and that it becomes a part of the process and that people accept it as part of their work and not as something they have to do to keep compliant; only then can we begin to address some of the big issues in asset management.
“The current trend is that companies copy best practices from other companies and apply them to their situation without evaluating or assessing the feasibility of such practices.
He concluded: “The reality is that best practices for one company may not work for another. It is critical to first test the best practice on a pilot and establish whether or not it would work for your case, if not, then further explore other avenues.”