Tuesday May 13, 2014

Powering Up: How Eskom Is Driving the Largest Infrastructure Program in Africa

Join Eskom CIO Sal Laher to hear firsthand how Eskom–the largest utility in South Africa–has embarked on a transformational journey to implement the largest infrastructure capital investment portfolio in Africa. From actionable metrics through to subcontractor management, Eskom is vastly improving visibility, increasing responsiveness, and driving greater efficiency across a myriad of critical new builds. The utility is creating significant numbers of new jobs and strengthening the delivery of basic services to the people of South Africa in a fast-growing economy. Laher provides information and experiences from Eskom’s own build program.

Watch the keynote presented at Oracle’s Industry Connect here.

Friday May 02, 2014

Critical Path: Getting Your Outage Ducks in a Row

Witten by: Aaron Larson, POWER Magazine

Productive maintenance turnarounds are vital to long, successful online periods. Getting the work done quickly and properly takes more than just luck. Good planning and excellent communication can lead to safe and efficient outages with fewer hiccups and less stress.

It’s no secret that equipment requires maintenance. Just as your personal vehicle needs an oil change periodically, a power plant needs to shut down regularly for a tune-up to take care of all those little issues that would otherwise turn into big problems.

Most generating companies are preparing for outages continuously. When one outage ends, plans begin for the next. Often planning is in progress for major projects years into the future (Figure 1). Work list items that could not be completed for one reason or another are added to the next outage schedule. The entire process is a full-time job, often with entire departments focused on the task.

But what makes some maintenance periods go smoothly—coming in on budget and on time—while other outages hemorrhage with cost overruns, unexpected delays, and continual surprises? It is very difficult to foresee every possible problem, but planning for contingencies and scheduling appropriately are two vital tasks required to get all involved parties on the same page.

Read the complete article here

Tuesday Apr 29, 2014

New Research: Improved Project Management Is Key to Reducing Infrastructure Risks in Energy, Power, and Chemicals Industries

The process manufacturing industry is confronting significant infrastructure problems that heighten risks to operations and leave executives struggling to bring their ageing facilities into the twenty-first century, according to a new report by the Economist Intelligence Unit and sponsored by Oracle. One executive put the challenge in stark terms, saying "It takes years to build a reputation, but one serious infrastructure failure can destroy it." 

The report, "The Impact of Aging Infrastructure in Process Manufacturing Industries," is based on a recent survey of 366 executives. The research found that aging systems are negatively impacting—sometimes substantially—companies in oil and gas, utilities, chemicals, and natural resource industries. A commanding majority—87 percent of the respondents—said aging infrastructure has impacted operations in the past 3 to 5 years, with 1 in 10 saying they suffered severe consequences that they are still trying to fix.
But as a group, the executives see a way to improve agility and seize new opportunities while protecting customers, employees, operations, and corporate images from costly infrastructure failures. The best solutions involve a blend of technology, project planning, and due diligence, the report stated. The executives added that these elements help organizations identify and resolve problems before crises occur.

Find out how others in the power and energy sector are adapting and developing new strategies to address the issues of ageing infrastructure. Compare your own experiences and strategies against those of your peers with Oracle’s interactive benchmarking test, take the test and receive a complimentary four-page personalized report http://oracleevent.com/18378/edm/img/spacer.gifIt’s a simple 5 minute test that gives you an instant graphical snapshot and recommendations on how to turn your organization’s ageing infrastructure issues into an opportunity.

Monday Mar 03, 2014

Keeping the Lights On: Transform your business today to meet the challenges of tomorrow

Written by: Iain Graham, Director, Process Manufacturing Strategy, Oracle Primavera

In all the years I’ve worked with the energy and utilities sector, it seems that two things remain constant: the need to replace or repair ageing infrastructure and the apparent low level of funds available to many organizations to do so. In many instances, the infrastructure that these organizations rely on is ageing faster than it is being replaced. I suspect those tasked with keeping these assets up and running might recognize the phrases “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” and “out of sight, out of mind” when seeking more investment for preventative work. Yet failure to adequately address ageing infrastructure can cause a big headache for many companies, diverting resources and funds to remedial action and possibly impeding growth.

Customers don’t always fully understand the issues energy and utility companies face and expect a reliable yet lowest-cost service. The result is that, pushed to keep costs down, companies continue to sweat their infrastructure assets beyond their original intended life so as to maximize operational value, while even further demands are placed on those assets through growth. This approach brings increased risk of an infrastructure failure and no one wants to be to blame when the lights go out.

A new report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), based on a global survey of executives in the oil & gas, utility, chemical and natural resource industries, examines the impact of ageing infrastructure. A key finding in the report is that one of the biggest perceived obstacles for organizations is meeting infrastructure maintenance schedule and budget goals, resulting in poor project planning, regulatory interference and a lack of resources. In addressing those obstacles, there are things some companies may do to ease the problem of aging infrastructure, without necessarily requiring large-scale additional funding. The report found that many organizations believed they could overcome obstacles, meet budget and expansion goals through better planning processes. Deploying enterprise project portfolio management (EPPM) could help to optimize use of key resources, improve planning and project execution, and prioritize the right projects, amongst other benefits.

You can read the full report here.

Monday Nov 11, 2013

EPPM Is a Must-Have Capability as Global Energy and Power Industries Eye US$38 Trillion in New Investments

“The process manufacturing industry is facing an unprecedented challenge: from now until 2035, cumulative worldwide investments of US$38 trillion will be required for drilling, power generation, and other energy projects,” Iain Graham, director of energy and process manufacturing for Oracle’s Primavera, said in a recent webcast. He adds that process manufacturing organizations such as oil and gas, utilities, and chemicals must manage this level of investment in an environment of constrained capital markets, erratic supply and demand, aging infrastructure, heightened regulations, and declining global skills. In the following interview, Graham explains how the right enterprise project portfolio management (EPPM) technology can help the industry meet these imperatives. Project Portfolio Management Solutions for Capital Projects

Q: Why is EPPM so important for today’s process manufacturers?
A: If the industry invests US$38 trillion without proper cost controls in place, a huge amount of resources will be put at risk, especially when it comes to cost overruns that may occur in large capital projects. Process manufacturing companies must not only control costs, but also monitor all the various contractors that will be involved in each project. If you’re not managing your own workers and all the interdependencies among the different contractors, then you’ve got problems.

Q: What else should process manufacturers look for?
A: It’s also important that an EPPM solution has the ability to manage more than just capital projects. For example, it’s best to manage maintenance and capital projects in the same system. Say you’re due to install a new transformer in a power station as part of a capital project, but routine maintenance in that area of the facility is scheduled for that morning. The lack of coordination could lead to unforeseen delays. There are also IT considerations that impact capital projects, such as adding servers and network cable for a control system in a power station. What organizations need is a true EPPM system that’s not just for capital projects, maintenance, or IT activities, but instead an enterprisewide solution that provides visibility into all types of projects.

Read the complete Q&A here and discover the practical framework for successfully managing this massive capital spending.

Friday Sep 13, 2013

Top Challenges, Implications, and Strategic Solutions for Energy and Utility Companies

The International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts roughly a $38T capital outlay over the next 15 years for the energy sector. Global energy and utility demand isTop Challenges, Implications, and Strategic Solutions for Energy and Utility Companiesexpected to increase by over one-third in the period to 2035, while the primary energy supply mix shifts considerably to natural gas and unconventional sources. The ability for global power and process owners, operators, contractors, and E&C companies to meet demand will largely depend on their ability to overcome five pain points: a constrained capital market, erratic supply and demand, aging infrastructure, a heightened regulatory environment, and declining global skills.

Iain Graham, director of Process Manufacturing Strategy, Oracle Primavera, hosts a Webcast available On-Demand that spotlights three strategic drivers—operational excellence, financial discipline, and risk mitigation—which are key in driving success and helping to identify, select, execute, operate, and maintain assets in an increasingly complex world. During the Webcast, Iain discusses how financial discipline can help manage capital expenses and focus capital on areas that drive greater shareholder value. Through examples that Iain provides, you can learn how operational excellence enhances efficiency, optimizes resource pools, and reduces waste and inefficiencies. He also covers how improved awareness of cash flow and capital expenditures can help any power and process company better manage and react to uncertainty.

Read the full edition of Engineering News Record’s 2nd edition of Construction Connection to discover more successes and stories in the current and emerging environment in the engineering and construction industry. 

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