The Top 3 Strategies for Improving Operating Efficiency in a Power Plant with Mobile Workers

June 26, 2018

When it comes to improving operating efficiency in a power plant, Operations Managers often rely heavily on data gathered by the plant’s Distributed Control System (DCS). This makes sense. After all, this data is usually the easiest to access and analyze. But, if you only focus on data your plant’s DCS system collects, then you run the risk of missing the equally important critical human observation data that impact your plant’s efficiency.

Data collected from Operational tasks, like daily Operator Rounds, can become another cornerstone of your power plant’s short-term and long-term success. These procedures help your equipment run smoothly and efficiently day in and day out. Without an organized team of Mobile Field Operators, your plant may never run at peak efficiency. That’s why it’s crucial to consider these strategies for improving operating efficiency for the mobile workers at your power plant.

Top Strategies for Improving Operating Efficiency in Your Power Plant

To ensure that your mobile workers have all of the tools they need to keep your plant running smoothly, there are three key strategies you should consider implementing. They include:

  1. Identifying factors that your Mobile Operators can best monitor using their human senses
  2. Improving your Rounds and checklist procedures to include these factors
  3. Training your Operators to recognize field conditions that can affect operating efficiency negatively

By implementing these strategies in your plant, you’ll make the most of your mobile workers’ time—and significantly improve operating efficiency in the process.

Strategy #1: Design an Efficient Daily Rounds and Operations System

One of the greatest challenges that power plant Operations Managers face is that it’s difficult to organize a large number of Mobile Operators each day. With multiple mobile workers each with varying skill levels and experience, making sure that they’re all following protocol and collecting the right data isn’t always easy. This is why you need to design an effective Operator Rounds and checklist system for your mobile workers. By switching from manual paper rounds sheets and checklists to a digital system for equipment maintenance logs, you can significantly improve operating efficiency at your power plant with very little effort.

A digital system improves operating efficiency by:

  • Considering the human element: A digital system is easier for Mobile Operators to use out in the field because they can take notes from a single rugged mobile device rather than carrying around extra sheets of paper or pens.
  • Staying up to date with your power plant: You can quickly make changes to your digital rounds system without printing new documents or worrying about whether your Operators are using outdated paperwork.
  • Reducing downtime A digital Operator Rounds and checklist system is easier to use and track each day, making Operators more likely to discover the minor maintenance issues before they become much larger (and more expensive) repair problems.
  • Standardizing data collection: An outdated manual paper rounds sheet and checklist system may be ambiguous or leave room for Operator error. It’s possible that one Mobile Operator reports very detailed data on equipment condition, but another tends to report less detailed data on the same condition because his rounds sheet doesn’t specifically ask for it. These minor differences in observation and reporting styles can lead to downtime and operational blind spots at your power plant. A digital system helps you standardize and find weak points in your data collection process. As you build your new digital rounds system, you can identify vague checklist items and refine them so that they’re all perfectly clear to your mobile workers.

These are just a few of the major benefits that you’ll see when you make the switch to a digital rounds system in your power plant. When you implement an organized, streamlined data gathering system in the field, your power plant will become far more efficient.

Strategy #2: Identify Critical Human Observation factors to Improve Operating Efficiency

Another strategy for improving operating efficiency in your power plant is to ensure that all of the critical human observation factors and data collection points make it onto your daily rounds sheets and checklists.

Critical human observation factors in a facility include:

  • Equipment variables with local gauges or instrumentation that are not tied into the Plant DCS
  • Equipment conditions that can’t be instrumented, such as spotting leaks, hearing unusual noises or identifying other issues that can be best perceived using the human senses of sight, hearing, and smell.

There are many more critical aspects that you’ll need to identify; your specific factors will vary depending on your specific plant equipment.

Regardless of how many critical human observation points your plant has, you can improve operating efficiency in your power plant by encouraging your Operators to monitor these variables carefully. Your Mobile Operators should understand exactly which aspects of the plant they have to visit in person, and they should know how to identify and take corrective action for potential problems right away in order to increase asset reliability and prevent downtime. A digital rounds and checklist system helps by listing these critical human observation points in clear terms for your mobile workers while providing immediate feedback to the Operator to take action if normal operating ranges are out of compliance.

Another benefit of a digital Operator Rounds and checklist system is that you can create multiple rounds sheets or checklists that your workers can refer to at different points during their shifts. When it comes time to walk the plant, your Mobile Operator can look at a full digital list of normal operating parameters to ensure that the equipment is running within normal operating limits without having to search through a paper manual or rely on their experience to recognize those limits.

Strategy #3: Thoroughly Train Your Operators in Efficiency

A new, streamlined digital rounds system will greatly improve operating efficiency in your power plant. However, if you want this new system to be as effective as possible, then you still have to ensure that your mobile workers understand exactly how the new system works.

What’s the best training strategy for your Operators? Begin with those critical human observation  factors that you identified earlier. When you train your Operators, be sure that they understand how their senses are a critical element in the successful running of the Plant.

Thorough Operator training should include:

  1. What observations are best made using human senses
  2. How these factors directly or indirectly impact the Plant
  3. How best to enter their observations in the new digital system
  4. What to do when they identify a potential problem in the field

These four key training points will not only make your power plant safer and easier for your mobile workers to navigate, it will also improve operating efficiency in your plant in the future.

Improving Operating Efficiency Isn’t Difficult—With the Right Support

In the past, many digital rounds systems required special programming skills  and experience to create a system for a power plant’s unique needs. Now, digital systems, like GoPlant™, can be implemented into your daily operations with minimal effort and absolutely no programming skills required.

Using a digital data collection system, such as GoPlant™, you can easily employ all three strategies for improving operating efficiency at your power plat. By switching to a digital rounds system,  integrate critical human observation points into your plant monitoring plan, create a more efficient way to collect that data in order to analyze it, and train your mobile workers to appropriately handle any situation they come across in the field.

Request a no obligation demo of the GoPlant digital Operator Rounds system today. One of our experts will contact you directly to answer any questions you may have about our system’s features. You’ll receive detailed information about how to create your own digital data collection system, as well as how the GoPlant software system can help you improve your plant’s efficiency. Connect with our team to get started.