How does the US Nuclear power industry typically define Work Control?
The industry generally thinks of Work Control as the integration and management of activities supporting maintenance and modifications during steady state operations. Work Control is usually separated from outages, where you typically have separate Outage Control Centers and Outage Management programs.
Planning and Scheduling are two key components of Work Control. Scheduling can be defined as the organization of the timing of activities relative to each other, and to plant operations, plant systems, etc. Planning specifies the actual step-by-step work that is required for each activity and evolution in the work, along with the integration of the resources required to complete the work. However, Work Control is more than just Planning and Scheduling.
Work Control integrates all the resources necessary to complete the online maintenance and modifications work. In our experience, this work touches almost half of the job functions typically found at a nuclear power plant including: Schedulers, Planners, Radiation Protection, Supply Chain, System Engineering, Operations, etc. Additionally, this often generates new work for site support functions such as Document Control and Budget/Finance.
What do you mean when you refer to Work Control as “World Control”?
Our team often discusses the various leadership cultures we encounter at different power plants. We think of culture is as the major driving force in the way things get done. For example, the culture at one plant might emphasize Operations, whereas another plant may place a greater emphasis on Maintenance or Engineering. We sometimes visit plants where the Work Control group dominates the culture of the organization. Our nickname for this phenomenon is “World Control.”
What is the problem with a plant that has a culture of “World Control”?
We find that the top performing plants and fleets have an Operations-focused culture. “World Control” plants typically have more of a Projects-focused outlook than an Operations-focused outlook. At healthier plants, Work Control is seen as an asset that the management team leads and leverages, rather than the “end all”.
Are some types of plants in greater danger of a devolving into a “World Control” culture?
Yes, typically 1-unit stand-alone plants, because there is only one schedule in these situations. That single schedule determines whether the plant is online or offline, and therefore, what work is being performed online or offline. At fleets and multi-unit sites you have multiple schedules, thus decreasing the likelihood of Work Control having a disproportionate influence on the culture.
Where should Maintenance Planning be placed within the Organizational structure?
The two most common approaches are to put Planning directly within the Maintenance Organization, or to put it in the Work Control Organization. Either approach can work, but there are trade-offs associated with each of them.
Approach 1: Maintenance Planning within the Maintenance Organization.
This usually has a Superintendent of Maintenance Planning reporting directly to the Maintenance Director. This approach is often effective because the Planners usually have backgrounds in craft positions. In this scenario, there is usually an existing relationship in place between the people who develop the plans and the craft who will execute those plans. Planners in this scenario can leverage their experience from craft positions to optimize plans. The challenge to this approach is that you are disconnected from the Schedulers within Work Control. This can impact the quality of the integration that would occur with a centralized approach.
Approach 2: Maintenance Planning within Work Control
This has both Maintenance Planners and Schedulers working together in a centralized Work Control organization. Execution of a given maintenance activity within a work week window often runs better thanks to the integration of Planners and Schedulers. However, the Maintenance Planners in this scenario often lose touch with the Maintenance Craft people who they serve. Over time this disconnection can decrease the value of prior Maintenance craft typically that the Planners often bring to their position.