Is Your Organization Staffed To Be Able To See, Hear, And Fix Your Current Problems?
A surprising number of senior leaders answer this question with a definitive “no” or “I’m not sure.” These include executives from around the world in senior fleet and site management, HR, Finance and Operations. There are many different types of jobs performed at power plants. Most jobs are important and can be tied directly back to the company’s mission and vision, either directly or indirectly. However, there are certain functions that are mission critical. One way to think of mission critical staff is that without them, you would have to shut down the plant.
An analogy we use at Goodnight Consulting is that people in three key job functions makeup the eyes, hands and ears of the plant. At a nuclear power plant, we see Operations, Maintenance and Engineering as fitting the definition of mission critical. These are the core personnel needed to operate, maintain and sustain a power plant. If you started with a clean white board, who would you start with? And, would you have enough trained, qualified, and experienced people with ample pipelines.
Operators: The Watchful Eyes of the Plant
Whether monitoring instruments in the control room, conducting surveillances, or performing walk downs, Operators are a power plant’s first line of defense. They keep an eye out for initial signs of trouble. It is critical to have enough qualified and capable sets of eyes within your Operations crews. In fact, based on an analysis conducted by Goodnight Consulting in 2016, there is a strong correlation between operator staffing and overall plant performance. In this analysis we found that the top performing plants were consistently staffed above the industry average level in on-shift operators.
Maintenance Craft: The Hands That Fix Your Plant
Maintenance craft are the individuals who repair and replace equipment, and install plant modifications. They disassemble, repair, and reassemble systems and components. The industry has developed systems and tech specs to allow us to perform quite a bit of work online, requiring enough suitable qualified and experienced discipline maintenance craft.
Engineers: Listening for Trouble
Experienced systems and maintenance engineers can often hear when something is wrong with the plant. They “listen” for things that cannot be seen. For example, an experienced systems engineer can often hear a difference in the “hum” of electrical equipment when there is a problem, or the frequency of the sound of rotating equipment like turbines or pumps. Having the right number of qualified engineers is critical, and it is also important that those engineers get away from their desks and spend time walking though the plant. Their ears can help identify problems that Operators may be unable to see.
Training: Making It All Possible
Operators, maintenance craft, and engineers all require specialized training. The training organization must be fully staffed, adequately prepared, and applying a systematic approach to training so they can facilitate operations, maintenance, and engineering getting the job done.