11 April 2019

Asset Management: why operational responsibility is crucial to world-class performance

What’s more rewarding than a customer saying they value the service you provide? ‘Value’ is stronger currency than ‘pleased’, or ‘satisfied’, or even ‘happy’. And it has yet more significance when it relates to a critical customer asset. Here’s an example: nearly two decades ago, Siemens had the honour of building the Moyle Interconnector for customer, Mutual Energy. The interconnector plays a crucial role in the security of energy supply by linking – by submarine cable – the electricity grids of Northern Ireland and Scotland via converter stations in County Antrim and Ayrshire. At the time of construction, it was one of the world’s first HVDC interconnectors built by Siemens and it’s a project we remain very proud of. Siemens has provided ongoing operation and maintenance of the converter stations since it went into operation in 2002 and the team’s sense of operational responsibility has grown year-on-year. Moyle now has an astounding converter station availability of over 99.8 per cent, which is more than any other in the world. “These sites are spotless. It shows the absolute pride Siemens has in them.” Stephen Hemphill, Operations Director, Mutual Energy. “Moyle belongs to all of us.” Anne Thornton, Siemens

So, how did we get Moyle to world-class performance?

No hidden agendas

In a recent conversation with Mutual Energy we had the pleasure of discovering what it was they valued about working with Siemens. Coming through clearly was our understanding of what’s important to them and the respect we show for their priorities. An example of this is their absolute and ongoing commitment to safety, and the support Siemens provides to help achieve Zero Harm. The willingness to share expertise in an area as important as safety means the goals become shared. It means people are working together as one team. It means there’s no point scoring. I believe it’s this type of commitment that creates a respectful culture. When there are no hidden agendas excellence is achievable.

A relationship founded on trust and respect

Moyle has set the bar high when it comes to a strong relationship. Over the years of working together the level of collaboration has increased, trust and respect have developed, and an efficient joint-operational team has been created. When a group of people operate in a positive environment based on openness and honesty, we see a willingness to go over and above what’s required to meet expectations. Shared goals become the basis to improved performance and, as we witness exceptional results, the desire to maintain or exceed them also increases. Such is the importance of Moyle to Northern Ireland’s energy mix, there are heavy penalties involved if its availability is reduced. Ensuring availability involves speed, and while our contractual agreement specifies a two-hour response time, Siemens’ technicians rarely exceed an hour. Why the effort? Respect for our customer and our shared goals! “What we always see is leadership from the front”. Stephen Hemphill, Mutual Energy

Digitalisation delivers made-to-measure service

The word digitalisation has been on the lips of the people in the energy industry for several years now. But what does it mean in terms of asset management? For an asset like Moyle it means addressing the challenge of ageing. Our focus is keeping its 20-year-old transformers and switchgear running as seamlessly as possible for as long as possible for our customer. By using digital technologies and remote diagnostics we can harness data, improve asset knowledge and understand how the assets can be optimised. Availability and reliability are of paramount importance for Mutual Energy, so it’s our job to leverage digitalisation, collect the data and ensure a level of service that’s bespoke to our customer. Planned maintenance and inspections extend the life of the overall asset and increase its stability.

Knowledge = value

Siemens has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to HVDC asset management. Our highly-skilled engineers deployed to Moyle make it their job to keep detailed records of faults and the actions taken to resolve them to share with the team. By taking a proactive course of action they have added value to our service by making sure that if the same fault occurs again in the future, they can reduce the time taken to rectify it. Our technicians frequently exercise their knowledge to create new methods of improvement to the service we provide. They understand how the systems work and interact with each other, and regularly look for ways to add value to what we offer by increasing efficiency and maintaining reliability. “We want to continue to provide great value for money.” Colin McKay, Siemens Maintenance Team Leader.

A small team with the world at its fingertips

It may be a small team that operates and maintains Moyle, but they’re supported by a global network of Siemens experts to call on if required. Siemens has worked on HVDC projects around the world, which means we have access to more data to support our UK customers and a wealth of insights and experience gained from constructing many multi-million-pound energy assets. Moyle experienced this first-hand two years ago when its converter station in County Antrim suffered an unusual oscillation problem that had the potential to adversely affect power delivery. Siemens’ team in the UK was able to contact the original Moyle engineers in Erlangen, Germany and use their willing support and expertise to establish the root cause and solution for the problem. Value.

What we believe

Moyle is an excellent example of how a true level of operational responsibility can create world-class customer service. It shows how above-and-beyond commitment, combined with technical proficiency and knowledge derived from a global asset base can keep an ageing asset, not only operating, but operating at a level that’s first-class. The effort and respect that has been put into developing this joint-team of experts has happened over a 20-year period and it continues to inform our approach to customer service today. We have demonstrated that exceptional asset management increases efficiency, availability, reliability and delivers operational cost-savings. Here’s what we believe: we believe that the customer’s requirements should always come first; we believe that by understanding their priorities and creating shared goals with them from the outset, we add value to every pillar of asset management; we believe that by leveraging our local and global network of expertise we provide a powerful platform of service for our customers. Here’s the proof it works: “Looking ahead my simple message is: more of the same, please.” Stephen Hemphill, Mutual Energy.

Find out more at www.siemens.co.uk/assetmanagement

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