Recently I visited a power plant operator in Germany. He was quite impressed about the opportunities that Asset Performance Management (APM) offers. Surprisingly, he saw the biggest advantage of APM by retaining knowledge and handing it over to young engineers and technicians.
Old economies will lose 35 % of experienced staff over the next ten years
The demographic change has a clear message: We will lose a significant amount of experience over the next decade in Germany. The final report of the Commission on Growth, Structural Change and Employment of the German FEDERAL MINISTRY FOR ECONOMIC AFFAIRS AND ENERGY implies that about a third of the experts (this is the answer to the figure 35 %) of (coal-fired) power plants will retire within the next ten years in Germany. Simultaneously cost pressure will not allow to fully substitute the loss in knowledgeable staff.
New economies lack of experienced workforce
Asian countries have the same effect from different root causes. The education and training of young talents to maintain and operate complex plants in the energy sector can simply not keep up with the installation of new generation capacities as the emergent markets require. Lack of skilled resources is a serious barrier for further growth as consulting firms like PricewaterhouseCoopers state and for a transition to clean energy as CLEAN ENERGY MINISTERIAL, a forum of 28 states to promote policies and programs that advance clean energy technology, describes.
But how does Asset Performance Management help?
The core of APM is its systematic analysis of assets, starting with the definition of the criticality of its failure to operations, environment or safety. Defining the failure modes and how to identify them provides deep insights into the functionality of the systems and its components. APM provides a structured way through all the aspects of operating and maintaining an asset. And through jointly walking this way, young IT oriented talents capture the experiences of seasoned and senior technicians and engineers and cast them into models and algorithms. The result is a living expert system that transforms daily operator rounds to automatically initiate condition-based maintenance activities. One could think of the expert system as being a Reliability Engineer out of the box to help young technicians and engineers with the advice of the elder one’s captured in APM. The usage of handhelds to capture readings combine the private usage of smart phones with job routines – it simply adapts operator rounds to modern lifestyle.
So – this is a real win-win: seniors see getting their heritage going life, newcomers learn in a structured way the specifics of the site, utilities will experience a boost in process improvement which will allow keeping reliability up and mastering the staff turn-over.
That is what I learned during my short visit in the power plant. I would like to have more of these.