Improving asset performance in the oil and gas industry

September 26, 2019

| 4 min read

12 thoughts about modern maintenance in the oil and gas industry

Technology is a game-changer for companies looking to wring more value from their operations. Maintenance has become a key battlefield in this fight for a competitive edge, especially as production facilities invest in maintenance software, like a CMMS, to increase efficiency.

Last week, we hosted a webinar exploring how organizations can unlock the potential of modern maintenance as part of the 2019 Digital Transformation in Oil and Gas Conference. Fiix’s Sandy D’Souza (Director of Strategic Alliances) and Stuart Fergusson (Solutions Engineering Lead) discussed how to use maintenance technology to improve asset performance. The webinar focuses on the oil and gas industry, but the tips can be easily applied by any maintenance team.

We put together 12 initial thoughts on the session and more ways to explore the topic of modern maintenance.

Improving asset performance in the oil and gas industry, and beyond

1. The higher-level benefits of modern maintenance

The webinar kicked off with a discussion on why companies are investing in maintenance software. D’Souza boiled it down to three main benefits: More throughput, increased output, and less downtime. It’s not always easy to connect maintenance to the success of a company on a higher level, especially when the discussion focuses on day-to-day tasks. Yes, maintenance software allows you to make this routine work much easier, but it all leads back to something that everyone in your organization cares about: Increased and more predictable production.

Technology is a game-changer for today’s production facilities looking to wring more value from their operations. Maintenance has become a key battlefield in this fight for a competitive edge.

2. The missing link has been found

Industry 4.0 is often associated with predictive maintenance, a challenging strategy to execute. That’s because predictive maintenance requires one main ingredient—data. Maintenance data has always existed, but it’s been near-impossible to collect, share and analyze properly. Now, the oil and gas industry is one giant leap closer to being able to destroy these obstacles, say D’Souza and Fergusson. Maintenance software is making it easier to connect maintenance, production, and business systems. It’s easier to collect and share data among these platforms, making predictive maintenance a much more attainable goal.

3. “Excellence is a habit, not an act.”

Modernizing your maintenance operation is not a one-and-done project. Viewing digital transformation as a destination instead of a journey may lead to short-term benefits, but you’ll likely find yourselves with the same out-of-date systems and processes at some point in the future. Going from paper-based, reactive maintenance to fully automated, predictive maintenance requires consistent, incremental gains and long-term dedication to improvement.

The short guide to preventive maintenance: Get your free guide now

4. The best and the rest

D’Souza and Fergusson explained that maintenance teams can be divided into those that rely on run-to-failure maintenance and those that practice best-in-class preventive maintenance. There are two takeaways from this if you’re the former. First, you’re not alone. According to D’Souza and Fergusson, 50% of organizations fall into this category. Second, the gap between the best and the rest is rapidly shrinking thanks to maintenance software that can do increasingly more complex tasks, like provide real-time asset data from sensors.

5. A maintenance dream team

D’Souza and Fergusson highlighted three main factors of a successful modern maintenance program in the oil and gas industry: Data, software, and connectivity. Organizations relying on reactive maintenance have limited data, paper-based processes, and no connection between maintenance and the rest of the organization. Predictive maintenance, on the other hand, flourishes when organizations identify key data, have software to collect it, and connect systems to share and analyze the data. When going from reactive, to preventive, and finally predictive maintenance, look to those three elements.

Maintenance strategy ladder by complexity, software and data requirements

6. Being picky is the key to modern maintenance success

Picky is perfect when choosing a CMMS, say D’Souza and Fergusson. This is especially true when it comes to user acceptance and data tracking. Don’t settle for an overcomplicated tool that technicians can’t learn easily. Make sure the software is simple so it’s used consistently and properly. It’s also crucial to get a CMMS that can integrate with your organization’s other business systems so you can collect a lot of data while ensuring it’s accurate.

7. The good kind of failure

Your goal shouldn’t be to eliminate run-to-failure maintenance, but to match the right maintenance strategy to each asset, says D’Souza. This is another reason to collect high-quality data, as it helps you decide what maintenance strategy fits each piece of equipment, and then execute that strategy. The moral of the story: don’t shun downtime, just use data to be as smart as possible about the kind of downtime you’ll accept at your facility.

8. Connecting the dots on integration

If you’re still a bit hazy on CMMS integrations and what they mean for your maintenance team, here’s how D’Souza and Fergusson summed it up:

A CMMS needs to connect to two things: Production systems and enterprise systems. Production systems are your machines and data collectors, like PLCs or SCADA. Enterprise systems are the other software your business uses, like an ERP. Integrations are the bridges connecting your CMMS to these systems. They give you a 360-degree view of equipment usage and health while syncing maintenance with the rest of the business.

CMMS Integrations Roadmap: Production systems, CMMS software, and Enterprise systems

9. Slow and steady wins the race

Jumping from reactive maintenance to predictive maintenance is like jumping across the Grand Canyon—it’s just not possible. Instead, make the most of what you already have, says the Fiix team. The first step is to analyze where you are today and what data you have right now. Use this as a foundation to start tracking metrics and digitize processes as much as possible. Once you have created a more structured maintenance program with what already exists, begin to create mid-term and long-term plans for modernizing your maintenance operation.

The ladder to CMMS success

10. Start with the fundamentals

D’Souza also suggested anchoring the evolution of your maintenance strategy on a pair of fundamental maintenance metrics: Planned maintenance percentage and PM compliance. Once you can understand how many tasks are planned and how well you’re adhering to the schedule, you can begin to improve and create a more complex preventive maintenance program.

11. There’s strength in numbers

Fergusson and D’Souza were asked the ideal number of people that should have access to a CMMS. The answer is, it depends on your ultimate maintenance goal. Everyone connected to that goal or responsible for achieving it should have access to the system. “There’s no magic ratio,” says Fergusson, “It’s about analyzing your goal and who is tied to that goal.”

Let’s say you want to reduce downtime. In that scenario, everyone with a direct impact on downtime should be a CMMS user, from technicians to maintenance managers, production supervisors, and inventory personnel.

12. A checklist for digital transformation

D’Souza and Fergusson ended the webinar with a checklist that maintenance teams should keep in mind when pursuing digital transformation:

  1. Start right: Review business needs, consult stakeholders, and choose a trusted partner
  2. Use data: Identify key sources, determine KPIs, and collect, clean, and action data
  3. Manage change: Give users a voice, keep them informed, and provide frequent training
  4. Implement carefully: Create a plan, define roles, input data, and focus on adoption
  5. Expand: Connect to systems, build reports, analyze work, and improve processes

Get a nine-step plan for modernizing maintenance

See it in The Business Leader's Guide to Digital Transformation in Maintenance

Download the guide

Business leader's guide to digital transformation

Want to see Fiix in action?

No problem. You can try it today.

Free tour

fiix dashboard screenshot