Thursday, February 6, 2014

Operations Innovation & Transformation – Flexible Teams, Part 5 of 5

by Stan Devries, Senior Director Solutions Architecture, Invensys|Schneider Electric

The 4 quadrants described in the article “Operations Innovation & Transformation – the 4 Types Part 1 of 5” positions the lower right quadrant as a strategy for using a team of human assets in a new way.

In this quadrant, teams of specialists (with the same or different areas of specialization) are grouped to provide value improvement to a group of physical assets, and the group of physical assets can be used as a “fleet” or as a “chain.”  This is much more than a passive “help desk.”  One example is where specialists use real-time benchmarking and other tools, working with new business processes with the physical assets and the dedicated workers, to unlock value of themselves and the physical assets. 

In the following diagrams, a team is located in different sites at the moment.  This example has 4 physical assets, A through D, and specialist 1 is mobile (working from a hotel, home or in an office within the enterprise), and specialist 3 is in an operations center. 

In the left-hand diagram, specialist 1 is supporting or improving the performance of physical assets A and B, and specialist 3 handles the physical assets C and D.  In the right-hand diagram, a change in performance in asset B triggers a workflow and specialist 2, who is on call or is assigned by the team supervisor, handles asset B.  Specialist 1 does not receive workflows for asset B unless the team supervisor changes the assignments.  Overlapping assignments are also used, especially when multiple disciplines or specializations are involved.  Both use the same integrated and federated information, and these specialists become champions to help all like operations and equipment improve performance.

In the following diagram, a workflow “brings the work to the worker,” using the same integrated and federated information, on-line performance applications, and human workflow.  The supervisor(s) can easily change assignments, and the workflow can include escalation, which can be guided by the performance applications’ output compared to thresholds (simple calculations of time to reach a threshold).

The strength of these workflows is to help specialists intervene early enough, and using standardized and trustworthy data, focus on trends.  This processing of information is automated as much as possible.
The the specialists can then spend most of their time working on improvements instead of processing data and analyzing previous performance problems and their decisions.  As a result, major overhauls are safely and reliably delayed, equipment performance is improved, and operators trust the equipment more to help increase performance at each physical asset.

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