How Continuous Improvement Should Aid Evergreening Strategies

By Pinnacle. Pinnacle, February 27, 2023

Maintaining the longevity and success of a reliability program requires evergreening, a continuous effort to keep processes up-to-date and relevant. Without evergreening, a reliability program can become stagnant, leaving all the demanding work from the initial implementation to waste. As facilities hone in on sustaining efficient programs, continuous improvement will play an increasingly important role in evergreening strategies.

How are Evergreening and Continuous Improvement Different?

Implementing a reliability program is not a simple feat, and it is not something you complete and walk away from without performing maintenance. Evergreening aims to ensure that the program stays aligned with the facility's goals, such as asset availability, compliance, safety, and reducing unplanned downtime. As new technology becomes available, facilities should aim to evolve with them. Evergreening should be viewed as your run-and-maintain activities. Continuous improvement focuses on special emphasis projects that enhance the overall program, such as creating efficiencies in gathering data or refining the way that data is collected. As these special emphasis projects are implemented, there should then be a process to incorporate the updating of that data into the overall evergreening program.

How to Set Your Facility up for Success

When a reliability program is first implemented, a facility usually has several objectives – ensuring asset availability, compliance, safety, and minimizing unplanned downtime. Without the evergreening process, all the initial implementation efforts can come to a standstill. A program's effectiveness depends solely on the quality of the data that supports it. While the specifics of the following components varies depending on the facility, the project management essentials below remain critical to ensuring the success of the program from inception:

  • Management of Change (MOC) – The MOC process involves a documented and repeatable set of steps for submitting, recording, evaluating, reviewing, and executing change requests from different departments at a facility. It is common for most facilities to have their own version of this process, but reliability programs still need to be fully integrated. Even though not all MOCs necessitate reliability steps, it has been observed that more than 50% of them require some form of reliability assessment or modification.
  • Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) – SOPs are written prior to the original implementation and should organize program elements to help workers carry out routine operations. This document should convey the task's importance to the program and aid in identifying how an MOC or other evergreening tasks are connected to the facility’s health. Common components found in SOPs are:
    • Foundational Elements - What is the task? Why is it valuable, and what other reliability theories surround the task? For example, providing an appendix of definitions or articulating the value of a task, such as circuitization, has major impacts on other RBI elements, such as corrosion modeling and inspection planning.
    • Workflows – What are the high-level steps to executing this task?
    • Communication Plans – Who needs to be informed and when? For example, what happens if a Reliability/Integrity Operating Window is breached? Who gets notified, and what do they do?
    • RACI Chart – RACI stands for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed and outlines where stakeholder responsibilities fall within the task.
    • Proceeding and Following Tasks – What tasks need to be completed before the current one can start? What tasks follow this task?
  • Working Procedures – Working procedures can sometimes be combined with the SOPs, but the general purpose is to provide step-by-step instructions on how to tangibly complete a specific task (e.g., what buttons to push).
  • Training - Evergreening has many risks, and one of the biggest is the human element. To reduce the risk associated with turnover, reorganization, and memory, it is essential to have well-documented training that covers all steps of the evergreening process. SOPs and working procedures are helpful in this process but should be one of many aids used to train new team members.
  • Software - Whether implementing a Risk-Based Inspection (RBI), Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM), or another reliability program, having computer software or other databases to store and organize data is pivotal. Just as the selection process of your Information Data Management System (IDMS) and Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) is important, so is the upkeep and maintenance of these systems since your program is only as strong as the data supporting it.
  • Quality Management Plan (QMP) - A QMP documents the necessary information to manage project quality effectively. A QMP should include the project quality standards, Quality Control (QC) procedures, criteria and areas of application, personnel qualifications, authorities, and roles. This document outlines how to set up gate checks for new personnel or tasks and who is qualified to perform QC for others.

Who is Responsible for Evergreening?

The short answer is everyone, and understanding the effects of new data on a reliability program is crucial. The individuals who carry out evergreening tasks are essential to the overall process. They ensure that the entire scope of change is addressed systematically and comprehensively, thus guaranteeing the reliability program's overall health.

The personnel conducting evergreening activities should thoroughly understand all aspects of the reliability program. These team members should be capable of conducting basic RBI analysis, interpreting Process and Instrument Diagrams (P&IDs), manufacturer drawings, and code documents, and identifying risk drivers and their impact on risk calculation.

The Future of Evergreening

Traditionally, projects have relied heavily on the human factor of evergreening, which can be error-prone and time-consuming. As new technology is developed, knowing what data to collect, how often, and specifically when it should be collected is critical to sustaining a successful, data-driven reliability program. Evergreening should focus on maintaining the connections to the original initiative the facility set out to achieve, and continuous improvement efforts through data-driven reliability will help facilities sustain those efforts more efficiently and build new connections within the facility. Continuous improvement efforts include adding Integrity Operating Windows (IOWs), data analytics, and dashboards to a program to gain new or additional insights, or deploying a connected worker platform to make data collection in the field more efficient. Regardless of the specific improvement your facility is looking to recognize, at the end of the day, these new methods and efficiencies must be incorporated into your overall evergreening process for your reliability program to maintain its long-term value.

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