Energy Handle changed its focus following the implementation of various organization changes in 2020. Its three business units the development department, EPC as well as power plants O&M have been functioning independently, drawing upon their strengths whenever they are needed. We inquired about how they set up their O&M company specifically. How can you make O&M an added value service instead of an issue center?
In the beginning of solar power’s boom across in Morocco. There were those who believed that the solar energy plants could be an “maintenance-free, set it and forget it” asset. A few times of cleaning the module and weeding there, a few tiny inverter checks there could suffice in the event that the plant’s performance was maximized and maintained functioning at the levels it was supposed to be, and operating costs were reduced in the race to the bottom.
This kind of laissez-faire attitude resulted in a decline in the equipment. The results of this negligence resulted in a unique business opportunity for businesses like ours to restore older machines and bring them up to the standards of industry. It’s not the sort of work we’d prefer to be doing. Thankfully, this approach is now largely out of fashion since the solar industry has grown and the majority of people have realized the benefits of a long-term, strategic approach to maintenance and operations (O&M) which doesn’t compromise plant health in order to gain short-term benefits.
In the end, O&M is about two things. One is more evident while the other is less obvious.
The main function in O&M is to make sure that the equipment operates to its maximum potential and that it is operating without risk, and all while staying within a sensible budget. A complete O&M program incorporates preventive, corrective , and predictive best practices to reduce downtime of the system, improve the efficiency of your equipment, and maximize its uptime and all without the need for truck rolls, or putting more safety at risk.
Another major function of O&M isn’t as well-known in order to keep the value of the asset to the highest value. To achieve this goal the most effective power plants O&M team performs the following:
- Keeps equipment operating in the state it was intended to function in.
- Respects warranties in accordance with the manual of the manufacturer.
- Determines and addresses the root cause of failures and other issues.
- Analyzes issues in production.
- Repairs and replaces parts when required.
- Records are kept up-to-date and up-to-date.
This method is suitable for the owner who intends (for the moment) to hold the asset and want to make sure they meet the power purchase agreement number and for the developer who is keen on selling the asset within the next few years after PTO.
When the current owner is looking to dispose of the facility and the plant has been maintained properly by a third-party auditing firm will assess the health of the system and verify that it’s in great state. In the event that the upkeep of the facility was ignored, the same auditor will create an exhaustive list of broken cables, connectors that are not matched as well as rusty combiner box, often overheating inverters that have reduced life spans, damaged modules and other indicators of O&M neglect that can reduce the value of the sale to the low-cost lower levels.
It’s the same as purchasing a car that was previously owned that the owner has maintained the car and kept a complete log of all servicing and repairs, he will receive a more favorable selling price than one who has performed a few things, such as changing the oil every once every few months, kept poor records, and usually put the car in the ground.
It’s fine to boast of having a robust O&M program however if you don’t have trained employees customers isn’t going to be happy. I’m amazed that some of our competitors continue to take trucks to work sites for each minor or alert issue and with the mindset to “if it’s switched off, then switch it back on,” instead of getting to the root of the problem and fixing the issue.
A well-organized power plants O&M team will only require one visit to the site ensuring that they get it right first time, and then bringing the asset back on the road in a timely fashion.
When we create what we call a “pending work order” document the work items which aren’t important enough to warrant the truck to roll in by themselves are put together to be used when the following roll-out is scheduled. For instance blinking notifications might be irritating however it’s not enough to make somebody drive to the site at a cost of hundreds of dollars per visit. It’s better to add it to the work that is in progress. When the next time team arrives, they could review the list of items that require fixing which have already been identified. They can then be combined into one visit.
We are also automating our calibration certificates as well as other processes to reduce the need for manual reports. Checklists pre-built that list all the assets that need to be touched, as well as what to do and whereto go. And any pertinent notes are integrated into an app for smartphones which allows our technicians to effortlessly generate reports for the customer. Customers can also access an online view of their system through the network operation center. Power plants O&M is now becoming more digital by incorporating predictive capabilities. Based on simulation and modeling as well as the ever-growing amount of data on field performance.
In all times, O&M remains a matter of making sure that the customer is content. I’ve observed that the majority of complaints from customers with their service provider originate at least one of these items:
- Did you spot the issue in the first place?
- Did you assign your team in a correct manner and reduce the amount of truck rolls?
- Did you address the issue the first time , or inform the customer that there is a larger issue to resolve?
- Did you file your report correctly?
While the top O&M providers check all of these boxes most of times, they have room to improve.
Contact Energy Handle for more information