Downtime is costly for any business, but for utilities, it can be devastating. That’s why fewer business functions are more important to utilities than maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) in order to reduce outages and downtime.
“MRO is necessary to keep our aging infrastructure running,” explains Rob Adcock, an Anixter MRO senior product specialist. “Performing routine maintenance, having a plan in place for repairs and staying on top of things like inventory management is important to maintaining ‘business as usual.’”
Traditional MRO functions like tree trimming and visual inspections for insect infestations on power lines can go a long way. However, Adcock points out, adherence only to the status quo can lead to missed opportunities when it comes to improving financial performance through MRO. Utilities are at a tipping point with the advent of smart grid technology and other innovations, and they need to stay on top of the latest regulations. Those willing to change their thinking about MRO in relation to these changes will certainly reap the rewards.
Here are 3 examples of recent innovations that are making a true difference in MRO:
1. Smarter smart meter installation – The smart grid is still in its infancy so the products and procedures surrounding it are still marred with inefficiencies. Products like smart meter lube are quickly saving the day, says Adcock. While it may seem like an insignificant step, using the lube during smart meter installation has been found to save time and money when it comes to removal down the road.
2. Thermal imaging – Predictive maintenance has come a long way thanks to thermal imaging technology. According to Adcock, utilities can use the technology on power lines and at substations to detect faults and weaknesses—and fix them—long before they might be detected through traditional visual inspections.
3. PPE changes – Meeting changing OSHA requirements for personal protective equipment (PPE) is often seen as a major headache. But those who are proactive by going beyond mere compliance may be able to realize MRO benefits. Adcock states that innovations in PPE such as flame retardant full-body harnesses can prevent the ultimate setback: serious injuries. Are you treating MRO as a necessary evil or as an opportunity to improve safety and reliability? It’s important to challenge your use of MRO. If it’s not increasing efficiencies, preventing problems or reducing downtimes, it’s not doing its job.
One of the most measurable ways to improve your financial bottom line with MRO is with inventory management, which can help:
• ENSURE you have the products you need immediately
• PROVIDE inventory optimization
• SIMPLIFY the inventory management process while keeping control
• CONTROL, TRACK AND TRACE all items
• REDUCE cost of labor and transactions (fewer hours hunting for daily consumables)
• TAILOR and customize inventory to job specifications
• ELIMINATE stock-outs
• ENHANCE workforce in procurement, warehouse and sourcing