Skip to content
Home » Fine-tuning O&M and empowers plants to work productively and cost-effectively: Part 2

Fine-tuning O&M and empowers plants to work productively and cost-effectively: Part 2

There are optimistic signs that the imperative need for operations and maintenance (O&M) is at last firmly under the spotlight, around the country, with regards to the ongoing national power crisis. This is Part 2 of a two-part article.

… continued from part one.

Mongezi Kilimeni, an operations training officer at AES. Photo by AES. 
Mongezi Kilimeni, an operations training officer at AES. Photo by AES.

The role of maintenance

AES takes pride in operating on very specific assets with correspondingly specific requirements.

Williams notes: “It is crucial to understand the required maintenance parameters, including when and where in the plant maintenance will be carried out, and for what purpose. Plant boilers are subject to statutory maintenance requirements on an annual and  three-yearly basis. AES provides comprehensive routine maintenance across the plant, including preventative, to keep assets operational, and employees safe.”

“We have created our own asset management tracking system (AMS), to manage data that allows for the population of a database for maintenance scheduling, planning and optimisation.”

The AMS is continuously improved through the company’s expertise and is optimised on an ongoing basis – depending on what is being seen in the field.

Assistance with fuel procurement

AES is highly flexible – being totally solutions-, fuel and technology-agnostic, and is therefore able to assist clients in diversifying their fuel mix by having access to all the different available fuel stream options, across the spectrum.

Paterson explains: “It is our opinion that coal is likely to be a mainstay in South Africa as regards electricity generation for the next 10 years at least. The same applies to process energy, which also has a substantial fuel requirement.

Nonetheless, AES is able to mitigate fuel risk through a wide and established fuel procurement offering, which includes coal, liquid fuels, biomass and biogas, allowing our clients to optimise efficiencies and future-proof their plants. We are extremely selective around the quality of coal that we provide, which further assists in plant efficiency improvements.”

The importance of skills

AES invests heavily in training and the promotion of talented people on an equal opportunity basis into the industrial operations environment. In-house training is offered at an extremely high level for AES operations personnel who work on client sites – where skills provision forms an integral part of the energy supply offering.

Williams clarifies: “Employee training is extremely important to us, and we provide skills in the operation of best practices with regards to energy systems and combustion. Our aim is to inculcate employees into operating energy plant according to the AES way of doing things. Having ensured that the correct AES people are in place on site – or else having given training and empowerment to the client’s personnel transferred to AES- we are in an even stronger position to improve processes at the plant.”

AES has created its own successful training system, which includes the necessary manuals as well as training offices in each of its regions. All personnel hold the required operations certificates that are valid for 3 years, but this is further supported by undergoing additional annual refresher course training.

The sum of its parts: carbon footprint reduction

When all of the above systems and processes are in place, AES is able to reduce the quantity of fuel that is used relative to the initial baseline. There may also be a process whereby the type of fuel is changed to a more cost-effective fuel source, given AES’s fuel-agnostic ethos.

Being selective around the quality of fuel that AES provides further assists in plant efficiency improvements, thereby using less fuel and additionally improving the plant’s carbon footprint. These changes in turn lead to a bottom-line improvement in running costs and profitability, with an additional knock-on effect on sustainability overall because of the improvement of efficiencies.

“The integration of energy systems remains an ongoing trend,” says Paterson. “AES is often required to take over plants built some time ago, using legacy technology. An understanding of how to improve the solution is key, and in addition to retrofitting, client education is an important aspect also.

“We distinguish ourselves from our competitors through our experience, capacity, and skills. AES has the largest operational footprint within the industry, being present in four provinces, and with over sixty boilers in our portfolio with an installed capacity at over 560 MWth. We have a strong track record with excellent clients. As we have also been in business for more than 25 years, we have weathered economic cycles and supported our clients throughout many challenges.

Looking into the future, we will remain at the forefront of operations and maintenance, to keep on improving a plant’s energy efficiency and life cycle costs,” he concludes.