The National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited (NGC) embarked on an SAP Phase 1 project for its pipeline network and stations during the period 2019-2020. The project provided a governance framework for asset data within the Company’s’ CMMS by utilising in-house resources, in-house experience, and capabilities, that resulted in an average of 50% cost savings for the Company. The project aligns with NGC’s asset management objectives in categories of data management, information trending and risk management in creating a sustainable data management system within the CMMS. Stakeholder Engagement, Competency mapping, Project Management and Performance Evaluation were driven by the commitment of NGC’s Leadership.
DESCRIPTION OF PROJECT OR FRAMEWORK ADDRESSING THE ASSESSMENT CRITERIA
The National Gas Company, NGC is governmental owned entity, comprising of an integrated gas gathering, distribution and pipeline network that traverses the islands of Trinidad and Tobago, supplying both upstream industries, downstream clients, and Trinidad’s utilities with 4.4 billion standard cubic feet of gas per day (bcf/d). The network provides feedstock and energy for power generation, petrochemical plants and a wide range of light manufacturing and commercial enterprises. Natural gas at the core to Trinidad and Tobago’s economy, and the reliability of the pipeline network is of paramount importance to the local energy sector, as this is a major contributor to Trinidad’s revenue stream. NGC’s infrastructure is primarily composed of static equipment assets, of which most facilities and infrastructure are aged and requires a robust asset management system for continuous sustained operations.
NGC has positioned itself to provide a greater focus on improving the current asset management system to ensure that the Company’s objectives are achieved through reliable performance, minimising risk to operations, and balancing cost. To achieve this balance and fulfil the obligations, NGC has developed its AIM policy and Framework- See NGC’s AIM Framework, Figure 1, that identifies the areas of focus for the business, the business environment and the needs and expectations of these stakeholder groups.
Fig 1-NGC’s AIM Framework
NGC’s AIM system has been previously audited by the Trinidad and Tobago Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries and Det Norske Veritas, against the best practices of the ISO 55000 Suite of Standards. The reports identified specific areas for improvement within the Company and prompted an internal Gap Analysis was conducted with the Operations team. This GAP Analysis was reviewed and assessed against the asset management objectives, and a plan developed for closure of these gaps. The status of that Gap analysis was reported monthly to Senior Management and shared via on the Company’s Power BI Dashboard applications.
SAP Phase 1 Project
Several projects were initiated throughout the organisation, aligned with the objective to improve the performance in the areas that were vulnerable and sustain the areas that were performing well. One project that had great impact over 2020 was the SAP Phase 1 Project. The SAP Phase 1 Project’s focus was primarily to develop a management system for maintenance data within the Computerized Maintenance Management System, CMMS. The project provided maintenance data governance to revamp NGC’s asset register and provide a foundation for maintaining asset history, to provide data for use by the organization, in decision making. The SAP Phase 1&2 Projects have utilised the Asset Management Systems Model to integrate different roles within the organization with specific competencies in asset management, discipline specific technical knowledge on NGC’s assets, as well as competence with NGC’s CMMS, to deliver a sustainable governance structure for NGC assets.
The SAP Phase 1 project’s focus recognised the inadequateness of the asset register in identifying areas that were a threat to further maintenance and reliability analysis, thus impacting asset-related decision making. The project strategy and charter were developed and sanctioned by sponsors from management and approved by NGC’s President.
The charter engaged all stakeholders: Operations teams and discipline-specific technical teams:
• Electrical and Instrumentation,
• Field Engineering,
• Corrosion Monitoring,
• Project Engineering,
• Information Technology and
This consolidated group agreed on the objectives of the project and provided resources to assist collectively in the project’s development, execution, and measurement. The project schedule was developed and communicated to all stakeholders, sponsors and management monthly.
Utilising the strategy of leveraging the internal competencies within the employee base, the team was selected across functional areas, which comprised of field discipline technicians, SAP Technologists, CMMS IT representatives and pipeline maintenance technicians.
The project was divided into three phases- development of an approved procedure for hierarchy development and nomenclature; creation of a new asset register within the existing CMMS using the approved hierarchy procedure; and providing internal employee training in the use of the CMMS and navigating the hierarchy to provide the required asset data. This process involved a continuous “plan, do, check, act cycle” at each stage, to provide assurance on the outcomes for the subsequent stages.
Development of procedure for hierarchy development
The formulation of a procedure for hierarchy development involved brainstorming within the project team to utilise the NGC asset list to create a system that would meet the requirements of all users and be simple enough for the field technician to navigate. Additionally, NGC’s assets are not based in one location, but comprises four main facilities located in three separate locations within Trinidad and one in Tobago, 159 large consumer stations and 36 small consumer stations, as well as 1000km of pipeline network (subsea and underground) that span the country.
Creation of Asset Register
The governance structure for the asset build progressed into the development a high-level zone map based on geographic locations that were divided across Trinidad and Tobago and asset classification groups for NGC assets within the zones. These classification groups utilized standardised terminology and factored the existing company’s asset tags accompanied by asset descriptions. Both terminology for asset tags and asset descriptions were standardised and a glossary developed for ease of identification. The assets were then further refined within each zone into subcategories which developed the layers of the hierarchy and the nomenclature for creating and describing them. A formal, documented procedure, the NGC Asset Nomenclature procedure, was developed guided by the international standards such as ISO 14224, which provided the standardised data format and taxonomy for the different categories of data.
Training and Testing
In an effort to manage costs on the project, but still provide the quality of delivery from each team member, a subsequent activity of training the project team to build the hierarchy within the CMMS was completed by the in-house SAP Technologist, who is the certified and trained Subject Matter Expert for the CMMS within the Company. This training was completed in a CMMS test environment for all team members, and verified by the SAP Technologist, to ensure compliance to the developed and approved NGC Asset Nomenclature procedure.
Once completed, testing took place, under the guidance of the team’s IT member. Team members would build the hierarchy in a CMMS “test environment” which was then verified and checked by SAP Technologist. Training needs were addressed if non-conformances or gaps were noted with any individual team member. Once testing was complete, the project team started the hierarchy construction within the ‘live’ environment. As the team was composed of a cross disciplined group, technical expertise in identifying asset types and functions on the Piping and Instrumentation Diagrams, P&IDs and Process Flow Diagrams, PFDs was easily integrated. Where drawings were not updated, field visits were conducted by the project team, to verify components and asset tags.
Asset history was also updated within the areas where history was available to preserve the historical information that already exists within NGCs asset register. This involved the transfer of data by asset, where available, into the new hierarchy, in an effort to preserve the existing history.
Once the hierarchy build was completed, the testing phase was executed for quality purposes where project team members cross-checked each other’s areas initially, while the SAP Technologist did a final quality check on the complete hierarchy. The project team developed a standard training presentation demonstrating the use of the hierarchy, and each team member was assigned target groups within the Company to sensitise and train the wider employee base in the use and understanding of the new hierarchy. This presentation was rolled out and communicated to all personnel within Operations, Maintenance and Engineering, as they are the primary users of the CMMS, as per the project communication plan. All stakeholder departments participated in sessions within the test environment to train users to develop competence in the use of the system. All training was administered in-house via videos and complemented by live demonstrations conducted by the SAP Technologist and team members.
Project costs and benefits
The project was managed using the Projects online tool and monthly progress reported via the NGC Leadership Team Application on Power BI. The use of in-house resources minimised the need for hiring a consultant/SAP SME which reduced project costs by more than 50%. Additionally, the utilisation of in-house technical resources added value for developing nomenclature for the system, as they were familiar with the assets and could identify and resolve issues on their own. This project resulted in the creation of SAP in-house trained superusers with master data experience, within the Operations and Maintenance teams, who are solely authorised within the Company to access master data within the hierarchy. The system’s process for asset changes is formally documented and managed by a governance procedure for any type of hierarchy changes, to preserve the quality of data within the CMMS and reduce the risk of data contamination.
The SAP Phase 1 project not only provides an updated asset register, but provides a baseline system for building maintenance, a repository of asset maintenance history and provides a central point of truth for maintenance data that can be analysed and trended for decision-making by the various stakeholders. This register also assists in properly defining the insurances for the Company as the register has a system and process for maintenance. It also allows for decommissioned assets, to be easily identified.
Further to this, the CMMS can now more accurately be used to track cost, as specific assets can be tied to the relevant account numbers to provide a more accurate value on maintenance cost, project costs per asset, and so on. Costs can further be sorted by any user, within zones, by asset type and even by discipline, which provides a more accurate picture, to the relevant stakeholders, for cost management purposes.
Critical to the project team’s success was effective collaboration, despite team members originating from different departments and from different disciplines. There was common focus and dedication by each team member, throughout the project’s lifespan, as the benefits were clearly communicated and understood by the project manager. Effective selection of team members complemented the performance, as time was optimised using technical staff and field staff who were able to perform their own field visits for asset verifications. The cost of the project to NGC was minimal as the project targeted the full use of in-house resources and competencies, in lieu of obtaining a consultancy service.
Senior Leadership’s commitment to the program and the promotion and reward of performance during the project execution, supported the project team and provided recognition to the project team’s accomplishments throughout the year. As a part of the compliance process, the internal audit function within NGC is involved in the validation and continuous improvement process for the asset management system. This involves routine audits to verify that the asset management system and asset management plans are adding value and meeting the desired level of performance as described in the asset management plans.
Third party audits are also regular part of the business where Benchmarking of NGC’s asset management systems is performed through audits by the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries, as well as third parties such as Det Norske Veritas. These audits use the ISO 55000 Suite of Standards to rate NGC’s performance on both a system maturity and equipment maturity scale. This provides an overall score of NGC’s asset management systems and process, under the twenty-four elements of the ISO 55000 Standards.
The continuous improvement of business processes and asset management systems remains an integral focus of NGC, to assure its stakeholders, employees and citizens of Trinidad and Tobago of the integrity within its operations and business. As part of the NGC Sustainability House, Integrity remains a vital pillar of NGC’s House of Sustainability, as shown in Figure 2, below.
Fig 2 -NGC’s Sustainability House