Maintenance management for effective operations management at Matimba Power Station
Mutloane, Oufa Ernest
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Effective and efficient operations management is the cornerstone of any company's success. Presently, because of cost-cutting pressures, all investors look out for companies' operations before making any investment commitment. The South African Government (through the Department of Public Enterprises), as an owner and investor in Eskom, is looking at optimising operational excellence within state-owned enterprises like Eskom. Eskom is presently experiencing problems with increased electricity consumption which it cannot meet due to the limited plant capacity it presently has. These challenges are forcing Eskom to be more efficient and effective in management of the present plant assets (like Matimba Power Station) it presently operates. Matimba Power Station has consistently shown improvement in the areas of plant, financial and operations performance over the last three years. It is presently the standard bearer for the whole Eskom in terms of plant and operational performance. Asset management (through maintenance and management thereof), especially preventative management with in a power utility like Eskom, is a critical factor because supply (generation of electricity) has to meet demand (consumption of electricity) instantaneously as electricity cannot be saved. The planning, scheduling and execution of maintenance (through a work management process) to ensure success of business operations are very critical. An Eskom document titled Routine Work Management Manual emphasised the criticality of preventative management and included a six-step process of work management within the power generation business. The Japanese success in ensuring that operations costs are limited by implementing total productive maintenance (which includes work management) is suggested in the study as a way to go for operational success at Matimba Power Station. Many of the research studies done at Eskom in regard to maintenance were based on and confined to a sampling population of senior staff members like managers, engineers and supervisors. Experience has shown that progress of implementing change (whether in systems or structures) is slow if there was no proactive involvement of all participants and stakeholders, especially employees at lower levels involved in operations. A work management process, which is one of the pillars of total productive maintenance, was recently implemented at Matimba and is currently experiencing teething problems which are being attended to. Employee involvement in making sure of the success of work management is critical. The study investigates the implementation of work management from the employees' perspective in order to address problems for possible full implementation of total productive maintenance.
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