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The offshore O&M framework agreement revolution

by Aug 13, 2019ZITON0 comments

As the offshore industry becomes more robust, stakeholders are starting to see how cooperation, data-sharing, and experiential knowledge are key to successful operations and maintenance framework agreements.

Historically, just like other fast-growing industries, companies in the offshore wind industry tried to optimise their operations on an individual basis. This may have been the right strategy in the early days of the industry, but as the offshore industry matures and becomes more robust, long-term strategies are required.

With this new stage of maturity, companies are attempting to figure out how to shift their thinking to be adaptable to the industry’s evolution. Thus, to meet the industry’s increasing demands, industry stakeholders need to work together to optimise operations.

If each stakeholder participates in this cooperative way of thinking, they can not only plan for their long-term future, but can participate in creating how the industry functions in the future.

Key stakeholders are shifting mindsets

As the offshore industry develops with new regulations and consolidation, the benefits of stronger collaboration amongst stakeholders is becoming obvious. Some major players have already integrated this collaborative mindset into their business strategies and see the value of choosing O&M suppliers that use framework agreements to provide more flexibility and lower long-term costs.

One such stakeholder is Vattenfall Wind Power, one of Europe’s largest producers and retailers of electricity and heat. ZITON has had a long-standing relationship with Vattenfall for major component replacement, starting in 2016, and now with a four-year horizon.

In entering into the framework agreement, Magnus Jansson, Project Manager at Vattenfall Wind Power said:

“We believe that signing a contract for a major part of our wind farms with a preferred partner like ZITON will enable us to develop long-term cooperation. [Long-term cooperation] leads to lean and industrialised work processes where we can reuse and refine our learnings across sites. This will make Vattenfall an even better and more efficient operator.”

New maintenance framework agreements lower costs

The idea of the innovative framework agreement is to make it as easy as possible for companies to keep their turbines running at the lowest possible cost. As any O&M expert with years of experience in all aspects of O&M planning and execution would encourage, a turnkey maintenance agreement should guarantee O&M services help reduce the overall costs of operating wind farms. But how can O&M supplier agreements help reduce costs?

With these agreements, companies allow O&M suppliers to apply their knowledge and have more scheduling freedom. By doing such, it enables O&M providers to deliver the best package deal. For example, by having a flexible window of time to complete maintenance orders allows the O&M supplier to create the most optimal route to conduct multiple maintenance tasks on various turbines within close proximity to one another.

This flexible window methodology helps all stakeholders to save money, time, and resources. For example, if only given short notice about a maintenance task, it costs a lot more to deliver a jack-up vessel than it would be if given advanced notice.

Providing the whole package

These maintenance framework agreements are the entire package to meet a stakeholder’s O&M needs. For instance, in ZITON contracts, we acknowledge we are responsible for all the documentation, the tools, the processes, the plans, and the technicians. Most notably, we take responsibility for handling risk. With years of offshore experience, we are used to operating in specific regions and know how to best operate in their specific soil, wind, and currents. Therefore, the only thing companies need to do is provide the data for us to provide them with the most contextual service.

Data kings and partnerships

While modern maintenance contracts are one component of a long-term mutually beneficial partnership within the offshore energy industry, data storage and sharing are another vital component. O&M has always played a role in the offshore wind industry and in reducing the overall cost of running a wind farm. Now, O&M suppliers can help the industry accomplish this more with the use of data.

Everything O&M suppliers do is done as thoroughly and technically sound as possible. That’s why O&M suppliers are keen to collect and store a wide range of data to better understand the history and context of a project. The wide spectrum of data collected for each project includes site-related data such as geolocations, water depth, soil, currents, wind and weather conditions, among others.

But it doesn’t stop there. O&M suppliers also collect maintenance data such as the different products installed and the different tools used, such as which brands, make and type.

Smarter solutions for collaboration

With such a large collection of data, a robust data management and analysis system is unavoidable. O&M suppliers would do well to house a massive database to help them know how to operate in specific regions and handle risk more efficiently than most in the industry.

Moreover, these databases allow suppliers to try to predict what will happen in the future, for example when maintenance or component replacement is required, and documentation of warranty obligations.

Though this information allows O&M suppliers to provide the best services to clients, this information-rich data should not be kept to ourselves. Since the efficiency evolution of the offshore industry is concentrated on cooperation, its important to let customers and partners tap into this wealth of knowledge too.

Another way to better ensure easy cooperation is employing a file collaboration and sharing tool, as a medium to connect to customers and allow them to know all that we know.

It’s a way to show complete transparency with collaborators, which is one of the main pillars of the industry’s evolution.

Bent Thambo Jensen, CCO

“The idea of the innovative framework agreement is to make it as easy as possible for companies to keep their turbines running at the lowest possible cost. As any O&M expert with years of experience in all aspects of O&M planning and execution would encourage, a turnkey maintenance agreement should guarantee O&M services help reduce the overall costs of operating wind farms.”

Bent Thambo Jensen 
Chief Commercial Officer, ZITON