What does successful operations & maintenance look like?

When the construction vessels have moved off site, handover is complete and the transformers are humming away, the O&M team take over and it will be down to them to deliver the financial returns (and CO2 savings) that were promised to owners, investors and other stakeholders at the project planning stage.

Successful O&M on an Offshore Windfarm does not happen by magic so here are 10 top tips for successful Operations and Maintenance in Offshore wind.  Over the coming months we’ll focus on each of these in more detail…so check back often to learn more…

  1. The O&M concept and strategy needs to be agreed and planned during the earliest part of the project development stage and all decisions about the windfarm project need to be seen through “O&M eyes”.  Have a clear and early strategy for OFTO requirements too.
  2. Form a core O&M team early and bring in a range of disciplines – build the team with a focus always on your key goals for the operational phase.  Don’t be afraid to bring in people from other sectors – their experience can be hugely valuable and they can bring new dimensions – focus on attracting people with the right attitude
  3. Develop an understanding of what data you want to collect from first energisation – imagine you end up with no OEM support at the end of the warranty phase – what do you need to know to run the site well?  Collect information on spare parts used, labour hours worked and causes of breakdowns (and the most effective repair solution!) throughout the O&M phase including the warranty period
  4. Understand your data and processes before deciding what computerised system you need and before taking part in any demos – ensure you know what your need is and don’t get seduced by “features” you don’t need
  5. Start with a flexible transfer vessel strategy before committing as you need to understand the conditions, capabilities and performance of these key assets so you can minimise repair times and transfer people safely
  6. Encourage local companies to work with you to develop new services – the further your key contractors have to travel the less flexibility you will have to use them during periods of poor weather / changeable weather – local is best and also benefits the local economy too
  7. Make your plans flexible and plan for periods of good and poor weather.  Planning is key to fast repairs which in turn increase income and profits.  Before handover make sure you also make and track operational readiness plans
  8. Use the time before handover to really understand compliance issues – these can be varied and include grid compliance, H&S law, local port requirements, lease clauses, OFTO agreements, consent conditions as well as commitments in your maintenance agreements and warranties – you will never get this time again so use it wisely and ensure the whole team has a good understanding of compliance issues
  9. Get to know your stakeholders and help them to get to know you better – effective relationships are the key that can open a seemingly locked door.
  10. Finally, make sure everyone knows what success looks like and celebrate your successes as a team!