Can consolidation create sustainable long-term value, or will it prove seductive but, ultimately, disappointing to shareholders, employees, customers, and management alike?
Workforce Automation: Where Rubber Meets Road
said than done.
In January 2006, New Orleans-based Entergy launched a project to harmonize O&M processes, including supply-chain management, at the nuclear power plants owned by the Entergy South and Entergy Nuclear business units. Entergy hired Ventyx—which was formed from the combination of workforce-management firms Indus International and MDSI—to standardize O&M, procurement, and engineering processes. Also, the new processes were optimized to streamline workflow, improve efficiencies, and integrate with Entergy’s PeopleSoft ERP system.
By creating a fleet model for operating its nuclear plants, Entergy hopes to maintain the facilities more consistently, share their outage workforce more effectively, and provide better metrics for analyzing and improving work processes.
“If everyone is using different practices and procedures during outage management and execution, it’s difficult to transfer and leverage resources,” says Terry Maxey, vice president of utility solutions for Ventyx in Atlanta. “Bringing everyone into the same system allowed Entergy to become more efficient about using resources, and to eliminate some contractors.”
While Entergy is using the Ventyx work-flow processes only for its nuclear fleet operations, the company is planning future implementations in its transmission and distribution businesses. Entergy already uses MDSI systems for mobile workforce management in its distribution operations. As the utility installs more automation systems in its power grid, it may replace its home-grown asset-management and supply-chain systems with Ventyx applications to take advantage of the same scale economies and integration benefits it has gained in its nuclear fleet.
“Better utilization of utility resources is not just limited to the T&D grid, but can be found in the generation business too,” Maxey says. “With less chance of personnel error and more effective asset management, standardized business practices are a great tool for preventing unplanned and forced outages.”
River Bend Nuclear facility photo courtesy Entergy.