CEO Q&A: Key Benefits of iPlan Turnaround & Maintenance Software

In this interview, I asked Ross Coulman, CEO of IAMTech, Industrial Asset Management Technology, a UK-based software company that specialises in producing maintenance and risk reduction software solutions to industry about the company's flagship product, iPlan, and what Ross feels the 3 most significant benefits of the software are.

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Q: Ross, can you tell me about the iPlan software, and its variations?

We have three versions of the iPlan software. iPlanSTO, for those people that wish to plan and execute more effectively their shutdowns, turnarounds and outages. We have iPlanMAINTAIN which is used to plan and execute routine maintenance 24/7, 365 days a year, and ultimately, for those customers that wish to plan and execute both their shutdowns and their routine maintenance together in one solution, we have iPlanULTIMATE.

Q: If you were to choose just 3 of the key benefits of iPlan, what would they be?

A: This is difficult…there are so many, but if forced to choose, I would say the key benefits of iPlan are a standardised methodology, real time visibility and norms-based estimation.

Let me break these down…

1: Consistency in approach via a standardised methodology

The first key benefit for me of iPlanSTO is the consistency in approach and enforcing what we call the standardised methodology. So that's ensuring that everyone across an asset or a site or a collection of sites is working to that same Turnaround business process – 80:20 – so by that I mean 80% the same way, as there will always be a degree of local variation – so site specificness.

We have some global customers where they operate multiple sites in countries around the world at any one time. With everyone using the iPlanSTO software, it ensures that everyone's working, largely, to the same methodology and more importantly, we see the iPlan software as a framework for them to work within. iPlanSTO is a product, a product we can localise to an organisation's existing turnaround and shutdown methodology.

A lot of businesses will already have a process like this that they want personnel who are planning and executing events to follow. Think of it like a flowchart that they would like them to adhere to. The reality of the situation is that people simply don’t! iPlan can embed this methodology, meaning that people will follow the business process.

You do this by ensuring that you make it mandatory that the software is the means by which they plan and execute their shutdowns and turnarounds. If you do that, then it means everyone is working to your methodology for shutdowns and turnarounds, regardless of location or role.

By having your real-world methodology – business process - embedded in the software, it absolutely ensures your own methodologies are adhered to, leading to greater safety and efficiency.

2: Real time visibility

Often, before people implement a shutdown or turnaround software solution, they have a lot of Excel spreadsheets and people running around and gathering information. Then people collate that and then try to mine the data to determine where they are in the planning process or execution process.

That gathering of information, the amalgamation, the data mining and then producing a report takes time. Even if it only takes 8 hours to do that process, the information will be at least 8 hours old.

iPlanSTO completely removes that data gathering and sorting process and makes it real time, so the information is there, and it's already automatically amalgamated, mined and presented in a visualisation that makes sense to someone planning or executing the shutdown/turnaround.

Therefore, you know that the information you're looking at where you're making key decisions is current, not hours or even days old. As I said, this is generally what happens at the moment in these events. People will sit down in a morning shutdown meeting, and the data they're basing these critical decisions on can be days out of date!

You want to know the positioning here and now to be making those strategic decisions about what you're going to do next. Not on information that's already out of date.

3: More accurate estimation

The third feature is what we refer to as norm-based estimation. There will be more than one planner planning the shutdown or turnaround. Historically, when determining the duration of a task, a person (planner) would use their career of experience to have an educated guess as to how long the activity(s) are going to take.

The issue is, this does not work.

We've often put 10 planners from an organisation into a classroom during our training exercises and asked them all to determine the duration of the same activity. For example, we say we're going to create a scaffold structure that is four metres high by three metres wide and ask them how long they think it's going to take. How many man-hours and how many resources would be required to undertake that task?

We've seen wide-ranging answers from these seasoned professionals when estimating the duration of this simple job / work order. Regardless, their results or answers have ranged anywhere between three hours and 90 hours to do the same task!

That's crazy, because if you've got more than one planner working on your shutdown or turnaround, and you want to compare work orders that have been planned by different planners, you haven't got the same baseline.

The issue is they're working from their own brain and from their perspective you can see why in a video we made previously. Because of this, you can't do intelligent things like compare one job to another, because the source of the raw data comes from a human.

This is why iPlan has within it what we call a norm-based means of estimation, with norms being industry standard durations for common activities. If everyone builds their estimate in iPlan, using the norms functionality, then everyone is working from the same baseline.

This means you can compare one work order to another knowing that you're looking at the event as a whole and know that it's been baselined with the same core estimation information. You then have greater confidence in how long you think something's going to take.

Interview ends

If you would like to find out more about iPlan and how it can help your organisation, visit the product page to book a free demo.

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