In this blog series, we’re examining how an automated approach to operations and planning processes can help organizations improve compliance and streamline processes across the organization to add more business value. Today we’ll take the first of two looks at facility ratings management, specifically FAC-008.
NERC’s FAC-008 requires that utilities define and maintain a Facility Ratings methodology, apply that methodology to its solely and jointly-owned BES Facilities, and communicate those Facility Ratings to impacted parties. This is a complex and nuanced process.
For example, as new equipment is added or existing equipment modified, the impact of these changes to the Facility needs to be evaluated. Based on the ratings change, necessary actions will need to be taken, usually within a specified time frame.
There are several equipment data points and complex formulas that determine the Facility Ratings. For example, an equipment rating can be determined based on the equipment manufacturer’s nameplate. When the nameplate is unavailable, utilities can use:
- Manufacturer’s equipment specifications
- Equipment test reports
- Engineering specification and drawings
- Purchase orders
- Documented engineering judgement.
The equipment’s normal and emergency ratings also have to be taken into account. In some cases, there will be separate normal/emergency ratings for summer and winter seasons. These are just some examples of what goes into determining the equipment’s rating, with several such conditions and variables that need to be considered.
In addition to the complexity of the requirements, it can be challenging to comply with the FAC-008 standard because related work is often distributed and shared across various business groups. Information is typically maintained in a whole host of ways, including Excel spreadsheets, in-house databases, and occasionally commercially available point solutions, but is rarely managed in an effective way.
In fact, in our experience the majority of organizations are still using spreadsheets to manage their Facility Ratings. The challenges with these manual processes are clear. If you change something in one spreadsheet, you need to make the same change in every spreadsheet (assuming you know what and where they all are!). This wastes time and can introduce significant potential error, leading to inconsistent and inefficient processes.
Change management is a struggle as well. When assets are added or removed from the field, you have to manually remember to update the spreadsheets as well as rely on tribal knowledge to know which Facilities are impacted. Even if an organization has a point solution that addresses Facility management processes, it’s not usually integrated into their asset management database. As a result, they still discover the ratings errors prevalent in more manual methods, like omissions, clerical errors, and lack of information.
Taken together, the requirement to ensure proper ratings, the implementation of documented processes, and maintaining proper evidence make FAC-008 significantly complex and difficult to manage. While you can get away with manual techniques for some operations and planning standards, FAC-008 benefits significantly from a more streamlined approach.
We’ll cover a better alternative for facility ratings management in Part 3 of the series, 6 Ways to Automate Your Facility Management Processes.
SigmaFlow is a leading provider of Process Execution solutions. The company’s NERC Compliance Solution is a real-time, evidentiary based software solution that solves the challenges of CIP & 693 Compliance. The SigmaFlow Compliance Solution manages all documents, data, and work activities while automatically collecting and building the evidence for NERC compliance in a real-time repository. SigmaFlow products place a strong emphasis on embedding domain knowledge through a process-driven template-based-architecture. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.