Case Study-Tennessee Valley Authority
The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is the largest supplier of power in the United States, serving some 8 million customers in the eastern United States by generating energy using fossil, hydroelectric, and nuclear fuels. Not long ago, the nuclear division, which has three facilities, revamped its maintenance management system–a system that relies on documents, such as manuals from vendors, drawings, and work instructions, that are regulated by government.
TVA spends more than $48 million a year creating maintenance work orders and then planning and performing the work. One plant alone processes 14,000 work orders a year. Government regulations that oversee the documentation of this work contribute significantly to TVA’s high maintenance costs.
The improvement project was handled by a team from various parts of the nuclear operation. They analyzed and charted the existing work processes, determined which improvements were most needed, and investigated how those improvements were most needed, and investigated how those improvements could be achieved. They spent 350 hours interviewing people and looked at 15 other utilities.
One thing they discovered was that the work orders were inextricably linked to document workflow and the ways procedures were managed. Previously, the three areas – work order management, document workflow, and procedure management – had been viewed as separate, and thus managed separately. Upon investigation, the team realized that every work order included accompanying diagrams, documentation, and procedure instructions. However, the three were not always in sync. For ex, a work order might be planned several months in advance, but in the meantime, procedures might be changed, yetthose changes were not noted when the work order was about to be performed.
The new process designed by TVA electronically combined maintenance orders in one system with procedural document management in another system and eliminated a number of existing systems that did not talk to one another. Maintenance workers can now access documentation on equipment, parts, and records as well as work instructions from desktop machines. Work orders are generated electronically and then routed for approval with the most current drawings and procedures electronically attached. In addition, the documents are indexed by, say, piece of equipment, and the three plants now use the same systems. Thus, maintenance people can review past activity and better plan for the future.
The system has been successful, but the team underestimated the change management effort needed. They did not realize they had to bring many employees up-to-speed on using computers; some had not used keyboards. In addition, the team realized they should have set expectations differently. Rather than emphasize the benefits of the new systems to each employee (because sometimes the new systems required more work of some employees), the team should have emphasized the benefits of the system to TVA, which were significant.
The average amount of human time spent processing a work order has decreased by almost half, from 39 hours to 23 hours; labor savings are large. More importantly, maintenance workers now have captured data for improving processes.
problem 1: Using the exs given at TVA, what would be typical objectives of an electronic workflow management system?
problem 2: Describe the approach of the team in enhancing the processes at TVA and how do you think the change management should have been managed at TVA?