If your plant is similar to the many hundreds of plants I have worked with, you likely have to compete for the attention and support of plant management. This simple fact is inevitable. Every single organization has numerous ongoing efforts with the intent to help support and achieve the goals which the organization values and aims to achieve. A colleague, and friend, of mine best illustrated this scenario with the simple concept of water sprinkler system in one’s yard. Perhaps I can get Mr. Isenhour to share his thoughts on the topic by commenting!
For your efforts or programs to succeed it is vital that you gain as much “Buy-in” / support from as many people within the organization as possible. Although everyone’s support is important, I fully believe Plant Management is the most critical. When I say “Plant Management”, Im specifically talking about the plant manager! There is a high probability of gaining maximum “Buy-in” if you are able to get the plant manager as an advocate of your efforts.
A few months ago I had the pleasure of spending a few hours with a plant manager of a very large operation (well over a thousand employees). Our conversation spanned across many topics from safety issues, production capabilities, reliability opportunities, projects, applicable new technologies, personnel, budgets, the community, and an assortment of problems and opportunities. I was pleasantly surprised that he spent nearly four times as much of our time together speaking directly about the opportunities and solutions rather than speaking about the problems they faced. He is an extremely busy man with hundreds of items at the plant that command his attention not to mention the many more items at the corporate level that demand his attention. So, I was mildly surprised when our conversation turned to energy. He was able to quickly covey to me exactly where his plant was relative to their industry vertical and the main areas where they were in the midst of making strides to reduce their energy usage. He even boasted, “Our plant efficiency has improved by a bit more than 4% versus last year”. I thought to myself, I’ve got to meet their site energy manager as this person is doing a fabulous job at getting the message and direction conveyed.
When introduced to the site energy management team and their manager, I commended them for their efforts which were so easily identified while walking through the plant and talking to the many individuals I had the pleasure of speaking with. I specifically asked their energy manager how she had been so successful in getting the all important “Buy-in”. Her response rang so true…”Consistent quick and concise information”. She was spot on! She understood that to get maximum benefit for their energy program she would need to present their efforts in a way that captures the plant manager’s attention while taking little or no time.
I’ve personally found that organizing your information in a repetitive fashion has benefits. What do I mean by this? Well, it’s this simple…setup a system to communicate to your boss or plant manager the right dose of information at the right time or frequency. Keep this one simple rule in mind, “speak their language”. To do this you’ve got to understand what drives them and what their pressing interests and concerns are. If you can do this, you will grab their ear and have the opportunity of obtaining their advocacy.
If you’re an energy manager, try the following: (all other mangers, adopt according to your efforts)
Daily Report: this should be the information that your plant manger sees each and every morning. This is the report that usually includes everything about the plant which best resembles the plants vital signs. From an energy perspective this needs to include two numbers which summarize the overall plant energy consumption. Make these numbers meaningful by speaking the language and representing them in terms well understood. What are they? The first one is straight energy units in a certain time period (e.g., BTU/yr., Kcal/hr., MW, or kJ); the second one is the relative number based on production (BTU/lb of finished product, MW/klb of finished product. These two numbers should be presented daily and displayed against a reference number (e.g., goals, budgeted).
Weekly Report: keep this to no more than two short paragraphs so the plant manager can read it in under 3 minutes. Provide a summary of the energy consumption with any explanation of why the number is what it is (positive or negative). Finish by telling the plant manager what energy related items took place the past week and what should be expected to take place next week.
Monthly Progress Report: the purpose of this report is provide a bit more information and detail about individual systems or projects which are either being improved or considered for improvements. Use this report to look back over the previous month and compare against expectations while providing insight for the plant manager as what to expect in the coming month. The report should be written in bullitized format with no more than a couple of sentences of details. The goal here is to highlight the efforts, mention any concerns and potential road blocks, and describe the road map through action items. if you have an energy manage,entteam this is a great place to put it items from team meetings. Because we want this report to be no more than one page, be careful not to break down each individual energy contributor. Pulling this information into large groupings (electrical, steam, water, coal, fuel, furnace efficiencies, etc.) works well.
Quarterly Report: here is your opportunity to shine! Hold a 60 minute meeting with your plant manager and leadership team. Make sure the entire energy management team is present so they too can present items they were involved with to improve overall plant efficiencies. This 60 minute meeting should be split into two segments; 30 minutes of presentation followed by open dialogue of questions and answers. This is an area where I am not real flexible. Make sure your information is put together with great attention to detail and flow. If you can’t present your message in thirty minutes then you will have a hard time gaining the support you are after. Answering their questions while soliciting for suggestions and input is vital.
So, what should you cover in this 30 minute report? Consider the following; list of improvements/projects, failures or setbacks and why they occurred, how any failures or setbacks will be fixed moving forward, ideas for new projects, budget impacts, and ROI’s realized. Keep in mind, be consistent, quick and concise with your presentation to keep the attention of your audience. Be enthusiastic, it’s contagious.
Annual Report: this report should be looked at as your opportunity to show the entir program’s accomplishments and outline how energy projects will be implemented during the new fiscal year. Be sure to highlight the involvement and input from all partis that were involved and engaged I the efforts. Include what you want to see in the next budget along with the business case for spending. Dedicate one small section of the report to present problems that occurred and how they were resolved. Make sure you focus on the positives and solutions rather on the negatives and road blocks. Corporate Executives and Plant Leadership want people leading efforts that are focused on solutions and improvements instead of pointing out all the negatives and why things either can’t or are slow to happen. This report should beno more than 15 to 20 pages and should begin with a summary tablets everything included in the report. Summary table = item of focus and one sentence describing results or solutions.
I hope you will give this system of communication a try because I know it can help you with your efforts. By improving the way you present information, you stand to make your plant manager a believer and advocate of your energy management efforts. Give it a try and let me know how it works. Also, if you have other suggestions or thoughts on this topic please feel free to share by commenting on this blog.