Work Smarter, Not Harder Cutting Fat through Maintenance Optimisation

In an industry like Oil and Gas when margins are tight and profits rest on a fluctuating market, one of the toughest questions to answer is how to keep down costs without compromising safety and integrity. With heavy investment in assets, a proactive approach needs to be used in order to ensure that resources are protected and enhanced.

As the old adage goes, prevention is always better than the cure. Today, almost 50% of maintenance carried out is done on a reactive basis.  This is a marked departure from the general rule of thumb that plans Preventative Maintenance (PM) : Corrective Maintenance (CM) as 6:1.  Therefore, as machines break down and costs pile up, we’re left to rue the staggering inefficiencies.


The North Sea has been one of the most fruitful sites for oil and gas exploration in recent times, with many fields in the region operating far beyond their predicted lives. Unfortunately, this is not the case for many today, data published by UK’s Oil and Gas Authority points to a staggering drop in asset production efficiency from 81 percent in 2004 to just 60% in 2012. Although this has increased to 71% during 2015, it remains a long way from best in class, at the cost of several hundred million dollars in direct costs and lost production.  .

In 2015, 72% of production losses were attributable to plant losses!  With constant production and exposure to harsh weather conditions and pounding salt water, it’s almost inevitable that plant and machinery will break down. Once faced with these failures and shutdowns, it may be days or weeks before replacement parts and specialist servicesmay be available.  Consequently, these figures make it obvious that the maintenance regimes and plans currently in use are not adequate.  During times of plenty, the inefficiencies are overlooked because of the large profits, but the oil price slump has brought that starkly home.  A massive overhaul is required.

Theon and Maintenance Management

What Theon offers is a system for collating the precise information given by the CMMS, such as total and equipment specific downtime, rework percentage and planned as well as unplanned maintenance work carried out. This data is then put through our bespoke Reliability Centred Maintenance processes which identify critical processes and those at most risk, which we use to strip away unnecessary maintenance, plan new schedules and remove those processes that have no use whatsoever.

Real world application has shown a readily achievable 25% reduction in labour hours, and a far lesser need for spare parts and vendor support.  These improvements not only reduce costs but free up resources for other commitments, allowing an efficient utilisation of all your working components.

Continuous Improvement

Optimisation is a never-ending process. As circumstances change, companies need to adjust with them. This is why we recommend a reassessment of preventative maintenance strategies every 3 to 5 years, as your asset profile changes with changing production profiles, new procurements and existing equipment aging.TheCMMS will deliver new data that enables us to deliver more relevant strategies and planning to fit your asset needs, while sustaining safety and integrity.

More broadly, real-time data must be used to identify trends in asset performance. While CMMS can store metricsincluding oil condition analysis, vibration levels, and thermography, they can be used far more effectively when combined with performance data to provide much more predictability of performance and maintenance.  Therefore, better use of real-time monitoring, sampling and equipment data should be exploited to predict maintenance needs and remove preventative maintenance, thereby eliminating waste and inefficiency.

No Task Too Big

A common problem put forth by those involved in planning maintenance requirements is the lack of available data to build processes around. We have found that current CMMS gives us all the necessary breadth and depth of data we need to move forward. However, in order to ensure all necessary information is being provided companies must educate their technical staff on the requirements for effective data capture, which can be used to feed plans and improvement activities. By examining the data, we can understand which core skills are most critical for the effective function of plant and machinery, and move to streamline the vendor support staff to small specialist crews. Again this will free up resources and ease the planning of logistical requirements.

An Introduction to Theon

Formed in 2011, Theon Limited is a multi-disciplinary engineering, asset integrity and project management consultancy.  From the wellhead to the production facilities, from concept through to development and operations, all the way to decommissioning and disposal – Theon possesses the complete suite of disciplines required to provide support to your organization.

For existing facilities we support clients in operations management including operational readiness and assurance, performance excellence and reliability and maintenance optimisation.

Management and Leadership

Brian Mercer is the Managing Director for Theon Ltd.  He has a diverse background with some 30 years of experience covering varied fields and disciplines such as: Oil & Gas, Aeronautical Engineering, Project and Programme Management, Operations, Maintenance and Reliability Management and Asset Integrity.

He has directed and managed a number of organisations and businesses including: Brownfield Projects and Modifications, Oil and Gas engineering consultancies, aircraft engineering and engineering training companies, as well as several other maintenance focused operations and projects.

Mr. Mercer is a chartered engineer holding a Bachelor’s degree from Heriot-Watt University and a Master’s degree from Kings College London.


By attacking the problem of maintenance inefficiency from several vantage points, Theon is able to provide a complete solution for maintenance optimisation. Management input, CMMS data and real time monitoring all come together with a commitment to education and improving individual knowledge a technical level. The costs saved as a result, speak for themselves.