Is a Change Management Process Important?

Published:
By Jeff MacKinnon, P.Eng.



First, what is change management or a change management process?

A change management process is a set of steps, or workflows, that document a change from proposal - approval - implementation - testing, allowing for each step to be verified and tracked.

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Practically it is a process that includes the document control system, procurement, management and engineering; allowing for all parties to be informed in the decision making process. A good change management process allows for different business units within a facility to work together effectively and allows everyone to have their projects completed in an effective manner.

What about the Power System

The electrical power system presents a unique challenge to any change management process. Today it is easy to change a setting in a protection relay or electronic overload without leaving your desk, but this can cause selective coordination issues.

Another challenge is the relative ease to change breakers, cables, add loads, change loads, etc compared to other systems within a plant, and the affect that these changes can have on the over all system. For example, adding a large motor to a spare bucket in a MCC lineup is relatively simple, and typically the only item that will be looked at is the loading on the MCC. If the commissioning of the motor doesn't trip the upstream protection you are good to go.

Well that is the thought: in reality you have very likely affected the system load flow by adding additional inductive load. You've also possibly changed the incident energy levels at the MCC buckets leading to improper PPE during energized work.

A change management process will include the following:

  1. Propose the change to the engineering group
  2. Engineering will then study the affects by updating the power system studies
  3. Implementation documents are created, and existing document revised (and tracked)
  4. Installation is completed and any field changes reflected in the documents.
  5. Engineering verifies completed installation and updates power system model

Implementing a Change Management Process

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Most facilities will have a process for large projects - whether they are maintenance projects, or capital improvements - these projects will have their own process that will likely capture all the steps that we previously mentioned. However, it is the smaller projects that can get lost in the mix, and add up to significant changes to the power system during the 5 year study cycle. Both CSA Z462 and NFPA 70E recommend that the arc flash analysis be updated every 5 years, which will include updating all the other power system studies.

If the power system model, or at a minimum the drawings that the model is based on, are continuously updated, the process of updating the arc flash analysis will be trivial.

For smaller facilities I always recommend that they have a single, well developed and controlled set of one-line diagrams that they use to document all changes to the power system. This can be a hard-copy that the electrician red-lines as they go, and in a lot of cases this is preferable. When the drawing has been redlined enough, or on a set schedule the CAD version will be updated and a new revision issued. This system has the advantage of the drawings being with the person that is completing the work, and being current.

If the facility is larger, or has the staff to accommodate it, an electronic process can be implemented where the changes are proposed, reviewed, accepted, work orders created and work verified.

Conclusion

Change management is essential for a plant, faclity or process to operate smoothly and predictably. Easypower has a dedicated package called Electrical Change Control Module (ECCM) which tries to solve these problems by introducing a workflow that enables everyone to get their work done. Below is a webinar they published in Dec 2014.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_fJPEumoGw

If you have had an opportunity to use ECCM at your facility I would like to hear your thoughts about it!