If you’re planning a new facility construction in the oil and gas, renewable, or construction industries, it’s time to think about your Operations and Maintenance Procedures. Do you know what you need to include in them? Get ready for the rundown on the basics, so you can be sure you check all the boxes when it comes time to craft your procedures and manuals.
What Are Operations and Maintenance Procedures?
Operations and Maintenance Procedures ensure that employees and management are managing and maintaining facilities to the best of their abilities while completing their jobs safely and efficiently. Also known as O&M procedures, these particular documents should contain details on standard business operations, safety procedures, and maintenance of the facility and any equipment in the building.
Overall, the procedures should include information and steps for completing the the day-to-day activities required for safe and efficient work. And rather than having one large manual, it can be more effective to develop manuals for each of your functional teams – one for your janitorial team and one for your maintenance team, for example.
Why Are Operations and Maintenance Procedures Important?
Not only do Operations and Maintenance Procedures help organizations meet regulations and requirements established by industry, federal, state, and local governments, but they can also, lower operation and maintenance costs, improve productivity, efficiency, and ensure that workers stay ahead of workflow. These documents keep disruptions low, and if anyone has a question about proper procedures, they can just return to the documentation
Operations and Maintenance Procedures allow you to
- Establish all essential information in one place
- Lower confusion in the event of questions or emergencies
- Improve training
- Speed up onboarding
- Set standards for both protocols and quality
- Ensure compliance standards are met
- Work to prevent equipment failures
How Do You Create O&M Procedures?
O&M Procedures aren’t documents that are set in stone. Instead, they should evolve with your company. If your organization switches to a new type of machine, for example, you will have to update your manuals. When you’re just getting started with your new facility, however, you should complete a few major steps:
Craft an Outline
The first step in developing O&M procedures is to do a “brain dump” (or a mind map, for more visual thinkers) and then organize it into an outline of what you plan to include. Start with what you think the manual will cover and who it is meant for within your business. This will help give you direction and ensure you are collecting the right information going forward.
If you’re not sure what the manual should cover, or how to write it for easy understanding, it may be worth your company’s time to work with a technical writing team. Technical writers have the experience necessary to create clear and concise manuals and procedures that are simple for your team to follow, while also understanding industry standards and requirements and how they must be met in these documents.
Information gathering should be your next step. Your organization should begin researching and cataloging essential information that will directly affect what you include in your manuals and procedures.
Useful information to collect can include:
- Site surveys
- Drawings of facilities
- Facility specifications
- Equipment standards, maintenance, and requirements
- Material lists
- Vendor information
- And any other details that will prove vital to your organization’s operations
It’s a good idea to involve your employees in this step, especially if work has already begun at your facility. They can provide valuable information about their duties, how they currently complete their work, safety concerns, and more.
Organizations also need to review any industry and government requirements. Each industry has its own guidelines for safety, operations, and procedures. The oil and gas industry, for example, requires Standard Operations Procedures (SOP) and Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) compliance manuals. These documents will cover guidelines, QA inspection details, installation, operation, maintenance, and more. The exact documents your company requires will depend on your industry, work, and locale.
This is also the time to collect any relevant documents that your company already has on hand. These could include warranties, user manuals for equipment or computer systems, rental agreements, original equipment manufacturer (OEM) guidelines, and other paperwork.
Write the First Draft and Get Feedback
Using the outline you have developed and the information you have collected, your organization should next work to create first drafts of any manuals you plan to have. The documents you develop shouldn’t just be blocks of text. Instead, use bullet points and include detailed steps, diagrams, and relevant graphs, tables, and images. This will ensure that the manuals are easier to read and follow.
Once you have your drafts, it’s time to approach employees and stakeholders and ask for their feedback. Here is where you will uncover additional information that you excluded or forgot, and be able to clear up any questions. Don’t skip this step! It is critical in ensuring that your end users can easily read and follow your documents. Failing to include all necessary information can lead to serious consequences in quality, productivity, and safety. Mistakes in your maintenance protocols, for example, could result in injury to your employees or damage to your equipment.
Complete and Regularly Update the Documents
After several rounds of feedback, your O&M procedures should be ready to go “live.” Be sure to publish them in a format and location that are easily accessible to your users. This could be online, in print, or both.
And as your company, machinery, and scope of work evolve, so should your procedures and manuals. They need to be regularly updated to contain new and pertinent information, safety measures, and contact details. Think of your O&M procedures as living documents.
What Documents Should be Included in O&M Procedures?
You now know the proper steps to creating your procedures, but what information should they contain?
The Scope of the Manual
The first step to creating any manual, whether it contains all of your organization’s procedures or is primarily for maintenance or another aspect of your business, is to explain the scope of the manual and any details necessary to understand the information in it.
These sections should include
- Information on what the manual is about
- An explanation of who the manual is for
- Necessary definitions to understand the documents
- The revision history
- Table of contents
- Appendixes on an as-needed basis
Standard Operating Procedures
Standard Operating Procedures (also known as SOPs) should detail all routine operations and procedures. These documents need to outline roles, and responsibilities associated with those roles, as well as goals, business processes, safety guidelines, regulatory requirements, and clearly outlined steps for any day-to-day job or task. They can also explain how to properly use software, hardware, or other tools needed in the facility.
SOPs can also cover
- Contact information for all vendors
- Contact information in the event of an emergency
- Flowcharts for decision-making
- General information about the company
- Maps of the facility
- Procedures for disposal of assets or waste
- Training procedures
- Onboarding practices and schedules
Operating Procedures for Equipment
Also required in O&M procedures for new facilities are SOPs on safe and proper equipment operation. These manuals should have details on
- Regular operation of equipment
- Safety warnings
- Technical specifications
- Machine operation and components (Tables and diagrams can be helpful here)
- Emergency procedures
- Plans for decommissioning equipment
Your maintenance SOPs should contain plans, schedules, and procedures for ongoing maintenance, including planned, predictive, and corrective maintenance activities. These details will help prevent breakdowns, maintain functionality, get machinery back online quickly in the event of a problem, and possibly even extend the life of your equipment. These documents need to include
- Troubleshooting instructions
- Maintenance task descriptions
- Identification of spare parts
- Storage requirements
- Maintenance schedules
- Inspection schedules
- Warranty information
- A list of service providers and their contact information
- A list of tools and materials required for maintenance
- Safety procedures to follow during all types of maintenance
- Maintenance checklists
Procedures and manuals should also be in place for cleaning and janitorial tasks in your new facility. These documents could detail preferred cleaning materials and methods, safe cleaning practices, indoor air quality monitoring information, and general instructions for cleaning and maintaining the inside and outside of a facility, equipment, or grounds.
Why Should You Work with a Technical Writing Team for Your O&M Procedures?
Creating Operations and Maintenance Procedures for new facilities can feel like a huge undertaking – and it is. There is a lot of ground to cover when opening a new location, and your procedures need to be available to employees once work begins on a site. Taking these steps sooner rather than later will ensure that efficiency and productivity are up to par from day one while also reducing confusion due to lack of instructions.
Remember, though, that when opening a new facility, you are at something of a disadvantage because you’re lacking the valuable employee feedback that comes only with time. This could mean that your procedures and manuals are initially missing vital information pertinent to a job, task, or maintenance activity
Working with a technical writing team like Shea Writing & Training Solutions can offer will help ensure that you’re not missing the mark. Our writers specialize in industries like oil and gas, renewable energy, and construction, and understand what manuals, maintenance schedules, and SOPs need to include – allowing you to focus more on efficiency and productivity while also meeting compliance requirements. If you’re curious about how we can help you create brand-new Operations and Maintenance Procedures for your facility, get in touch.