WCM Summer School 2019: ‘They are all comprehensive solutions’

The eighth edition of the WCM Summer School took place at the military base in Stroe this year. During this week, 52 students were introduced to the latest in maintenance-related theory by means of seven workshops. Rijkswaterstaat provided them with a practical case study to which they could immediately apply this theory. “We look forward to working with the proposed solutions”, RWS-director Nienke Bagchus says on the closing day.

WCM Summer School is intended for young professionals with a maximum of ten years work experience, as well as university and technical university students in the final legs of their programs. World Class Maintenance (WCM) uses its own network to recruit participants. Potential participants submit a resume and a letter of intent, which will be evaluated by a selection committee.

Zie voor de Nederlandse vertaling: https://www.worldclassmaintenance.com/verslag-wcm-summer-school-2019/

Summer School-director Jan Braaksma says: “Turning a profit is not our intention, and we work with professors and lecturers of seven different universities: this is a choice that sets us apart. We link theory to practice by means of a real practical case. Subsequently, the participants work on solutions to this in teams.”

Cooperative structure
The WCM Summer School is a cooperative structure consisting of seven Dutch universities, the ministry of Defense and WCM.

Luitenant-kolonel Henk van Gelder says of the role of the Defense department that: “the annual hosting of the Summer School is a great opportunity for the Defense department to connect to a (civilian) environment in which maintenance innovations are being developed. It provides Defense department employees with the opportunity to absorb the most current insights and developments in the field of maintenance-engineering and to expand their networks in- and outside the Defense department.”

This year, the study week is concluded by means of the selection of the best solution on the second of August. The ten teams of students present their proposals to representatives of Rijkswaterstaat and maintenance professionals, who can subsequently vote for their preferred solution by means of a ballot. 

Smart Maintenance Skillslab
Before we reach this point, however, WCM-director Paul van Kempen explains what WCM does as a branch organization and which goals it pursues. For instance, at this moment WCM directs some twenty innovation projects, and has seven operational Fieldlabs, in which companies, educational organizations and governments cooperate focusing on a central theme. Fieldlab Campione, for example, focuses on making maintenance in the process industry one hundred percent predictable, and Fieldlab Zephyros aims to optimize maintenance for the field of energy technology. The Smart Maintenance Skillslab project is a new initiative in which companies and educational organizations work together to develop and apply new forms of education in the maintenance sector to try to solve the growing shortages in the labor market, both quantitatively and qualitatively.

Young WCM
Van Kempen mentions another new initiative: Young WCM, which is an interactive platform for maintenance students and young maintenance professionals. He explains that the idea for Young WCM was formed based on the successful results of previous Summer Schools. “We want to preserve the enthusiasm and networks of the young professionals; for themselves, but also for the WCM-network. The aim is to create a platform on which participants share ideas and dilemmas, get inspired, (temporarily) participate in Fieldlabs and projects, and in doing so, expand their networks and experience.” Two teams are already working on cases for NS and Tata Steel pertaining to the question of how maintenance can contribute to the energy transition. 

The question
The question, provided by Rijkswaterstaat (RWS), for which the student teams need to formulate an answer this week, is as follows: ‘How can RWS apply smart maintenance innovations to the maintenance processes of sluiscomplex Eefde (Waterlock complex Eefde) in order to improve the maintenance performance?’

Formulating the case was a true team effort, says Angelien van Boxtel of RWS. “We worked together with Dinant Schippers of RWS, Celeste Martens of Croonwolter&dros and employees of contracting firm Mobilis, among others.”

Earlier in the week, Van Boxtel provided the students with extensive information about the water lock. A visit to the water lock was also included in the program. By means of seven workshops focusing on among other topics; asset lifecycle management, asset information management, service supply chains and predictive maintenance, the participants were provided with the required theoretical background by experts from the participating universities.

Mix of theory and practice
WCM Summer School is accessible to both WCM-members and non-members. Participant James Nwafor is from Nigeria and takes part in the Material Science master program at the university of Kiel. “I know there are many developments in the field of smart maintenance and I wanted to know more about this. I was certainly successful. Another valuable component was working as part of a team.” Yawar Abbas from Pakistan, MSc Mechanical Engineering and Ph.D. at the University of Twente learned about the Summer School from a colleague. The concept appealed to him and the practical reality confirmed this notion.

Abbas: “The Summer School is an excellent mix of theory and practice. Visiting the water lock complex was a great addition because it provides insight into the reality of daily maintenance.” 

Leadership training
Waqas Khalid, Ph.D. candidate Maintenance at the Technical University of Denmark, learned about the WCM Summer School online and decided to enroll. He indicates that predictive maintenance is approached differently in the Netherlands than it is in Denmark.

Khalid: “We are mainly active in the off-shore oil- and gas industry and focus primarily on maintenance planning. Here the main emphasis is more on the complete life cycle.”

Sascha Stikkelorum works at IES Management. Her employer drew her attention to the Summer Course. “It seemed like a great concept to allow me to learn new things and to network. This turned out to be right.” She points to the leadership training provided by the Defense department as being a surprising component. “I have learned that when circumstances change, your role as a leader can change, and that you can change your approach as well.”

The approach may vary, but the goals remain the same
Maintenance-engineer Jon Groot of SPIE Nederland had wanted to participate in the WCM Summer School for some time, and finally managed to do so this year. Groot: “What I can incorporate into my daily work is that by combining and comparing points of data one can highlight new information. At the Summer School I have experienced how one can do this using database analysis.” Sietze Bruinsma, data-analyst for the Dutch Royal Navy: “I enjoyed seeing how smoothly the cooperation between the government and the corporate sector went. The approach may vary, but the goals remain the same. I have learned that it does not matter where you work, we all operate at the same level. During the course of the Summer School one is provided with new knowledge at a high level by means of the lectures, but really, we are all still in the initial stages of predictive maintenance.”

At the closing meeting in the central hall in which the teams present their solutions, the hubbub is almost deafening. The students provide additional information about their ideas and a critical audience presents further queries. Angelien van Boxtel moves back and forth between the various teams and mentions she has seen and heard many interesting things. “It was lots of fun, very detailed, and also well visualized. But now I have to be off to the next one.” Geert-Henk Wijnants is a consultant for Stork Asset Management and, in passing, pegs teams two, five and ten as potential winners. “As a maintenance person you not only need to be able to think of a technical solution, you also need to be able to champion it. These teams have understood this.”

Assets age
Nienke Bagchus, director Network management West-Netherlands North, subsequently provides insight into the RWS organization and the management of widely varying assets to all those present. Many assets date back to the period just after World War two, and age much more quickly than anticipated due to heavier strain put upon them by being subjected to more and heavier traffic. At the same time, there is a maintenance backlog due to the many budgetary cuts of the previous decades.  “However, political support exists today”, Bagchus says while providing an overview of the many currently ongoing projects surrounding Amsterdam. She is notably impressed by the ideas she saw at the marketplace. “I have seen fun new approaches and am interested in getting started with them.” In that regard she briefly references RWS’s participation in the WCM Fieldlab CAMINO which focuses on maintenance innovation in the infrastructure sector.

Reliability first
After the ballots have been gathered and the votes counted, Jan Braaksma presents the results: Team two, featuring members from Heineken, Tata Steel, the Defense department, TU Denmark, Croonwolter&dros and SPIE, turns out to have devised the most appealing solution. The team members ascend the stage to elaborate on their approach. ‘Reliability comes first’, team two posits, and maintenance is merely ‘second’.  The approach of team two includes the improvement of the contracts with maintenance subcontractors using a condition-based bonus-malus arrangement and monitoring the water lock using a traffic light system which displays its current status. The team devised an comprehensive approach which can also be applied to other RWS assets. An interesting notion is to equip regular ships which frequently travel the same route with sensors which can, for example, map the state of the quays, in order to provide an overview of the status of the entire shipping network. This would eliminate the need to hire special ships to execute this task.

Hierna is er nog een korte paneldiscussie. Angelien van Boxtel geeft eerst een reactie op de winnende oplossing. “Team twee heeft de case goed begrepen en heeft veel goede ideeën. Het is inderdaad ‘reliability first’, want we hebben altijd te maken met veel publieke aandacht. Het idee van een incentive voor de subcontractor spreekt me erg aan, evenals het idee van het sensorschip. Maar ik heb meerdere goede ideeën gezien, ook bij de andere teams.” Paul van Kempen constateert dat alle teams aandacht hadden voor de menselijke kant van het verhaal en de noodzaak voor het toepassen van change management.

RWS-directeur Bagchus zag de input van de workshops terugkomen in de resultaten: “Het waren allemaal totaaloplossingen.”

Panel discussion
After this, a short panel discussion is held. Angelien van Boxtel first provides a response to the winning solution. “Team two has understood the case well, and has many good ideas. It really is: ‘reliability first’, because we are always dealing with high public visibility. The notion of an incentive for the subcontractor strongly appeals to me, as does the notion of a sensor ship. However, I have seen multiple great ideas, with other teams as well.” Paul van Kempen notes that every team paid attention to the human side of the story, and the necessity for the application of change management. RWS-director Bagchus saw the input of the workshops reflected in the results: “They are all comprehensive solutions.”

Mindset change
There is a back and forth dialog with the room about who actually owns the collected data. Team two addresses this by stating a mindset change is required.

Team member Diana Beemster: “If you don’t believe in open data sharing, don’t get into it. Start by discussing the strategy and the goal. What the details of the contract should look like is up to the specialist.”

The involvement of the equipment manufacturer and the purchase of assets versus buying access to assets, is also addressed.

Florian Roumen (project leader at Croonwolter&dros) of the winning team says he is pleased, but not really surprised, by having won. “We thought we had good ideas. I think we differentiated ourselves by taking a viewpoint that encompassed more than merely the water lock in Eefde, and our approach is also the most scalable; it allows for detailing down to the nuts and bolts level. What I myself have learned this week? That the diversity of a team is beneficial for arriving at good solutions.”

Reflecting on the day, Nienke Bagchus says: “It was like speed dating at the market place. The ideas are principally mostly the same, and a few interesting angles were added. One team also incorporated the end users in their story, which I thought was refreshing.” Angelien van Boxtel adds: “The core proposition of the winner is very applicable for us, especially when complemented with ideas from the other teams, so we will get started with this. Overall, I can say that all of the arrived at solutions are of a high level. The theory which the lecturers provided during the course of the past week has also been applied well.”