The Planning and Scheduling tools that an organization has or doesn’t have for IBM Maximo can make it or break it. The right tools can set off a pattern of sustainable, continuous improvements that increase efficiency, slash downtime, and decrease costs. The wrong tools can bleed an organization dry. It’s a death by a thousand cuts – wasted time here, lower wrench time there, excessive outages and spare parts costs; it all adds up.
This is as true for North American utilities, factories, plants, post-secondary institutions, power gen facilities and oil and gas companies as it is for those around the world.
Which is why AKWIRE can be found across the globe. When exciting new partnerships beckon, you go. Even if it means you need to do a little “time travel”.
Partnering with Avenue IT
In 2017, Solufy’s Matt Midas and Richard Almendarez met Joey Hoang-Bui, Viet Tran and Quang Nguyen of Avenue IT at GOMaximo, an annual conference in Houston. As a premier partner of IBM, Avenue has over a decade of experience implementing IT business solutions in Asset Management and Maintenance and working as Maximo implementers and maintainers.
It was the perfect conversation starter.
With their solid reputation in Vietnam and Asia, what Avenue needed was the right Planning and Scheduling tools to offer their IBM Maximo clients. Quickly, both Solufy and Avenue saw the potential for a partnership opportunity.
When it came time to decide who from the Solufy team would make the journeys to Vietnam, Senior Business Development & Client Services Keith Schramm was an obvious choice. With over 25 years’ experience in IT and IBM Maximo, and many of those as Maximo consultant, Keith was more than up to the task.
Keith began working with Maximo in-depth in the early 2000s as the Principal IT Analyst for El Paso Corporation in Houston, Texas. He cut his chops upgrading their systems from Maximo 4.1.1 to 7.1 on a system with 1,500+ users. Simultaneously, he also oversaw the implementation of the AKWIRE vScheduler – little did he know in a few years, he’d be sitting on the Solufy side of the table!
This made him the perfect candidate to travel to Vietnam to help Avenue IT with the first implementation of AKWIRE.
In October 2017, Keith made his first 28-hour journey from Texas to Ho Chi Minh City. Immediately, Keith was struck by the vegetation and greenery. “Everything is so lush,” he says. “There was so much beautiful plant life, not to mention all the rivers, dotted with boats. And the mountains! Everything was photo-worthy.”
From there, it was a two-hour drive to Vung Tau, where Keith and the Avenue IT team would begin work on the first implementation of AKWIRE in Vietnam, at a government-owned utility called PetroVietnam Gas (AKA PV Gas).
But of course, Keith wasn’t there for sightseeing; there was a lot to do and it was time to get started.
A view of the coast in Vung Tau, Vietnam.
Keith and the Avenue IT team had their work cut out for them on a jam-packed two-week timeline.
“In just two short weeks, the Avenue IT team and I completed a workshop, configuration, integration testing, user acceptance testing, training, and go-live.” Keith says. “That kind of timeline wouldn’t be possible with other scheduling solutions, or with bigger implementations.”
The Avenue IT team setting up training.
At the end of the two weeks, Keith made his way home to Texas. Going such great distances, is akin to time travelling, he says. “I literally landed and the local time was before my departure time…yet I’d flown for 12 hours! How do you figure that?”
Next, Avenue IT and Solufy were ready to take on a bigger implementation – one with Binh Son Refining and Petrochemical (BSR) Limited.
Arriving at BSR, Keith was treated to a tour of the facilities. “I’ve been to many refineries in my career,” Keith says. “This one was by far the cleanest and the quietest refinery I’ve ever been to.”
BSR knew they had an opportunity to optimize their Planning and Scheduling, which would ultimately save them time and money.
Binh Son Refinery
Their goal is to synchronize work order activity across various departments to minimize downtime and disruptions to production that are caused by uncoordinated maintenance activities.
This means they weren’t just implementing AKWIRE; they were optimizing their Planning and Scheduling processes. To do this, Mr. Quang Nguyen and Mr. Khoa Tu Dang of Avenue IT and Keith went “back to basics”. They got some markers and started drawing out the processes on a whiteboard, strategizing how to redesign BSR’s Maximo framework and workflows.
“Avenue IT’s Maximo expertise is above and beyond,” Keith says. “To get the most out of all the AKWIRE functionalities, Avenue redesigned BSR’s Maximo workflows so that they will get the most benefit.”
In doing so, Avenue IT was able to save BSR employees countless hours of repetitive, record-by-record data updating. “With this one workflow,” explains Keith, “The BSR staff had to go Work Order by Work Order to route each record to the next employee. 100 work orders meant 100 clicks. It was a huge drain on their time."
"As a result of Avenue IT’s expertise, now the staff can go into AKWIRE and bulk update the Work Order statuses. Additionally, Avenue IT introduced an escalation in Maximo that will automatically route Work Orders, making great use of AKWIRE’s ability to bulk update WO statuses. All in all, BSR is going to save a huge amount of time and labor.”
While being able to strategize and come up with solutions that would have immediate benefits for the BSR Planning and Scheduling teams was immensely satisfying, Keith and the Avenue IT team were in for another uplifting moment during training.
Mr. Khoa Tu Dang of Avenue IT leading AKWIRE training at BSR.
With the visibility that the AKWIRE vScheduler offers, BSR can centralize scheduling. AKWIRE vScheduler, vCalendar, and vTimeSheet will enable the BSR team to group work by area, discipline, craft, and downtime requests, while effectively managing resource availability and capturing actual hours on the work being performed. This will allow the Planning and Scheduling team to align downtime and ultimately minimize disruptions and optimize operations at the plant.
“This was some of the most inspiring training I’ve ever been a part of,” Keith explains. “We had a ton of training to complete in a relatively short amount of time and we were training over 100 people. So, there I am, giving training, and the Deputy Director and Maintenance Manager of the entire refinery is in the room. And it just clicks! He can see how this tool is going to transform their processes. He jumps up and starts co-leading the class with me. The passion with which he spoke was incredible. This was revolutionary for him and his team. He knew this was going to change the way they do business.”
Deputy Director and Maintenance Manager, Mr. Le Nguyen Quoc Vinh, takes the reins training BSR staff on AKWIRE.
By the end of his third trip to Vietnam, Keith and the Avenue IT team completed workshop and assisted with the functional design specification where they carefully reviewed BSR’s unique needs and goals for AKWIRE. Then, they configured and implemented the AKWIRE Visual Suite, including user acceptance testing, training, and go-live.
The Avenue IT team are now more than ready to lead AKWIRE implementations across Vietnam. All that was left to do was for Keith to catch his flight home.
Keith (foreground) and Mr. Ha Pham Thai (Avenue IT, left) and some members of the BSR team take a quick selfie during AKWIRE training.
“Being in Vietnam was an incredible opportunity,” Keith says. “Not only was I working with great people, but everyone was impressed by the AKWIRE Visual Suite and the capabilities it provides them. But I also had the opportunity to learn so much about Vietnamese culture; these were once-in-a-lifetime experiences.”
Keith and Mr. Giang in Vung Tau.
One of the best “extra curriculars” for Keith was the chance to try much of the local Vietnamese cuisine. “I had some truly delicious food – traditional pho that was so fragrant and flavorful; sweet tofu with coconut milk, which was delicious. And fresh, fresh seafood. I enjoyed the fish market, where all the vendors were laughing and enjoying themselves. It was a real sense of community.”
For Keith, this was the end of his trips to Vietnam for the foreseeable future. But for Solufy, it is just the beginning of a partnership with Avenue IT – and just the beginning of introducing the power of AKWIRE to Vietnam and beyond.
Keith Schramm, Solufy and Mr. Joey Hoang Bui, Avenue IT
Vice-President, Co-founder, Solufy
With over 30 years of experience in Information Technology, Gerry provides invaluable customer-focused insights to Solufy’s product development team. His strong customer success orientation has played a leading role in the evolution of the popular AKWIRE VisualRead More..
Vice-President, Co-founder, Solufy
With over 30 years of experience in Information Technology, Gerry provides invaluable customer-focused insights to Solufy’s product development team. His strong customer success orientation has played a leading role in the evolution of the popular AKWIRE Visual Suite of products for planning and scheduling professionals in the IBM Maximo user community.