• Novice
  • Aware
  • Competent

Operations Manuals

Operations manuals are essential for the efficient and effective operations of any system.

The manual should include a complete and thorough description of the general aspects of operations as well as the details of the component (asset) itself describing:

  • The Component (asset)
    • Its part in the system
    • Its relationship with other system components
    • Its classification and how it is controlled
    • Its major sub-components
  • The Component/Operation
    • Normal operation including the start-up process
    • Normal shut down process
    • Alternative operation modes
    • Emergency shut down or operation and failsafe procedure
    • Common operating problems
    • Monitoring procedures
  • Maintenance (especially if no computerized system is available)
    • Normal maintenance procedures
    • Detailed work listings, tasks etc
    • Special maintenance procedures
  • Equipment, tools and labor needed to complete planned tasks
    • Special parts, spares
  • Advice to Staff on System Operations, such as:
    • Flushing water supply mains
    • Maintenance of sewerage reticulation system
    • Backwashing of sand filters
  • Emergency Response Plans
    • Developed at facility/asset/component level.

Providing operations manuals on electronic systems such as multi media CD products will enable maintenance and operation personnel to:

  • Access the information in relation to a specific asset or its components
  • Update and vary information as practices change
  • Use drawings, photographs, exploded views of assets in their maintenance activities.

Where an electronic operations manual is provided, the information including any schematics, should be directly linked to the asset information system at the appropriate level in the asset register system, as shown below:


Operation manuals must promote efficient operation of any system.

The operation manual should record the knowledge of the staff in the operation of their facilities.

These manuals should be continually updated:

  • To match the current facility operations
  • According to feedback on asset performance or renewal strategies.

Operation Manual Structure

The manuals must be set up so that they can be easily updated and kept current. Staff should be encouraged to continually review and update the manuals and to add to and expand all sections that may benefit future staff and future operations activity.

Graphics should be included in the manual. These can be line diagrams, isometric diagrams or photographs of the actual assets. Graphics can convey a large amount of information that would be virtually impossible to convey by text.

Videos of experienced staff performing routine activities can also be very useful as an instructional tool.

A manual is best structured in the same logical pattern as the facility that it covers.

An example is the breaking down of a manual for the maintenance of a spillway dam by unit process.

Each unit process can then be broken down to its sub-processes and then further to the individual equipment items.

Each equipment item and unit process needs to have its start-up, shutdown, and abnormal operation procedures covered.

A manual with text broken into logical pieces that correspond to the units of the facility, which it describes, is not only easier to use by the operations staff, but easier to update.

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