Take a hub approach to asset management
Looking now at the operations phase, no aspect of asset ownership can fail to be improved by ready access to validated information. Among the more important examples are:
- Handover: Progressive turnover of engineering information from major/sustaining capital projects to operations.
- Master data preparation: Enable the generation of master data controlled records for your enterprise asset management system.
- Improved compliance reporting: It becomes easy to aggregate essential information into configured reports for on-demand or scheduled audit of regulatory compliance.
- Improved shift handover: Shift changes are widely recognized as a leading contributor to unplanned downtime, reduced plant performance, and serious incidents. Digital shift handover packs become easy to configure, combining a variety of static, log, and real-time information in a convenient and easy-to-use form.
- Risk-based inspection: Combining intelligent and navigable 3D model views with process and other data greatly facilitates risk identification and the deployment of effective inspection and maintenance strategies.
- Incident response: In an emergency, effective action demands immediate, on-the-spot access to relevant, trustworthy information. This is only achievable with Digital Information Hub technology.
Experience has shown that, where such a system is deployed for well-defined engineering purposes, users quickly find new and unexpected ways to exploit it, often in other areas of the enterprise. The full potential is limited only by one’s imagination!
The brownfield challenge
Greenfield projects are a minority compared to the number of existing plants in need of continual upgrade and modification. There are some powerful new technologies which serve this important market, based on the use of 3D laser surveying. Perhaps less well-known is how laser scan data can be used to add intelligence back into an as-built digital plant which may have very poor quality information assets.
First, one should not assume that the Digital Information Hub concept cannot be applied to existing assets. It can; and I would strongly argue that it should be, as regulatory authorities are progressively tightening environmental and safety requirements on plants of any age. An information management system is likely to become mandatory in order to meet future compliance criteria.
The value of 3D visualization in supporting plant operations is rapidly being recognized. Laser scans are the preferred means of capturing an accurate 3D as-built model, and these too can be integrated with other data within a Digital Information Hub. But it is now possible to assign tag reference hot-spots to individual objects in the scan, such as pipes or valves, enabling a user to “walk” through the laser model, “touch” an object, and navigate immediately to all its associated information. The potential this offers is easy to visualize.
Capturing a complete information asset from fragmentary data from obsolete IT systems; poorly updated, damaged, or missing drawings; and so on may seem impossible, but a Digital Information Hub approach at least makes the challenge manageable. Automatic validation and cross-referencing functions show exactly where, and how significant, the information gaps are, enabling informed and prioritized resolution. A 3D laser scan can even be reverse-engineered into an intelligent CAD model.
This capability meshes well with the widespread use of laser scanning by plant modification contractors, bringing us back to the greenfield project handover situation. Not only can the EPC execute accurate, right-first-time and well-planned modifications, the digital information created can be readily imported into the owner-operator’s Digital Information Hub. It is easy to see how, over time, successive plant modification projects can contribute to the creation of a complete Digital Plant information asset. The business value is considerable.
AVEVA is a leader in engineering design and information management solutions for the plant, power, and marine industries. For further information please visit www.aveva.com/ednotes.
Annual Salary Survey
After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.
The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.