From software and hardware to facilities and equipment, smart management of a company’s assets has long been proven to significantly benefit a company’s profitability. In the area of process instrumentation however, there have not been any tools to effectively manage these assets over their entire lifespan.
Many engineers and plant managers find it difficult to know exactly how often each of their instruments needs to be calibrated or how many hours of a technician’s time is taken to ensure continuous operation. Instrument failure may lead to costly downtime for a plant and adversely affect the company’s bottom line.
According to most reputed management consultants, organizations that use company-wide asset management solutions realise higher returns on their asset management activities – including asset utilisation and performance, budgeting and planning and inventory cycles – than those that lack such systems.
Endress+Hauser have developed a powerful new integrated suite of tools to do all this and more.
The company approaches plant asset management (PAM) with a view to accurately determining the cost of ownership of a company’s complete process instrumentation over their life span. The advantage of Endress+Hauser’s bottom-up philosophy is that these tools may be used for existing plants as well as for greenfield projects. Endress+Hauser’s PAM ‘tool box’ comprises four powerful and integrated systems: Installed Base Assistant for existing plants, Applicator Selector for new projects, FieldCare, and Web-enabled Asset Management (or W@M).
A plant’s pipe and instrument drawings (PIDs) are invariably outdated soon after commissioning. The problem is even more severe in older plants, many of which do not even have PIDs. Installed Base Assistant (IBA) allows managers of existing plants to get an accurate report, similar to a plant audit, on the status of their installed base of instruments. It combines a powerful software inventory system and draws on Endress+Hauser’s 50 years experience in designing, applying and maintaining instrumentation for process industries.
Typically, the company’s factory-trained technicians survey the customer’s plant, identifying the various process instruments and possibly control elements such as valves and drives.
This may range from 1,000 to 10,000 tags. The technicians record a host of details including tag and model number, manufacturer, vintage and status based on a visual and electrical check. IBA has been designed to encourage a formalised approach to assessing the installed base and can therefore handle instrument data from any manufacturer.
The data, analysed at a joint meeting with the customer, often uncovers redundant, faulty and obsolete instruments.
IBA’s risk assessment database allows users to accurately determine the critical measuring points and draw up plans for scheduled and preventive maintenance of the instruments where required. The company can then set out an asset management strategy and draw up realistic budgets to maintain the instruments over their life cycles.
The second component of Endress+Hauser’s PAM ‘tool box’ is Applicator Selector and project engineers use this powerful software to determine the most suitable instrument for each application.
Once the selection is verified by an Endress+Hauser factory trained engineer and a purchase order is issued by the project, the data is uploaded and sent to one of the company’s 21 factories and instrument production commences. At its ‘birth’, a unique serial number is generated and attached to the device enabling it to be tracked during the manufacturing process, through its years of use and to its ‘death’ or replacement.
In the case of Endress+Hauser manufactured instruments, the company’s SAP database allows the automatic electronic attachment of all the necessary documentation including cost, materials, manuals, and test/calibration certificates. After manufacture and installation, the system can be used to record all maintenance and re-calibration work and the associated costs.
Being a web- based system, customers can use the unique serial number to access, download or print all information related to an instrument thus offering a powerful tool to manage their plant assets. Among the unique features is the tool’s ability to assist with succession planning as it provides information on when models will be superseded allowing the user to rationalise spares or plan for an upgrade.
FieldCare, the third component, is Endress+Hauser’s FDT/DTM based PAM system that can be used to commission and troubleshoot instruments from multiple vendors.
The optimized configurations ie. setpoints, alarms, engineering units, are stored against the tag or serial number of each device. FieldCare features W@M connectivity and coordinates all information management requirements throughout the system’s life cycle.
FieldCare can draw data from Applicator Selector thereby eliminating the need to re-enter tag numbers. It can store documents, images of the instrument, its location and configuration parameters, greatly simplifying maintenance and replacement. FieldCare is easy to use, improves preventive maintenance and reduces downtime.
The fourth element of the PAM ‘tool box’ is Web-enabled Asset Management or W@M – Endress+Hauser’s database which holds complete and detailed records of all instruments giving licenced customers secure, password-protected, 24 x 7 access to information on their assets.
Data that can be stored and accessible includes model details, manuals, manufacturing certificates, original order number, hardware and software versions, spare parts information and service history among a host of other details. The system records the full life cycle statistics of all instruments and currently holds data on over five million devices.
Using Endress+Hauser’s powerful new PAM system, plant managers can now accurately monitor, maintain and report on their instrumentation assets. They can properly plan for change and most importantly, will be in a position to help make the business more effective since they are empowered with quick and easy access to accurate information.