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Plant asset management now a reality

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Many plant managers do not know exactly how often each of their instruments needs calibrating or how much labour time is needed to ensure continuous operation.

However, according to most reputed management consultants, organisations that use company-wide asset management systems realise higher returns on asset use and performance, budgeting and planning, and inventory cycles than those without such systems.

This has led Endress+Hauser to develop a new integrated suite of tools to do all this and more.

The company approaches plant asset management (PAM) with a view to accurately determine the cost of ownership of a company’s complete process instrumentation over its whole lifespan.

The advantage of this bottom-up philosophy is that these tools are suitable for existing plants and greenfield projects.

Endress+Hauser’s PAM “tool box” comprises four 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A plant’s pipe and instrument drawings are invariably outdated soon after commissioning. The problem is even more severe in older plants, many of which do not even have drawings.

Installed Base Assistant (IBA) allows managers of existing plants to get an accurate report, similar to a plant audit, on the status of its installed base of instruments. It combines a software inventory system with Endress+Hauser’s 50 years of experience in designing, applying and maintaining instrumentation for process industries.

Typically, the company’s factory-trained technicians survey the customer’s plant, identify various process instruments and possibly control elements such as valves and drives. This may range from 1000 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 encourages a formalised approach to assessing the installed base and can 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 lets users accurately determine the critical measuring points and draw up plans for scheduled and preventive maintenance of the instruments as required. The company can then set out an asset management strategy and draw up realistic budgets to maintain the instruments over their lifecycles.

The second component is Applicator Selector. This can determine the most suitable instrument for each application. Once an Endress+Hauser engineer verifies the selection 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 serial number is generated and attached to the device so it can be tracked through the manufacturing process, its years of use and to its “death” or replacement.

In the case of Endress+Hauser instruments, the company’s SAP database allows the automatic electronic attachment of all necessary documentation including cost, materials, manuals and test/calibration certificates.

After manufacture and installation, the system is used to record all maintenance and re-calibration work along with the costs. Being a web- based system, customers can use the serial number to access, download or print all information related to an instrument.

Among the tool’s features is an ability to help with succession planning as it provides information on when models will become superseded. This allows users to rationalise spares or plan for an upgrade.

FieldCare, the third component, is Endress+Hauser’s FDT/DTM-based PAM system that can commission and troubleshoot instruments from multiple vendors.

The optimised configurations – setpoints, alarms and engineering units – are stored against the tag or serial number of each device.

FieldCare features W@M connectivity and coordinates all information management needs throughout the system’s lifecycle. It can draw data from Applicator Selector and so avoids any need to re-enter tag numbers. In addition, it stores documents, images of the instrument, its location and configuration parameters, which simplifies maintenance and replacement.

The system is easy to use, improves preventive maintenance and reduces downtime.

The fourth element is Web-enabled Asset Management (W@M), a database that holds complete and detailed records of all instruments.

This gives licensed customers secure, password-protected, 24/7 access to information on their assets.

Data 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 lifecycle statistics of all instruments and holds data on over five million devices.

Using Endress+Hauser’s new PAM system, plant managers can now accurately monitor, maintain and report on their instrumentation assets.

Managers can properly plan for change and, most importantly, are in a position to help make the business more effective because they are empowered with quick and easy access to accurate information.

John Immelman is managing director of Endress+Hauser Australia.

This article appears in the May 2006 issue of Australian Mining.

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