Serving up asset management

Asset management is like pizza that comes in many flavors and styles. It can be cut into several pieces, cooked with ingredients from home, or ordered out. So, would you like yours thin crust or deep dish?

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By Rich Merritt, Senior Technical Editor


ASSET MANAGEMENT (AM) is like a pizza. It can be cut into several pieces: loop tuning, maintenance management, condition monitoring, etc. You can cook AM by assembling all the ingredients yourself, or you can buy it already cooked by a full-service supplier. AM comes in many flavors and styles too. These range from the deep-dish, Chicago-style version, with more capabilities and ingredients than you may need or want, to thin-crust types, with just loop tuning or computerized maintenance management software (CMMS). Finally, AM can be delivered to your plant for local consumption, or it can “served” to you from remote computers.

AM Tastes Efficient, Yummy!
Unlike some of the vaporware that plagues our process control industry, AM software actually works, and it works well. Michel Gaumond, electrical maintenance coordinator at the Alma Division of Abitibi-Consolidated, a paper mill in Alma, Quebec, Canada, recently installed a new control system on a new paper machine, and used asset management to help make it all work. “System commissioning was done using the AMS asset management system from Emerson Process Management,” says Gaumond. “This simplified calibration, control configuration and verification of various field devices. With AMS, commissioning took less time than we expected, and made it possible to document every step. It allowed us to find and diagnose problems during testing and startup. We performed many tests on the various systems before the actual startup, and AMS was extremely valuable when troubleshooting.”

Abitibi-Consolidated continues to use asset management during operations to fine-tune the process (See Figure 1 below). “Our Continuous Process Improvement Team includes engineers and operators, who are dedicated to solving problems that come up during operation, and devising ways to further optimize and refine the process,” explains Gaumond. “This team has a dedicated set of DeltaV workstations in a separate room, where it can analyze data from DeltaV historian, event logger and AMS, as well as OSISoft’s PI historian. The team spends 100% of its time solving problems and optimizing processes.”


Engineers and operators at Abitibi-Consolidated’s paper mill in Alma, Quebec, use asset management to find problems and fine-tune their paper machine. Source: Emerson Process Management

Maintenance comes after startup and operations, and AM has the right ingredients there too. “We’ve trained the maintenance group how to use tools such as equipment diagnostics. We now have a full year of equipment performance data, such as valve signatures, and we’re learning to perform predictive maintenance. For example, we can compare the current signature of a valve to the signature when it was installed, and determine if the valve is working properly.”

Though Abitibi-Consolidated is using software from two of the process industry’s biggest AM suppliers, Emerson and OSISoft, similar success is possible when using AM software from less famous firms. FileNet, for example, is known for its enterprise content management (ECM) solutions in industries that often drown in paperwork.

Duke Energy, an integrated power and natural gas company in Charlotte, N.C., was similarly submerged in documentation and subsequently aided by FileNet, according to Steve Morgan, Duke’s electronic document management integration manager. “Duke Energy is composed of 700 subsidiaries and joint ventures, with offices from Charlotte to London,” says Morgan. “It faces a number of regulatory requirements on its three nuclear and 27 fossil-fuel plants.”

Morgan adds Duke must maintain records on litigation support, sales contract management, enterprise resource planning (ERP), financial accounting, manufacturing and engineering, change management, engineering document management, regulatory submissions, process safety management/OSHA, health/safety/quality, specifications/estimates and procurement, maintenance/repair/operations, and research. Keeping track of this data may sound deadly dull—much like eating a frozen, supermarket pizza—until you realize AM’s direct benefits.

“In the past, nuclear plants were down for 45 days when undergoing regularly scheduled shutdowns,” says Morgan. Much of that was filling out regulatory paperwork. “Thanks to FileNet’s solution, Duke Energy has been able to bring a plant back online in 21 to 30 days. Considering that such plants generate $1 million dollars per day in revenue, this can add up to a substantial amount of extra income for the company.”

Abitibi-Consolidated and Duke’s applications and requirements show that proven AM software from large or small suppliers can make your process more efficient, productive and manageable.

Making the Crust
Pizza starts with making a good crust. In a process plant, the crust is real-time plant floor data. Getting real-time data into asset management is getting easier all the time because modern control systems can deliver data in a standard, usable format. As Dave Ochoa, Emerson’s director of strategic planning, puts it, “Many assets in modern plants and mills are intelligent and self-diagnosing. These assets communicate by industry standard protocols, such as fieldbus and HART. System interfaces are available which pass information directly through the control system, multiplexers and linking devices.”

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