Five years later, Way is still positive about the benefits. “In an operating plant, AMS remains a valuable tool,” he says. “For troubleshooting, when operations reports an instrument problem, the first step is to check AMS. Since startup we have not pulled an instrument or control valve that we did not know there was a problem with beforehand.”
And asset management isn’t just for field instruments, either. “Probably the most complex devices on the AMS network are the control valves,” Way says. “In highly sensitive loops it may be necessary to tune the control valve positioner to accommodate changes in process conditions, and when a loop does become unstable, it is possible to compare the valve response to a previous benchmark. AMS can be used to do this from a remote location.”
So, does asset management pay for itself and continue to generate savings?
“The savings are there, but it may be necessary to change the plant culture in order to get to them,” Way concludes.
The Devil’s in the Details!
When they set about to transform themselves into a world class brewer, Florence Mostaccero, vice president of technical services and business process development for MolsonCoors (Golden, Colo.), says the company spent the first three years of the project designing the change management—they convinced their teams to do it, and only then designed and implemented the hardware and software solutions necessary to make it work.
The problem with the enterprise optimization toolset, as DuPont’s Warren Way pointed out, is that you simply can’t buy the tools. You also have to integrate them into your operations, which is much easier to say than to do.
Just implementing a plan to manage field instrumentation and control valves may not put the pop back in your plants. You will first have to decide if the value is there, and what you will have to do to produce and keep that value. You will have to re-educate both employees and managers into accepting what Warren Way called “a whole new way to manage.”
Once you do that, many avenues to improve operational excellence, not simply asset management, open up to you.
Ocean Spray has expanded into managing its entire supply chain as an asset. DuPont has transformed the way it thinks about calibration and proactive maintenance of field instruments. Keyspan has provided its employees with a way to stay in real-time control of their entire enterprise, regardless of where in the world they are.
“And so,” the old instrument engineer said, as he closed the big book, “that’s how the world of manufacturing changed.”
And Technology Keeps Getting Easier to Use…
|FIGURE 3: KEYS TO THE KINGDOM|
Visual KPI software works on any Internet-enabled device.
Key performance indicators can be assigned to the performance of any asset or group of assets and then can be monitored in real time, even if you are on the beach in Mazatlan. According to Ragone, “It took longer to set up the purchasing for the project than to implement the project itself.”
Keyspan is targeting two key groups for immediate deployment: operations managers who need access to data after-hours and in off-site situations, and technicians who can use Visual KPI as what Ragone calls “a tech toolbox” to get specific data about remote locations and site areas.
Now, what if Wall Street’s analysts could carry around any company’s KPI scorecard and see corporate performance in real time?