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Wisconsin Public Service, a subsidiary of Integris Energy Group, operates out of Green Bay and produces about 1800 mW of electricity for northeastern Wisconsin and part of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Like Statnett in Norway, it too has had to respond to changing markets in electricity generation, along with its need for production optimization and stricter regulatory compliance.
Part of its strategy was an upgrade to the Avantis Pro EAM software from Invensys Avantis in early 2006. Now, according to Teri Wink, a generation CMMS business consultant at Wisconsin Public service, Avantis manages all the company’s preventive maintenance (PM) at its fossil fuel plants. The company is also looking to roll the same product out to its hydro and combustion turbine plants and at its new generation facility that will open in 2008.
Wink is counting on Avantis Pro to not only manage the preventive maintenance procedures for all these equipment at these facilities – everything from the turbines to single valves – but also to be the foundation of the companies move to a more predictive maintenance strategy.
One of the things Wisconsin Public is counting on Avantis for is to evaluate how effective its preventive maintenance programs are. “What changes do we need to make in PM? What role does predictive maintenance play in this? Which assets are we going to perform predictive maintenance on?” are the kinds of questions the system will help answer.
“Up to now, we have used time-based maintenance,” says Wink. Thank means essentially maintaining equipment on a fixed schedule, much as one changes in oil in a car every three months. “To get more into real-time condition-based maintenance, we need to get to where the PMs are being generated based on what’s happening with the piece of equipment. When you get into predictive maintenance, you start putting monitoring devices on the equipment and, based on what’s happening with it, you say, ‘I need to send somebody out there now.’”
The key link that will enable that transition is to the data historians that track events at each plant. The new unit to open next year will have a Foxboro DCS that will integrate directly with Avantis Pro. Avantis’ partnership with Smart Signal, which provides sensor analysis software, means a nearly seamless integration, says Wink.
But Wisconsin Electric’s integration goes beyond that. The company is integrating Avantis with is financial, inventory and corporate labor systems as well, says Wink. This linkage means that it’s easy to have a record of who worked on which equipment, how many hours they worked on it, what parts they used and when they did they job—all useful information both for optimizing maintenance operations and for providing records for regulatory compliance.
Other useful integrations include those between a tagout software module and a procedure-writing software module. “In the utility business, we refer to nomenclature in our procedures that relates to plant equipment. Since our equipment is maintained in Avantis, we integrate that so that all the verbiage, human error performance factors, etc. are all the same throughout,” explains Wink.
Integrating the tagout software with Avantis creates more efficiency and regulatory documentation. Wink explains, “Our work is planned and scheduled in Avantis. All the equipment is maintained in Avantis, as are the work orders. On the work order, we can identify that we’re going to need tags and particular permits to work on certain equipment. The system notifies workers so they can start preparing the tags and be ready when the maintenance guys are ready to start work. When the work is done, the tagout software will record the tag number, which then becomes part of the equipment’s permanent record. Because the information is being fed automatically to files, you eliminate a lot of human error.”
For Wink, the business case is clear. “You have metrics once you start monitoring,” she says. “They come in when you’re optimizing your PM program. You can ask if I make a change, what is the economic value? You will know if you get improvement based on your mean time between failures. Avantis has the information to feed into those calculations.”