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Bayer Discusses Its Early Experiences in Using the ABB System 800xA Platform for Asset Optimization

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A new asset management system may promise to alleviate production headaches, but, according to Bayer HealthCare’s David Kavanaugh, the real prescription for project success hinges on the involvement of all stakeholders in the implementation process.

Kavanaugh, principal PCS engineer at the company’s global headquarters in Berkeley, Calif., spoke of lessons learned in asset optimization by his company at the ABB Automation and Power World 2009 this week in Orlando. “Once implemented, reevaluate the abilities of the new system,” he explained. “And use your end users a lot on this. Planning and scope are critical, but be flexible. We thought we knew what we needed, but we didn’t. The maintenance guys who are using it came up with a lot of changes.”

Partnering with IT support is important too, because its network is critical to success. “Our IT department now thinks we have the best equipment,” said Kavanaugh. “You also need to partner with your manufacturing and maintenance departments at the beginning. Gaining their support is critical.”

David Kavanaugh
“With complexity comes flexibility and opportunity.” Bayer HealthCare’s David Kavanaugh discussed the company’s early experiences in using the ABB System 800xA platform for asset optimization.

While ABB’s System 800xA offers more functionality than a traditional distributed control system, it is more complex, Kavanaugh said. “But with complexity comes flexibility and opportunity. Embrace opportunities to get all parties involved with a project. With today’s capital restrictions, if you don’t have all parties involved, you’re not going to get the cooperation.”

ABB equipment has been on-site at the Bayer HealthCare facility for more than 20 years, but the asset management solution has been a relatively recent addition.

“Our past asset-monitoring programs were homegrown,” said Kavanaugh. “We used a Microsoft Access PC-based paging system. We provided some advance warnings, but they’re unreliable and they’re homegrown and unsupported. We’ve also used SOPs [standard operating procedures] for asset monitoring, but they’re very structured. The problem with SOPs is the work may not be needed.”

Four buildings at the Bayer facility still are running MOD systems (an earlier generation ABB control system) as well as an older PBB-based pager system for alerts. “We put in the System 800xA asset optimization running in parallel with MOD,” explained Kavanaugh.

At Bayer, the asset monitoring took a lot of collaboration with the maintenance department, said Kavanaugh. “We’re still working on this one,” he admitted. “Bayer is no different than other companies—we’re siloed. To get maintenance to buy into asset management, which is an engineering function, it’s challenging. We’re mainly using it for pre-alarms right now. Operations has been more receptive to forming a partnership than maintenance has.”

Cost was a driving factor for choosing the ABB system. “We already had the DCS, and we can monitor all of those assets in the ABB database,” explained Kavanaugh. “We’re also learning through the IT management how to monitor assets outside the ABB database. The license fee is inexpensive because it’s on a per-tag basis, and there’s a common interface, so there’s less training. Integration with the DCS also means a time savings. The DCS already is in place, so it’s a matter of configuring the existing software.”

Bayer HealthCare’s System 800xA is using MOD Connect. “We can’t afford a major shutdown, so there’s no downtime due to a switch-over,” explained Kavanaugh.

The remote services are a growing convenience for Bayer, too. “We’re definitely taking advantage of them,” said Kavanaugh. “The latest asset-optimization implementation was done completely remotely by the group. Part of the Bayer implementation included remote access, so security had to be assured, too.”

One of the first assets Bayer included in its new system was on a heat exchanger. “So far, the implementation has been relatively limited,” explained Kavanaugh. “We have done a heat exchanger, an early-warning paging system and IT asset monitoring. We had a heat exchanger where a belt-driven fan would suddenly fail every six to 12 days. Previously, they’d just go out and replace the fan belt every seven days. We found out the motor amps would increase right before a failure would occur. By putting the asset monitor—a permanent load monitor— in there, we could monitor the amps. Once it reached the threshold, it would generate a page that would go to the maintenance people, who would schedule a belt replacement.”

Thus far, reliability has improved dramatically. “We’ve lowered maintenance cost for the paging system,” said Kavanaugh. “We’ve improved the ability to respond to our process problems. And we have the ability to monitor our IT assets. This is becoming very important because I have 110 servers. Remote access has been key for us. The process engineers love this. They can access remotely through ABB Remote Services. This has saved us a lot of money. We’re also equipped for third-party monitoring. ABB has come in quite often. With the new upgrades, we’ll allow third parties who are building our skids access to our own libraries.”

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