Fieldbus / Wireless

Cloud-Based Asset Management

Suppliers Can Use the Cloud to Provide Remote Access to End Users, and to Analyze Data for Asset Management and Other Purposes

By Dan Hebert

Rockwell Automation uses its cloud-based platform to not only provide remote access for its customer applications, but also to supply data from various sites to its own internal support staff, who provide data monitoring and analysis of customer assets for a fee (see figure).

"Our Remote Asset Performance Management (APM) solution uses the Microsoft Windows Azure cloud-computing platform to provide both a plant-wide and an enterprise-wide view into the performance of assets," says Dr. Anil Gokhale, PE, global manager, process and process safety technology for the systems and solutions business at Rockwell Automation.

"The Remote APM solution can easily interface with existing systems or be the automation platform for new systems for a variety of process applications. Remote APM makes data accessible from the cloud via mobile devices and web browsers. It also allows operators to produce reports and dashboards for insight into asset and process performance," continues Gokhale.

Also Read: What's Hiding in the Cloud?

"Our Virtual Support Engineer services use the Azure cloud platform to monitor customers' process-specific information, as well as equipment health. Data is collected and made available via predefined dashboards to a customer's in-house operations and to Rockwell Automation's remote support engineers. Alarms are sent to the same audience when equipment issues a warning, a fault or goes out of pre-defined tolerances," reports Gokhale.

"Using this information, remote support engineers can proactively contact customers, and begin working on issues before downtime events occur. When an event does occur, having access to historical information greatly reduces the time spent troubleshooting and significantly decreases downtime duration. As we connect to more equipment and collect more data, we can develop additional algorithms and logic to do more predictive analysis to improve asset performance and uptime," concludes Gokhale.

Hilcorp Energy Company has oil-drilling platforms and operations off Alaska's rugged Kenai Peninsula, and it recently upgraded pumping equipment from gas lift compressors to more efficient and reliable submersible pumps. The pumps are controlled by medium-voltage drives, and are remotely monitored by the Virtual Support Engineer service from Rockwell Automation.

"We went with the Virtual Support Engineer service from Rockwell Automation to make sure we were minimizing downtime and keeping the right spare parts and equipment running at all times," says Mark McKinley, facilities engineer at TBAK-Hilcorp Alaska. "When one of our facilities goes offline, we could lose between $100,000 and $300,000 a day.

"The service gives my support staff comfort offshore—the last time we had one of our wells trip offline, within five minutes Rockwell had someone on the phone telling operators what broke and what to test. The staff was able to verify the issue, replace the part, and get it back online immediately. I am convinced it saved six or more hours of troubleshooting."