More from Expertune/TiPS...

One of the problems I have with multiple tracks is that I haven't invented a cloning process yet... Of course, if I ever do figure out how to clone myself, I won't be working here any more (grin). So the problem remains, how to cover two or more presentations that are going on simultaneously. So here's a sample of the presentations going on this afternoon:

PlantTriage Installation at Gas Plant

Mayankumar Shah, from RasGas in Doha, Qatar, presented the application of a PlantTriage system at a natural gas plant in the Middle East. Over 400 control loops were monitored, and specific issues with the equipment and tuning were identified. Oscillation detection was used to identify the root cause of a major process cycle. Shah's presentation discussed the methods used, and the key benefits from the installation.

Techniques to Improve OPC Connectivity

John Weber from Software Toolbox gave a fascinating tutorial on key subjects for OPC Connectivity: tunnelling, scripting, bridging, aggregation, etc. He pointed out that there are a number of OPC Server vendors and they each have strong and weak points. He even talked about using Excel to aggregate data from OPC ("Ding Dong, the Witch is dead!-- the patent business is over). He provided some OPC Usage Best Practices. First, evaluate and select your OPC server,configure your OPC server, test with a test client, validate values, know what you need and how often, and then bring in PlantTriage. Tags in the OPC server when the HMI client expect/wants you to. There are plenty of reasons not to tag. You CAN pass through PLC addresses directly. Most OPC DA servers are smart enough to understand that syntax. Weber also talked about OPC UA... it ain't ready yet, but it will be...

Alarm Basics for Advanced Alarming

David Strobhar, of Beville Engineering talked about the Holy Grail. The "holy grail" of alarm management is to automatically vary alarm parameters based upon the state of the process. Alarm trip-points, priorities, and even alarming of specific conditions would change as the plant moved from steady state to upset to shutdown to startup. However, prior to making this happen, the base alarm system must meet the principles of good alarm system design. The path to the hold grail is through a well designed and and maintained basic alarm system. An example of a simple progression from an unmanaged alarm system to a partial state-based alarm system was described. Problems in applying state-based techniques to an alarm system that has not meet the basics in alarm management were delineated. Causes and pitfalls in achieving a good base alarm system were discussed, and next steps in managing alarms for a state-based approach were listed.

Documenting the Financial Impacts of Performance Improvement

Expertune's George Buckbee talked about making dollars and cents. You must show the value in economic terms. You have to move from abstract to concrete measures, because the work is not "nice to do" but it really delivers profits. Many things are important in Manufacturing Reality:
  • cost
  • quality
  • safety
  • reliability
  • throughput
  • maintenance costs
  • energy costs
Which are the most important, and focus improvement efforts on which of these are the most important. How to generate and document business value: Buckbee said, "Reducing variability is a great thing. But where you can get really big value is by "shifting your process" closer to some spec limit. The way to make money is to operate as close to the upper or lower limit (whichever makes sense) as you can. When you shrink variability and stabilize the process, it opens up the ability to approach the spec limit. This is what we call the opportunity gap-- the amount of shift you can make and stay within the limits you've set." "It is one of the realtime performance metrics offered in PlantTriage," Buckbee said. "In PlantTriage 7.0, we added a twist to this. You can find out how much a 1% change is worth very quickly. In PlantTriage 7.0 we've added a realtime savings advisor so you can see exactly what each change is worth, in financial terms." Energy Reduction is a great thing, too. Variability Reduction:
  • Close the opportunity gap
  • reduce waste and scrap
  • reduce unplanned downtime
  • reduce maintenance costs
  • improve process efficiency
But what you have to do is to express these reductions as improvements in revenue! If you don't, as Peter Martin noted this morning, it will be invisible and if it is invisible it never happened. If it never happened, the financial folks don't believe you when you say you did it.