Originally, asset management began as a way to go beyond simply maintaining operations and uptime, and determine how to get the most value out of equipment and production systems over the course of their lives. More recently, however, this quest has drawn traditional asset management into a host of new settings where its basic principles are being joined by new software, communications and mobility tools to generate even more long-term value.
For instance, Meridian Energy is New Zealand's largest state-owned power utility, and provides about 30% of the nation's electricity to about 180,000 business, residential and rural customers—all from renewable sources, primarily hydro and wind (Figure 1). It's New Zealand's only supplier of carbon-zero-certified electricity.
Figure 1: Meridian Energy integrated its CMMS with Honeywell's PAM system to better monitor and analyze data coming into its centralized control room from its hydro and wind power plants in New Zealand.
Photo Credit: Meridian Energy and Honeywell
The Road to Prediction
To shore up their monitoring and secure more useful intelligence from their raw sensor and alarm data, Meridian's Generation Improvement Team sought to integrate their IBM- and Maximo-based computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) and plant historian with a plant asset management (PAM) system from Honeywell Process Solutions. It would not only provide early warning of deterioration of critical equipment, and perform basic analysis based on the mathematical models in its diagnostics, but it would also provide predictive capabilities. Designed around its central controls and plugging into modular adaptors, the utility's PAM uses several Honeywell solutions, including:
- Alarm Management software to provide real-time alarm and event visualization and analysis, which replaces multiple alarm printers, monitors operations and operator workloads, and helps eliminate nuisance alarms;
- Asset Management software that consists of an advanced data analysis and online computing platform for troubleshooting process problem and faults, and an interface for implementing mathematical models used in diagnostics;
- Control Performance Monitor for continuous, real-time asset monitoring, and identifying and prioritizing poor performers; and
- Operational Insight that provides PAM's flexible data visualization and key performance indicator (KPI) dashboards, enabling better operational decisions by providing web-based access to PAM's control center.
Working in concert with their existing CMMS, Meridian's plants and equipment give PAM condition data and results of many on- and offline automated and semi- automated tests. Plant data is analyzed with mathematical asset models, classified and collated with business logic, and plant dashboards are updated showing condition and predicted days to failure. When a non-normal condition is detected or predicted, an email recommending specific action is automatically sent to the right personnel.
"The biggest success that's come out of PAM is a substantially increased visibility of transformer conditions," says Mark Williams, an engineer at Meridian. "Prior to the PAM implementation, transformer condition monitoring data relied on individuals to enter the test results into Maximo, and then others to analyze that data and publicize the results in sufficient detail to flag any health issues in a timely fashion. If there were any changes in staff, either at Meridian, the maintenance contractor or the laboratory providing the results, and a test result could easily be missed or analysis deferred. Also, in developing the PAM models, specialist expertise was used to improve our transformer condition monitoring program, and job plans were upgraded. The tests we carry out use international standards, such as IEEE standards and industry best practices for the transformers."
Neil Gregory, Meridian's technology and process strategist, explains, "We really didn't and still don't expect PAM to pick up catastrophic conditions on a daily basis, but we do expect and get very early warning of changes in condition that we wouldn't get without the system. In the big picture, PAM is a cost-effective means of maintaining visibility of the health of assets that are critical to our business, whether they're transformers or any other piece of equipment. PAM is a decision-support tool that's here for the long haul, and the benefits and value we'll get from it will only increase as more data is entered."
Bart Winters, asset management solutions product manager at Honeywell, "We focus on asset health, real-time performance and monitoring, but now we're also protecting users and their applications against the precursors of failure. So, we're still monitoring vibration, current changes, oil analysis and infrared thermography, but we also compare each performance to an ideal parameter, which helps define what it means in the context of its particular operating unit. This means we can look at a whole process system and all its components parts in one place, and this saves a lot of time on troubleshooting, finding problems, and getting back to production."
Streamlined by Software
While asset management is historically a costly, time-consuming and labor-intensive undertaking, continuing improvements in software and data processing components are making it more approachable for a wider circle of users applying it to more varied projects that go beyond maintenance to each new levels of optimization and sustainability.
For example, Mohawk Fine Papers in Cohoes, N.Y., recently saw its energy costs balloon by 30% over a few years, and redoubled its efforts to reduce its energy consumption with better asset management. "Energy makes up about 60% of Mohawk’s operating and maintenance costs, and our motor and pump assets consume 75% of that energy,” says Paul Stamas, Mohawk's vice president of IT. "So, management needed visibility into data on the factory floor for better decision making, and we needed an EAM system that integrated energy into our asset management strategy."
As a result, Mohawk selected InforEAM condition-monitoring software from Infor, which has a web-based architecture, integrates seamlessly with the company's enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, and works with its Microsoft SQL Server 2005 database software. Stamas reports that InforEAM allowed Mohawk to improve preventive maintenance with more proactive inspections, calibrations and repairs, and even worked with SQL Server to add video files to its work instructions. Because better maintenance reduced it total energy consumption, Mohawk also decided to implement InforEAM Enterprise Asset Sustainability software.
Figure 2: New Belgium Brewing's bottling and packaging line recently adopted Wonderware MES Performance software decrease downtime by 50%, save $400,000 in planned labor costs, and increase capacity to 1.3 million barrel per year.
Photo Credit: Schneider Electric and New Belgium Brewery
Kevin Price, EAM product director at Infor, reports that InforEAM, version 11.1, expands the traditional jurisdiction of asset management beyond reporting and maintenance to including more advanced condition monitoring, inspections, reliability and other functions. "People used to have multiple SCADA systems, and so it was often a challenge to get alerts or trend them over time," says Price. "What we do is develop a combined roadmap that understands a user's overall system and the requirements that will impact it, and enhance their return on asset (ROA), reliability-centered maintenance (RCM), asset performance management (APM) and other initiatives."
Similarly, New Belgium Brewing Co. in Fort Collins, Colo., recently discovered that scheduled and unscheduled downtime on its bottling lines were causing it to produce only 150,000 cases of beer per week on lines that were capable of producing 294,000 case per week (Figure 2). "After ramping up our bottling line to meet growing customer demand, we were disappointed to find the brewery was producing only about half of what it was capable of producing,” says Joe Herrick, packaging systems manager at New Belgium. "Our brewery’s existing manual systems generated a huge amount of data, but we had no way of presenting it in context."
Consequently, New Belgium sought help from system integrator Apex Manufacturing Solutions in Boise, Idaho, and they decided to implement Wonderware MES Performance software from Schneider Electric. The software not only tracks and records the bottling process, but it also turns raw data into user-friendly presentations that help improve performance. For example, Wonderware MES facilitates shift changes by providing new workers with data on the performance of the previous shift, and integrates with the brewery’s existing Wonderware System Platform and Wonderware HMI software. These combine to improve operators’ ability to maintain precise production schedules, and manage the materials supply chain during the brewing process.
"The ability to customize the graphics with Wonderware MES software let us develop a system that could communicate the line status and production capacities of the bottling and packaging lines," says Sam Vail, chief strategy officer at Apex. "Screen data shows what order is being worked on, what's coming next, and how the current rate compares to their standard. This is how how Wonderware software enabling New Belgium to increase capacity, expand production, and improve quality without investing in new equipment."
Herrick adds, "With Wonderware MES coupled with our continuous improvement strategy, we increased the efficiency of our packaging line by 30%, which allowed us to extend our packaging capacity to about 1.3 million barrels each year. Improved manufacturing efficiencies plus increased line production means we saved more than $400,000 in previously planned labor costs, and decreased downtime by 50%."
Besides aiding routine operations, some asset management software can even help out during set up and configuration. For instance, Royal Dutch Shell recently worked with Emerson Process Management to develop a more efficient configuration solution for Shell’s Prelude floating natural gas (FLNG) production vessel project, which will operate off the coast of Australia. With more than 5,000 Foundation fieldbus devices at the Prelude site, many with more than 100 configurable parameters, Shell was concerned about the time it would take to complete commissioning tasks. Configuring the devices one at a time is error-prone and laborious—configuring one device can take up to an hour, and then configuration for each must be verified.
Consequently, Shell adopted Emerson's Asset Management Software (AMS) Suite: Intelligent Device Manager software, version 12.5, which can commission Foundation fieldbus devices faster. Users can bring devices online with features, options and alerts they select in a fraction of the time normally required. Emerson expects AMS Suite to reduce commissioning time on smart devices by almost 80% compared to existing practices, and allow users to make online changes to many devices simultaneously. Also, the software's Device Manager User Configurations tool enables users to standardize asset configuration and eliminate configuration errors. Users can apply configuration templates to device placeholders or live devices, so they can be commissioned one-by-one as field engineers are wiring the segments or automatically in groups. Built-in reporting allows users to quickly validate that parameters have been applied correctly.
"We expect to reduce commissioning time and loop testing for Foundation fieldbus devices by 10,000 to 20,000 man-hours for mid-size to large projects with this new functionality," says Rong Gul, Shell’s corporate subject matter expert on smart instrumentation and instrument asset management.
Management Goes Mobile
No doubt empowered by their spiffy software capabilities, many asset management systems also appear to be freeing themselves from fixed applications and individual locations with help from wireless networking, Internet protocol (IP) communications and cloud computing services.
Honeywell's Winters reports that one of its largest customers, Shell again, uses its exception-based surveillance (EBS) bridge to monitor numerous wells from floating oil rigs and floating, production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessels in water that’s thousands of feet deep with wells operating thousands of deeper below the surface. The EBS bridge secures data about real-time operations, production system diagnostics and asset performance analysis and optimization from hundreds of assets, including compressors, submersible pumps, sub-sea valves and other well equipment, and even monitors complex well geometries and oil reservoir management. Once the data is gathered at Shell's onshore center, it uses Honeywell's software to analyze it, and improve its decisions.
"The cost of developing asset management programs like this is typically high, but it's worth it because these are high-risk applications, and production losses and damage can costs millions of dollars," says Winters. "However, recent advances like cloud services are allowing some applications, such as smaller mines, to put data loggers on their trucks, which can send information to Honeywell's data center for analysis, and send reports back to the our users."
Similarly, Price adds that Infor's software is also migrating onto tablet PCs, smart phones and its Cloud Suite service to help users generate performance models faster. "Mobility gets information and models out into the field, so users can make sense of vertical and micro-vertical situations, and make better decisions on the spot," says Price.