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Linking Asset and Maintenance Management Systems

March 24, 2004
When It is Time to Link a CMMS to an Asset Management Application, There are a Wealth of Options
Most process plants use computerized maintenance management systems (CMMSs) to record instrument and other asset data, issue work orders and store work order results. CMMS's have been around for decades, and many process plants are quite familiar with their CMMSs and see no reason for replacement.CMMS replacement is usually not needed, but it is often helpful to augment the CMMS with asset management software (AMS). Asset management can include everything from relatively simple software that gathers instrument data to highly sophisticated programs that analyze data, predict failures and direct preventative maintenance.
When it is time to link a CMMS to an asset management application, they are a wealth of options ranging from manual data entry to fully automated data transfers. Although all vendors now strive to provide standard protocols for integration among different software programs, the easiest integration occurs when linking software programs from the same vendor. Second best in terms of ease-of-use, is linking software programs developed under the same framework. Most all CMMS and asset management software run under Windows, but vendors are now creating a layer above Windows called a framework. We reported on frameworks in detail in our Jan. 2003 issue. Some of the products in this category are IndustrialIT from ABB (http://www.abb.com), ArchestrA from Invensys (http://www.invensys.com), and FactoryTalk from Rockwell Automation (http://www.rockwellautomation.com).A framework is a type of development system, and applications and products created with a framework development system will run on standard operating systems layered with framework operating system extensions. Frameworks are designed to provide a common platform for hardware and software development for a vendor's entire product line. Frameworks are also intended to provide a common platform for development of third-party products. If a plant uses a CMMS from Invensys, it can update this CMMS to the latest ArchestrA-compliant version. The plant can then easily integrate other ArchestrA-enabled software programs with the CMMS, even if these programs are not purchased from Invensys.These two scenarios represent the easiest integration schemes, because complexity increases for other scenarios. One of the main sources of integration complexity is articulated by Scott Hokeness, business development manager at Emerson Process Management (http://www.emersonprocess.com). "CMMS systems are generally transaction-based systems, and our AMS Suite of applications (editor's note: and other asset management software programs) are event-based systems," says Hokeness.CMMS transactions are tasks such as "work order generation" and "recording of work order results." Asset management systems must operate in a real-time environment to record data as it is generated. This basic difference often precludes a direct and simple link between CMMS and asset management systems, and often necessitates custom integration effort.System integration services to link CMMS and asset management systems are a natural extension for many of process automation firms. "Although we don't sell a CMMS, we can link information from our AMS suite of applications to drive CMMS work processes," says Hokeness."We typically don't require any special hardware to link to a CMMS because the link is usually through the existing corporate intranet. Protocols can vary, but we usually link via web services with XML data. Some applications simply use a database table as a means of exchanging data. Typically, we link directly and would not use a plant historian as middleware, although this is an option," adds Hokeness.Invensys uses many of the same standards as Emerson. "Our device level management tools as well as our higher level real-time integration and condition monitoring tools use industry standards such as OPC, FDT (field device tool), OAGIS (an XML schema for process control), XML Adapters and Web Services," observes Neil Cooper, director of strategic marketing at Invensys Process Systems."This integration approach lets us deal with a wide range of manufacturers and protocols at the device level, with data access either directly over the plant network or through historians or other databases," says Cooper.GE Fanuc Automation (http://www.gefanuc.com) offers a full range of CMMS and asset management systems under the banner of Enterprise Asset Management (EAM). "Using XML, Extended Web Services enables other enterprise applications"either internally, or at supply chain partners"to leverage the data housed within EAM applications," says Lance Miller, manager of enterprise asset management at GE Fanuc.Rockwell Automation offers consulting and integration services to link asset management systems with CMMS via their own and third-party products. "Our RSMACC-automated asset manager provides a link between a CMMS or EAM system and a factory automation system. Users are not required to integrate separate software packages or do any custom programming," reports Glenn Schulz, the director of global business development, maintenance solutions, at Rockwell Software. Dan Hebert, PE, Senior Technical Editor, [email protected]

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