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Achieving effective monitoring of assets

Jul 07, 2019
4 min read
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By: Rana Rehman, MEA Plantweb Specialist, Emerson Automation Solutions

Efficient operation of essential assets is key in achieving productivity and operational targets. Facilities, manufacturers, operators, and producers can move forward in planning for their output by having smoothly functioning assets.

Every industrial facility (either discreet or process) comprises of around 5 per cent critical assets such as generators, turbines, compressors, and more. These critical assets are nearly always installed with online protection systems, and in most cases, with online prediction systems as well. This equips operators and maintenance personnel with tools that inform them of their asset status round the clock, throughout the year.

Around 25-30 per cent of the assets – amounting to hundreds – such as pumps, heat exchangers, non-critical compressors, and more are classified as essential assets. Failure of these assets can impact the Plant Throughput significantly.  These assets are usually not instrumented for real time monitoring.  Current industry practices in maintaining such assets are based on weekly, monthly, or quarterly preventive maintenance rounds, as well as predictive maintenance processes done through portable handheld vibration analysers based on assets classifications. Without online monitoring, these assets are often subjected to reactive maintenance activities and consequently unexpected down time and higher maintenance cost.

Costly repairs without prior notice of failure

“It costs approximately 50 per cent more to repair a failed asset than if the problem had been addressed prior to failure,” according to the U.S. National Response Center.

Studies from InTech 2012 show that 70 per cent of most maintenance budgets are reserved for essential assets, while 3.5 per cent of unplanned shutdowns or slowdowns are caused by the breakdown of essential assets.

Take for example the role of an operator tasked to monitor and prevent the breakdown of his pump. Once the pump he is operating start to show signs of degradation, the operator has the skills and the experience to determine that there is a challenge with the pump that needs to be fixed. However, most operators lack the ability to identify the right person who can repair the asset. The next logical step for the operator is to contact operations, maintenance, and reliability teams stationed on the field. Now, time becomes a critical component to the maintenance process as the teams try to manually identify what needs to be fixed for the asset and have the repair executed.

Improving reliability with essential asset monitoring

Considering these factors and risks with essential assets, Emerson has been providing solutions to aid organisations and businesses in maintaining not only their critical assets, but the whole project and operation processes to start with. Through the methodologies of Operational Certainty and Project Certainty, Emerson equips industrial organisations with proven approaches of Top Quartile performers.

Project Certainty is a proven approach to achieving performance goals to move strategic engineering decisions into the earliest project stages. Operational Certainty, on the other hand, is a methodology that helps organisations pinpoint the causes of poor performance, enabling them to prioritise actions that can yield the greatest improvement and establish a scalable work plan.
With the advent of Industrial IoT solutions, Emerson provides practical technologies that also deliver visibility to operations, maintenance, and reliability teams for essential assets. These innovations provide data coverage through instrumentation (through the use of WiHart technology) and also through the broad range of analytics software and platforms included in Emerson’s Plantweb portfolio. Through Emerson’s Plantweb digital ecosystem, organisations can transform operations with measurable improvements in reliability, safety, energy management, and overall operations.

The next step of Emerson’s IIoT solutions involves relaying the health analytics of your essential assets to the relevant person in the time required through the Plantweb Optics platform. Relevant operators can access the critical data through desktop tablets and smartphones, with a connection to the CMMS system for work order generation.

These IIoT applications provide support for essential assets and effective monitoring for plant teams through the optimisation of work routines, and prioritisation of activities that are no longer time-based but now condition-based. Operators can now be informed in advance when an issue with an asset is discovered. With reduced reactive maintenance, plant operations can now enjoy machinery uptime, enhanced production, reduction in unnecessary inventory, better safety implementation.

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