Data Standards Lead to Project Success
EP Editorial Staff | January 22, 2018
Acquiring and entering asset data into EAM and CMMS systems prior to project start-up will help assure proper equipment performance and extend life cycles.
By Scott Janzen, CMRP, Emerson Automation Solutions
Assets begin to degrade as soon as they are in operation. If the documentation for those assets is lost in a storage room collecting dust, equipment may not receive the level of maintenance that it truly needs. This lack of maintenance is compounded when the enterprise-asset-management systems (EAM) and computerized-maintenance-management software (CMMS) systems aren’t updated during project implementation. Without detailed asset data, maintenance technicians don’t have immediate access to essential information.
As technicians become more and more frustrated with the state of the plant due to their lack of access to vital operations and maintenance (O&M) or Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) sensor data, and as equipment degrades due to improper maintenance and lack of monitoring, assets begin to fail, resulting in plant downtime and increased safety risk.
With today’s sophisticated IIoT environment, we install all types of sensors on our assets for safety, proper operation, or to tell us when maintenance is needed. But those sensors simply just send, in most cases, a 4- to-20-mA signal to the distributed-control system. Without the documentation to turn that signal into an alarm or trendable machine data, it’s just a 4- to-20-mA signal with no real value. For organizations to prepare for IIoT advances, including remote monitoring, cloud analytics, and eventually to move from predictive to prescriptive maintenance, they need clear data-acquisition standards for sensors, devices, and assets that will enable them to capture and then share the data. Preparing for IIoT technologies tomorrow starts with data decisions organizations make today.
Better Data, Better Projects
Failure to expedite and organize data acquisition is not only harmful to future plant operations, but can also increase risk to the execution of current projects. If technical data is not delivered until late in a project, assets cannot be set up until they have arrived on site, putting asset configuration on the critical path and increasing the risk of budget and schedule overruns.
Additionally, the process of generating equipment documentation becomes more costly and cumbersome after a project has been completed. Instead of spending technician hours going through disorganized data delivered after project completion, organizations can save a great deal of money on the documentation process by incorporating a data-acquisition plan into the project scope. As a bonus, properly planned asset-data collection will lead to more accurate and organized plant documentation.
In a best-case scenario, a data-acquisition standard would be developed with the requirements incorporated into the bid specifications. Organizations that embrace a standard in the early stages of project planning will realize four key benefits: extended asset lifecycles, general plant protection, on-time/on-budget project delivery, and plant-personnel engagement.
Extended asset lifecyles
Establishing equipment baselines is key to realizing long asset life. As previously mentioned, assets begin to degrade as soon as they are put into service, so equipment examined six months after installation will not be running the same as it was on the first day. Maintenance teams need to be able to collect an accurate predictive maintenance (PdM) baseline for new equipment so that later readings and examinations can be compared with the as-delivered, or new-asset, readings.
In one example, an organization experienced problems with a series of new mixers they had installed. Maintenance personnel performed motor-circuit-evaluation (MCE) testing on the mixers after they had been in operation for a couple of months and thought that the readings seemed acceptable. The mixers continued to fail and the organization went through multiple replacements.
Eventually, the maintenance team established an MCE baseline on a new replacement unit and determined that the rapid degradation was due to a manufacturer defect. Had they established a baseline before plant startup, the cost of multiple replacement mixers could have been avoided. Unfortunately, since the mixer documentation was delivered after the units were online, by the time the assets were set up in the CMMS and a work order generated to perform the MCE, the damage was already done.
Another factor is how thoroughly and accurately maintenance databases are populated. If equipment documentation is delivered at or near the end of project implementation, the EAM and CMMS will likely not have been populated with the information needed to establish an equipment baseline. It is common for organizations to fill in fields with dummy, or placeholder, information while waiting for accurate specifications to arrive. Frequently, many fields are left blank indefinitely as the company focus shifts to production. Common examples of these fields include serial numbers, model numbers, manufacturer, equipment type, and description.
Once startup occurs, no one has the time to go back and reconcile the EAM and CMMS data with the documentation received at the end of the project. As a result, the maintenance databases are compromised when operations begin and, as data drift takes hold, the databases only get worse. These data issues can have a significant impact on maintenance efficiency.
Not having access to asset data in the CMMS significantly increases the amount of time it takes a maintenance planner to set up a maintenance procedure, order parts, and write work orders. Instead of having the information on hand in the CMMS, the planner will have to make a trip to the asset and hope the data plate is accessible. Depending on the plant or process, this could be a loss of several hours.
When organizations develop a data-acquisition standard and include it as part of the project’s bid specifications, they can ensure that their equipment will be properly configured, tested, and documented to improve asset lifecycles. Best practices to ensure equipment documentation is ready when the project team needs it include:
• document delivery deadlines—ideally before equipment is on-site
• document delivery standards clearly communicated to vendors
• timelines for data entry into EAM and CMMS
• standardized guidelines for data entry in EAM and CMMS.
Protecting the Plant
Having asset data sheets and O&M manuals delivered and organized before a new project goes live means having the tools necessary to protect the plant from a significant number of critical issues. For a maintenance program to function, technicians need to know not only what maintenance is required on each asset, but also the tolerances within which those activities must be performed. Having data available also makes it possible to have IIoT system safety alarms and condition-monitoring programs ready at startup.
Incorporating asset data and maintenance requirements at the outset also has an impact on manufacturer warranties. A warranty is of little value if the organization is not performing the required maintenance steps. Complex devices will require regular checks and replacement of consumables. These functions include:
• filter changes
• oil analysis
• motor-circuit analysis
• backlash checks.
An example of the importance of those functions involves a polymer company that had a new $35,000 gearbox installed as part of new process startup. Three months after startup, the gearbox suffered a major gear failure, requiring complete replacement. The failure also caused a five-day shutdown of the new process that was generating $50,000/day in revenue.
The asset data and manuals for the new process had been turned over only a month before the failure and had not been entered in the CMMS. Because the maintenance team did not have the operation and maintenance manuals at startup, they did not know there were critical backlash checks that needed to be performed before and just after startup that would have prevented the failure. Because the checks were not completed, the gearbox manufacturer would not cover the cost of the replacement. The company lost not only the $50,000/day revenue, but also the cost of the gearbox replacement and expedited delivery fees.
For organizations that operate within strict environmental and safety constraints, equipment incidents can be costly to more than just the budget. Environmental or safety incidents can have a lasting impact on a company’s reputation. When reputation and safety are on the line, maintenance strategies must be planned before an incident. Without adequate, accurate data, such a plan will be particularly difficult to implement.
This is illustrated by a wastewater-treatment-plant capital-improvement project (CIP) that involved installing new chlorine peristaltic metering pumps. At startup the pumps still had “Warning: Insure Pump Tube is Compatible with the Fluid Being Pumped” safety tags hanging on them. The O&M manuals had not been turned over with the list of compatible pump tubes, so operations personnel assumed the correct tubes were installed.
During the third night of operation, one of the pump tubes failed and caused the pump casing to crack. Chlorine leaked out and filled the containment area, destroying equipment worth several thousand dollars and causing an expensive hazardous-material cleanup. These fees were relatively low compared with the fine the plant had to pay for dumping improperly treated water into a stream for two weeks until the process could be restarted. The follow-up investigation found that the installed pump tubes were not compatible with chlorine.
The blessing of new equipment at any plant can quickly turn into a curse if that equipment isn’t properly managed and maintained. It is easy to assume that a maintenance plan will fall into place after a project is completed, but the reality is that many maintenance strategies never get off the ground from lack of data and resources for the assets that need to be maintained. Starting a maintenance program properly means allocating time and resources to effectively and accurately document asset specifications. To accomplish that, organizations need to have a data standard in place.
On Time, On Budget
Many organizations focus nearly of all their energy on getting equipment installed and meeting startup dates. Ensuring that equipment will run properly is typically not a concern until after project completion. These organizations miss out on key strategies to ensure a smooth startup and project success by not incorporating a plan for data collection into project-bid specifications.
When asset data is delivered well before equipment arrives, not only can plants have a comprehensive maintenance plan in place, they can also ensure the plant’s ability to adequately plan for a smooth, successful startup. Many of today’s lubricated assets require a specific lubricant and additional oil changes during their initial startup. Oil, air, and process filters may need to be changed more frequently during the earliest stages. Not having the necessary maintenance items available can cause major delays and result in high expediting costs.
However, if contractors aren’t delivering technical data on a schedule, or, worse, if technical data is delivered at the end of the project, none of this planning is possible.
Putting Personnel in Control
In most projects, the implementation team simply receives any technical data when and how the project contractors decide to deliver it. Establishing guidelines ensures that the organization will receive data in a format that is compatible with its document-management software, allowing easy organization and use.
Documents that once were buried or lost will now be clearly organized and indexed for quick searches and easy import into EAM and CMMS, as well as other software.
Moreover, sites can ensure that all plant stakeholders have input into document delivery. Document-management champions can quickly and easily direct documentation to the people who need it most:
• interested in operations sections of maintenance manuals
• may need other specification sheets depending on processes
Maintenance personnel need:
• technical specifications on gearing information and vibration, temperature, and pressure thresholds
• specific motor data
Instrumentation techs need:
• data sheets
• calibration of equipment as delivered.
If only one person is determining what documentation is needed (especially if that person is outside of the organization), much of the necessary content from collected documentation will likely be missed. Organizations that set up a site champion and customize data-acquisition standards with the guidelines for individual departments should see a dramatic increase in efficiency of maintenance and operations.
Project-implementation teams that consider what data they need to collect, and how to best collect it can successfully implement a reliability program that will extend the lifecycles of critical equipment. In addition, these organizations will see direct savings, during and after project implementation, as good choices enable lower overall costs and less rework, and the setting up of an effective maintenance plan. When organizations see data acquisition as a critical element of project success, they build for success—now and in the future. EP
Scott Janzen, CMRP, is a reliability consultant at Emerson Automation Solutions, Houston. He has more than 35 years of reliability and automation experience including 20 years in the U.S. Navy. Janzen worked previously with Management Resources Group (MRG) before it was acquired by Emerson in 2014.