Normally, during a project involving the building and installing new facilities, many vendors are consulted to provide all the required equipment and devices. In some types of projects, the company supplying the control system may also be responsible for providing all the instrumentation.
In some scenarios, however, engineering companies are responsible for designing the automation technology. They, of course, try to find the best offering on the market that fulfills the technical specification at the best possible price.
In both cases, the project is delivered with all technical documentation about the devices utilized as well as also a list of suggestions for spare parts created by the vendor of each device.
It goes without saying that in a project where many different brands are used, the complexity of this documentation, the spare parts and their management is higher than usual.
In addition, in most projects the associated documentation is still handed over as paper or PDF files – and that’s it. Companies offering a solution to manage all this documentation after hand-over are unfortunately still in a minority.
After the startup of the plant
Later, after the startup is complete and the plant is in full operation, the maintenance team must take care of the devices. In theory, they received basic training on how to handle most of the devices in the plant, however, in most cases the team needs to learn by itself how to manage them all.
The greater the variety of devices, the more complex this becomes and the more it impedes daily maintenance activities.
Practically every vendor has a different philosophy on how to configure, troubleshoot and navigate through the parameters, forcing the team to spend more time on each individual task.
Furthermore, having a variety of devices also means having a variety of associated spare parts, increasing the cost of stock-keeping and spare part management. What often happens later, after a couple of repairs, replacements of equipment or changes in vendor, is that it becomes increasing difficult to maintain an overview of each type, model and brand of device installed in the plant.
New process extensions
When a plant is extended, the type of solution chosen may be completely different from that of the original project. This means that devices and equipment will not follow existing standards for brands and technology, adding more complexity to daily tasks.
All these factors affect the efficiency of maintenance and plant management. This results in more time being spent on a simple verification or troubleshooting of an individual device. Furthermore, it forces the company to have more spare parts in stock, causing the associated costs to spiral. It also becomes difficult to decide which spare parts have first priority.
The engineering team also needs to have more documents for each device and the technical team in the field needs to have even more know-how on how to handle everything.
The fact is that most facilities, no matter what industry, have an installed base with assets of varying types and brands. As we saw, this scenario creates a broad range of challenges and increased complexity for process operation, directly impacting the degree of efficiency required to keep the plant running.
Thanks to digitalization, however, we have today digital solutions that not only improve efficiency, but also decrease the complexity of installed base management. Such a digital solution can also provide an overview of the field devices and speed up the standardization of equipment.
4 reasons for the standardization of equipment
The standardization of equipment in your plant will bring a lot of benefits, for instance, saving time during field activities because of the reduction of its complexity and saving money because it is no longer necessary to have a large variety of spare parts in stock.
Nowadays, it’s simple to collect information about the devices installed in the field. This collecting ensures that you have better control of the installed base and makes your plant transparent by providing an overview of all the equipment installed. On top of this, all this data can be accessed through a secure environment no matter where you are.
Nevertheless, before we talk about how to make your plant transparent and have access wherever you want to, let’s take a look at 4 benefits of the standardization of equipment.
Rationalization or reduction of spare parts and equipment
As we could see, depending on the project, a new plant can start with a vast diversity of devices or over the years this diversity increases after changes made due to maintenance and extension.
As time goes by these changes, which are to be found in every plant, have a significant impact on the complexity of managing the installed base, which in turn has a direct effect on the costs of maintenance and spare part management.
On the other hand, if you strive to standardize the devices in your plant, maintenance and spare part management become much easier. The reason for this is simple; you need fewer spare parts; for instance, a single display type could be fitted to several different devices. Moreover, with less diversity in the field, your company saves even more money by reducing spare part stock levels.
Reduction of installed complexity
In a plant with a broad range of technologies and brands, the technical team is forced to have more knowledge on how to handle the devices. However, because of the complexity of such equipment, it is unlikely that the technical team has in-depth expertise on every single device.
With the standardization of equipment, there is less diversity of devices and the technical team has to maintain fewer product types. This scenario requires far less effort to get to know the devices and reduces the complexity of keeping the plant operating.
Less supporting documentation to manage
Less diversity of devices in the field translates to less documentation and results in the simplification of its management.
Minimization of the necessary know-how to maintain and repair devices
As mentioned previously, when we have fewer device types in the plant, the technical team doesn’t need to have extensive knowledge to keep the plant running. When a device requires an intervention, such as check of diagnostics, repair or adjustment, the technician will be more familiar with it because of the lower diversity of models and brands.
This directly affects the time spent per device as well as the knowledge required to make an in-depth analysis of any problem during the operation. In addition, it reduces the necessity to hire an expert to solve a complex problem with a device.
How to organize your assets and create a more transparent plant
Digitalization is helping to find simple ways to integrate all data originating in the field and to view it from wherever you are. For instance, the digital service Netilion Analytics will help you to register, organize and connect all devices in a straightforward digital platform. It gives you a clear overview of your plant and will reveal the potential for improving your installed base.
The registration can be done manually by entering key information such as serial number, name or optionally taking a picture: now you have a digital twin of your asset. Alternatively, it can be done automatically with the help of an edge device. The edge device is responsible for creating a list of the assets and registering them automatically into your Netilion Analytics account, saving time.
In addition, you have access to valuable information through the “insights” page, which brings clarity and transparency with powerful data analysis and graphs. Last but not least, Netilion Analytics brings a vast range of advantages, such as reduction in complexity and maintenance effort, creates a transparent overview on what equipment is currently installed, works in a secure environment and allows you to access to all this information no matter what time of day or wherever you are.
To sum up, a digital service like Netilion Analytics helps you take your first steps into the digitalized world, giving you transparent information about all your assets in the field, easing the standardization of your plant.