Advanced automation and insight with Industry 4.0

Information transparency-Part 1

  • 24 Oct, 2017
asset performance dashboard

From our perspective information transparency has two levels, the first is concerned with deriving an improved picture of an asset’s performance based upon existing data and the second is concerned with creating an enhanced picture based upon additional data and analysis. This blog post is concerned with the former whilst a second post will consider the latter.

In 2004 we met a new client (who by the way is still a client today) who described an issue that we have since heard repeated many times, ‘I can’t easily access the data I need to assess the current and historic performance of the asset’. The key terms in this statement we discovered were easily , data and performance .

Our initial contact with the new client was a European Operations Manager responsible for a fleet of remotely-located, unmanned industrial assets. These assets are located at end-user sites and they autonomously deliver a utility under the control of a local PLC and SCADA system.

It was possible (albeit with some difficulty) to remotely connect to the local SCADA system and extract sensor data, via a remote control application. This data then had to be imported into a spreadsheet and processed to select the required data, before the desired picture of performance could be provided. On occasion is was discovered that the desired data had not been retained by the control system.

It was some time however before our contact was able to persuade his colleagues to invest in the development of what became known as an Asset Performance Management (APM) system, partly, at the time, because there was scepticism about the value of such as system, frequently the reply was ‘…but we’ve already got the data in our control system.’

Over a couple of years we helped this client development an APM system that was reliable, cost effective to implement and highly beneficial. As a result of the improved transparency provided by the system the client was able to reduce the cost of operations and maintenance and increase the profitability of the business.

This APM system is still employed today. It provides very easy access to up-to-date, useful information (as opposed to just data) concerning the current, historic and expected performance of an asset and it alerts users when attention is required i.e. it provides information transparency.

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