Connect assets to maintenance systems

Sheila Kennedy says industrial networks transform data into actionable information.

By Sheila Kennedy, contributing editor

Connectivity between monitored assets and plant maintenance systems and software improves maintenance efficiency. Enhanced open specifications and individual vendor initiatives are helping to streamline the transformation of raw data into actionable information.

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Evolving specifications

Enhanced open specifications and individual vendor initiatives are helping to streamline the transformation of raw data into actionable information.

Communication protocols need to support multiple network types. A new revision of the HART specification standardizes the Internet protocol (IP) based communication between HART-enabled devices and control systems, asset management systems, and other maintenance-type systems. "Not only has the spec been enhanced to standardize HART communication with remote I/O over HART IP networks, but it also defines and enables complex HART smart devices to connect directly to HART IP networks and communicate large amounts of data to the control system," says Wally Pratt, chief technology officer for the HART Communication Foundation (www.hartcomm.org). "With the enhancement, complex devices like remote I/O, WirelessHART gateways, multiplexers, Coriolis mass flow meters, and on-line gas chromatographs can be connected directly to the control or asset management system via IP." The enhanced specification was approved by the membership in February, and all comments and suggestions are expected to be resolved by summertime.

Fieldbus Foundation’s (www.fieldbus.org) new Foundation for Remote Operations Management (ROM) enables predictive, proactive asset management in remote applications by providing a single framework for control, diagnostics, and data management. “Foundation for ROM supports direct, wireless or wired access to information and diagnostics in devices, and it can also put the information and diagnostics into Foundation fieldbus for data management,” says Larry O’Brien, global marketing manager. “The flexibility and configurability of the Foundation fieldbus user layer provides powerful data management capabilities compared to conventional, RTU-based SCADA systems and PLCs, which tend to require extensive customization for connectivity and data accessibility.” The Foundation for ROM technical specification is currently in the validation phase with demonstration projects in development at Petrobras and Reliance refining, and more sites will be identified soon.

Vendor strategies

Sheila Kennedy is a professional freelance writer specializing in industrial and technical topics.Sheila Kennedy is a professional freelance writer specializing in industrial and technical topics. She established Additive Communications in 2003 to serve software, technology, and service providers in industries such as manufacturing and utilities, and became a contributing editor and Technology Toolbox columnist for Plant Services in 2004. Prior to Additive Communications, she had 11 years of experience implementing industrial information systems. Kennedy earned her B.S. at Purdue University and her MBA at the University of Phoenix. She can be reached at sheila@addcomm.com.

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Systems that automatically and intelligently trigger the generation of work orders in maintenance software save time and costs. “There is a significant uptick of interest in closing the loop between maintenance software and the rest of the plant floor’s software,” says Don Busiek, general manager of manufacturing software at GE (www.ge.com). “Proficy Maintenance Gateway allows plants to be more efficient and makes their data more actionable by synchronizing production and maintenance operations.”

At the basic level, work orders can be triggered by Proficy into EAM systems like SAP and Maximo based on cycle counts, process conditions, or events in real time. Advanced capabilities include predictive modeling, which increases insight into the probability of conditions that are otherwise difficult to measure. “You get more life out of your equipment when there is greater situational awareness, and your payback intensifies,” explains Coleman Easterly, GE’s product manager of manufacturing operations management software. Proficy Maintenance Gateway v2.0 has adapters to Maximo and SAP, among other features.

Honeywell Process Solutions (www.honeywell.com) plans to release Asset Manager R410 in July. The new version will provide seamless integration with SAP and Maximo, as well as a new Fault Model Library. “Our customers need interoperability between their existing products,” says Ron Stallworth, global business manager of asset management. “We develop technologies with open systems to allow interoperability.” For example, real-time corrosion measurements captured by Honeywell’s SmartCET transmitter can be fed directly into distributed control or asset management systems. Using Honeywell’s Predict-RT Real Time corrosion models, parameters can be established that automatically trigger work orders based on corrosion trending thresholds.

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Opto 22 (www.opto22.com) products support multiple communication protocols. “Opto 22’s Snap PAC system isn’t specifically designed for communication with plant maintenance systems, although it supports SNMP, a protocol used in enterprise management systems such as Unicenter and OPC, a widely adopted industrial networking protocol,” says Tom Edwards, senior technical advisor. “Opto 22’s OptoOPCServer software must be running on a Windows PC for third-party OPC clients to communicate with the PAC. If a plant maintenance system does not support OPC communication, it might communicate with the PAC through files written to a network server.”

Real-time data access from mobilized asset management systems also improves productivity. Syclo’s (www.syclo.com) Smart Mobile Suite for Maximo, built on Syclo’s Agentry Mobile Platform, now supports all major devices thanks to the addition of Apple and Android capabilities. Smart Mobile Suite runs natively on major mobile platforms, enabling cross-platform support for diverse devices without needing to maintain separate codes sets.