Focus on Critical Assets Pays Off

Program avoids costly downtime and enhances planned shutdowns.

By Joel Holmes, Monsanto

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Asset prioritization enables us to focus our attention on Type A critical devices, especially when they trigger an alert. Just as a football team must protect its star quarterback to keep him in the game, we must provide special protection for our key assets to keep them productive and prevent costly process downtime.

With hundreds or thousands of devices in a unit continually reporting on their own health via numerous diagnostic status conditions, process operators can be overwhelmed by warnings and alarms. Which ones are most important and need to be investigated? In plants without a method of prioritizing this information, maintenance personnel are called upon to make a lot of fruitless trips to the field. We try to avoid wasting valuable technician time by filtering the status alerts to identify those coming from the most critical devices, leaving less significant issues to be investigated on a lower priority by our maintenance technicians.

We previously used an alert messenger application with Emerson's AMS Suite: Intelligent Device Manager predictive maintenance software for that purpose. But we are now examining use of AMS Alert Track Snap-On customizable software that filters status alerts and routes predefined critical items directly to a customizable list of recipients such as maintenance planners and schedulers. This tool efficiently removes the task of electrical personnel examining the list of numerous alerts and notifies appropriate decision makers immediately via e-mail and mobile devices.

Getting Started
The GT Unit acquired its AMS Device Manager application from another Monsanto facility. One of the initial challenges was getting the E/I technicians to buy into the new system. I, too, was skeptical at first and had to prove to myself that the AMS Device Manager application could save money and maintenance time by preventing unexpected downtime. Many process engineers viewed it as another "toy" — until it revealed some critical control valve travel deviation issues and identified one severely bent valve stem. These are conditions that operators can't determine by simply looking at or listening to a control valve but that can lead to big trouble. That started to open some eyes.

Then, the alert monitor exposed a drive gain issue that indicated sensor tube pluggage on a Type A critical mass flow meter measuring catalyst slurry; at the time production personnel were unaware of any potential blockage issues or inaccurate measurements. If this problem were to have gone unrecognized, the potential financial impact on the process could amount to as much as $25,000 per hour.

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