Modern-day advanced visualization tools provide intuitive navigation, actionable information and intelligence in real-time by exploiting the performance, operational and transactional data of the enterprise. The screenshot show here provides a quick reference to determine the optimization level of assets, with the blue blocks showing a high level of asset optimization and the red blocks showing a low level of optimization. Image courtesy of Invensys Operations Management.

With the continued evolution of intelligent instruments and digital communication, process data in most plant environments has moved from the logbook to the control panel. At the same time, the drive toward smaller and faster microprocessors has enabled a boom in the amount of data that can be captured on any given fluid handling process variable. Armed with this preponderance of information, end-users have an opportunity for more effective asset management; but to fully capitalize, a strategic approach is required.

“In the last decade, sensors and actuators have become microprocessor-based, and standards to communicate with these assets via fieldbus protocols have developed,” says Isauro Martinez-Cairo, director of asset performance at Invensys Operations Management. “Hence, Instrument Asset Management (IAM), which addresses lifecycle management of smart sensors and actuators, including the machinery controlled by the smart actuator, has become a hot area for plant investment.”

Business Drivers
Business drivers for fluid handling asset management can be segmented into four main categories:
1. Workforce enablement, including knowledge transfer, managing the aging workforce, workforce effectiveness, and actionable business intelligence;
2. Improved profitability, including improving uptime and availability, energy monitoring and reduction, extending asset life, and cost control for labor and parts;
3. Safety and risk management, including maintaining a safe work environment and risk-based asset management; and
4. Corporate social responsibility, including carbon footprint and emissions control, and ensuring regulatory compliance.

In its current form, effective asset management translates into condition monitoring and management and predictive capabilities that are designed to turn large amounts of production data into actionable asset intelligence in real-time for informed process decision-making. Martinez-Cairo says the key benefits of asset management along this line include increased operational safety, optimized costs of maintenance, improved sustainability of operations, lower energy consumption, and reduced variance in the response of the maintenance personnel.

Leveraging the Data
Making sense of the large amounts of asset data available in plant environments today can be a cumbersome process. According to Martinez-Cairo, the most common pitfall end-users encounter when developing an asset management strategy is a failure to properly define the business process. By fully understanding and articulating the goal of the process, the end-user can then tailor the asset management strategy to efficiently achieve that goal within the framework of the niche expertise available in the plant.

Wireless technology can be a key enabler for effective asset management. “Mobility is a key component of a complete solution for connecting all of your wired and stranded assets, enabling broad visibility into the performance of your assets,” says Martinez-Cairo. “This asset-centric approach to wireless makes tracking asset performance straightforward.”
According to Martinez-Cairo, key benefits of wireless include improved operational discipline and reliability, improved safety and compliance, increased workforce productivity, higher asset availability, and improved process visibility.
“Automated asset management is most successful when implemented as part of a strategic plan that maps to the highest-level business drivers of the plant, such that asset availability and utilization are optimized in concert with the overall business performance of the plant,” says Martinez-Cairo.

The Future
Going forward, Martinez-Cairo says end-users can look forward to improvements in asset management systems in regard to performance analysis, enterprise workflow management, and asset optimization. He defines each of these segments as follows:
1. Performance analysis is an effort to capture knowledge, rules, best practices, and provide intuitive tools that enable visualization and discovery of actionable information and intelligence in real-time by exploiting performance, operational, and transactional data of the enterprise.
2. Enterprise workflow provides the ability to create enterprise and horizontal workflow solutions to address business challenges. This enables customers to improve business performance and reduce costs within and across functional business units while maximizing their investments in current and future IT infrastructure.
3. Asset optimization is a consultative effort to provide solutions for simulation and forecasting asset effectiveness, asset lifecycle, utilization and replacement, taking into consideration financial and real-time data used in opportunity cost analysis. Providing the economic picture is an aid to better decision-making.

Matt Migliore is the editor in chief of Flow Control magazine. He can be reached at Matt@GrandViewMedia.com.