Effective data management, interpretation improves reliability

In the offshore environment, the life cycle normally begins with a conceptual design or change request and proceeds through engineering, then construction to commissioning/operations, which often includes repair/replacement, until finally it is time to be retired or decommissioned.

Ian Verhappen
Industrial Automation Networks Inc.

In the offshore environment, the life cycle normally begins with a conceptual design or change request and proceeds through engineering, then construction to commissioning/operations, which often includes repair/replacement, until finally it is time to be retired or decommissioned.

Every physical asset in a facility also requires three types of information: design information that is typically recorded on a data sheet; physical asset information describing the device itself, which is normally tracked by the serial number; and the device output, which is the measurement signal often represented by the device tag name. Each of these three aspects of the device will have a different life cycle.

The most commonly considered information type – at least by automation engineers – is the design information commonly documented using ISA20 based data sheets. The information for the data sheets is now commonly stored in databases with the actual "data sheet" as a report or form. Databases work best when data input is uniform or consistent and as a result the preference is to have drop-down menus for as many fields as possible.

German end user group NAMUR (User Association of Automation Technology in Process Industries) started a project called ProList that formed the basis for the work of SC65E WG 2 product properties and classification, which is completing a series of standards to help manage the lift cycle of field devices.

The working group is developing documents (actual databases) that provide a method for standardizing the descriptions of process control devices (measuring equipment) and specifies how to use the device descriptions for electronic data exchange between two computer systems, e.g. one of a customer and one of a supplier, applying properties and lists of properties. The intent is that customers and suppliers will subscribe to a common secure IEC 61987-10 compliant database.

The databases use the predefined fields (list of properties or LOPs) further separated into operating lists of properties (OLOPs) and device lists of properties (DLOPs). OLOPs describe the process related characteristics including the process connection(s) while the DLOPs are used to define the required properties specific to the device such as type of temperature measuring element, fill fluid, or seat material. Eventually, the intent is that this tool will be able to manage additional portions of the product life cycle.

The diagnostic information as well as the physical asset information is normally maintained in an asset management or maintenance management database to track the device itself. Each device is tracked by the supplier to keep records of each product series for reliability and use in different applications as inputs to product improvement opportunities. Each device is tracked by the end user to track total hours service (i.e. pumps, valves) between required maintenance work and reuse in a different application when it returns from repair.

The life cycle for each of the identified databases/assets is different. The data sheet and tag numbers will typically be valid for the time period of the process to which it is connected. If a part of a facility is upgraded, the measurement is still likely to be needed but may change range or even measurement type (i.e. orifice to vortex flow meter) over time. Obviously, over the 20-plus years that a facility operates, several of the field assets will need to be replaced so there are likely to be several versions of this data type affiliated with the related data sheet and tag number. Managing the relationship between the data sheet/specification and physical asset can often be done using something as simple as an effective document management system with a consistent revision control component.

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