Archive | Asset Management


8:43 pm
July 28, 2016
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Empowered Maintenance Techs, IIoT and Virtualization

My first B2B media job primarily covered factory applications, namely packaging automation factories in the early aughts, and it showed me a range of sophistication in the discrete space. I witnessed a high-end dairy beverage producer and its in-line molding and filling machines — Krones Inc. — or smaller just-in-time operations, such as bag filling machines.

However, process automation has become a big part of my editorial coverage and I recently wrote about how oil and gas companies are using more automation in the field to reduce maintenance operations  — 160728fieldworkRemote Processing Helps Shale Producers Find Profits. This article uncovers a new monitoring and control solution for capturing flare gas and reselling it.

It’s called a mobile gas processing unit— Mobile Alkane Gas Separator (MAGS)— but the platform is monitored and controlled from a remote location, some 200 to 300 miles away. Pioneer Energy relies on a roving army of technicians with operation and maintenance skills to service wellsites, while using smartphones and tablet to link into the platform.

Related is a recent post at Microsoft’s blog page that discusses the “empowerment of the field worker’ and quote ARC’s Ralph Rio. Rio discusses maintenance tech workers ability to do more sensing in the field, below:

“Mobile devices and state of the art software solutions have vastly improved the lives of field teams,” explains Ralph Rio, vice president at ARC Advisory Group. “Today’s leading field service workers are much more efficient and can quickly respond to faults through access to real-time data and line of business applications. They have a fully-digitized job list with the ability to report the status of a job, even if they’re out of network range.

Rio also discusses virtualization in the blog post and how this could alter the landscape. I’m not there yet with virtualization in the field, with oil and gas prices leveling off, demand low and products not fully realized.

Read Blog Post Here >>


1601Iot_logo>> For more IIoT coverage in maintenance and operations, click here! 


9:30 am
June 30, 2016
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Vibration Monitoring Keeps Aviation Fuel Flowing

Wireless solution increases reliability, safety, and efficiency within a critical transportation operation.

Busy airports require a dependable fuel supply. In this situation, wireless vibration monitoring makes it possible for a fuel-supply company to achieve reliability goals and keep planes in the air.

Busy airports require a dependable fuel supply. In this situation, wireless vibration monitoring makes it possible for a fuel-supply company to achieve reliability goals and keep planes in the air.

At busy airports around the world, the ability to provide a constant, reliable supply of aviation fuel is key. For one major international airport, this responsibility falls to a single fuel-services provider. It stores all aviation fuel transferred to the airport and is the facility’s only fuel-receiving terminal.

Because fuel services are so crucial, the organization’s primary goal is to ensure that the operation stays up and running 24/7/365. At the same time, the plant needs to operate as an efficient business, meaning it is essential to run with minimum manpower.

A case in point

In 2015, the fuel-services company decided to expand and improve its automation system. This move would increase safety, reduce downtime, and free-up time for operators and engineers to focus on other mission-critical tasks. The organization found a solution in Emerson’s AMS asset-management software, coupled with the manufacturer’s CSI 9420 wireless vibration transmitter, both produced by Emerson Process Management, Austin, TX (

The facility manages four fuel-transfer pumps—two of which are running at any given time. Their location and function makes these units notoriously difficult to monitor. Also, due to the heavy workload and ambient temperatures that can exceed 100 F, the pump bearings frequently fail.

Ensuring a steady fuel supply is a primary objective for the world’s busy airports. Automation is helping one aviation-fuel services provider do just that while creating a safe, efficient maintenance environment within its operations.

Ensuring a steady fuel supply is a primary objective for the world’s busy airports. Automation is helping one aviation-fuel services provider do just that while creating a safe, efficient maintenance environment within its operations.

Operators needed a solution that collected more information without increasing the cost or man hours. The solution was wireless vibration monitors, which, in turn, have helped create a safe, efficient maintenance environment.


Although the fuel-service pumps had been monitored for many years, the costs and complexity of running cabling made continuous monitoring out of the question. Before implementing wireless vibration monitors, the plant had to monitor the pumping system through motor and bearing temperature profiles and the intermittent use of handheld vibration monitors. This process presented several problems.

Operators were only able to record intermittent vibration values for the pumps, making it difficult to see true trending. The effort required significant time and did not provide constant monitoring. In the case of an intermittent impact or similar event, it was possible for operators to miss important data.

Wireless monitors offer plants the reliability of continuous monitoring without the added expense of miles of cabling.

Wireless monitors offer plants the reliability of continuous monitoring without the added expense of miles of cabling.

Collected vibration data were entered into a complicated spreadsheet. The problem with such an approach is that even the most robust spreadsheet has significant limitations in its ability to track trends and processes—and provides no predictive-maintenance data whatsoever. Furthermore, while detecting mechanical problems was relatively easy, it was much harder to detect problems that came from process mistakes. That’s because the spreadsheet couldn’t provide an accurate timeline for comparison.

Although personnel could react to events they saw happening, there was little data to show what exactly was going on—which, ultimately, led to the need for more operator and engineer hours to evaluate detected problems and determine a solution. The commitment to operating with a limited staff made it essential that the company reclaim these man hours as quickly as possible.

Problems solved

Implementing wireless vibration monitors, along with a predictive-maintenance software application, dramatically changed this fuel-service provider’s processes. Having pump vibration constantly monitored means that the organization can feel confident personnel will quickly be made aware of any change in function.

In short, operators know that a bearing is heading for failure long before the problem results in process upset. This type of predictive-maintenance capability is vital, as servicing a pump means taking it offline for approximately two months to have it repaired by the manufacturer.

Because the fuel-service facility can’t afford any downtime, the ability to predict pump problems provides peace of mind by allowing personnel to schedule maintenance, not act out of desperation.

Wireless pump monitoring has also increased operator safety. With remote capture of vibration readings, plant personnel have less contact with running machinery than they did when manually recording vibration values. Less contact with the running machines translates to fewer opportunities for accidents that might result in injury.

Moving from recording machine-health data on a spreadsheet to the automatic recording of those data in an asset-management application has been one of the most significant improvements in the operation’s processes.

The asset-management software allows the organization to observe trends in equipment health that simply could not be tracked through a spreadsheet. Alarms are now raised with any abnormal situation and operators are equipped with the tools they need to make decisions quickly. MT

Payoff From Understanding What Could Happen

Managing equipment through an asset-management application allows an organization to better understand what is happening and what could happen on the plant floor. In the case of the aviation-fuel-services company, having vibration and temperature data continuously tracked, stored, and analyzed in the asset-management software lets the plant’s operations and maintenance teams build a timeline around events. This ability is particularly important when a change in process is the catalyst for hardware failures.

Because the software can show exactly when a problem arises, the plant can compare the data with maintenance logs to see if a process change occurred at the same time. In turn, management can rest easy regarding deployed process changes, i.e., know that, regardless of how seemingly insignificant, such changes will always pose a low risk to operations.

On the plant floor, engineers see the most benefit from the plant-wide automation-system enhancement, as they can now spend their time on operational matters instead of pouring over spreadsheets, tracking temperature and vibration data for maintenance. The front-end operators are also relieved that they have reduced their equipment checking time.

Wireless vibration monitors provide the fuel-services people with the flexibility to move toward a holistic machinery-health-management plan. Plant management can feel confident that detailed pump health information is always available and no unexpected shutdowns are lurking around the corner. Management also gains peace of mind that safety is improved, as maintenance teams have fewer reasons to be working around dangerous equipment.

For more information, visit Emerson Process Management at


9:19 pm
June 20, 2016
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White Paper | How To Design an Industrial Internet Architecture

Source: Industrial Internet Consortium

Source: Industrial Internet Consortium


Interoperability has been the “mantra” in manufacturing for some time, but management needs more resources for fully-realized IIoT. The industrial internet depends on interoperability and that’s why this reference paper on industrial architecture can be a valued asset in developing plant or process manufacturing strategies. The Industrial Internet Consortium recently released this Industrial Internet Reference Architecture white paper and it provides multiple points-of-view for the enterprise: connectivity, functional, implementation, safety, communication security, data distribution, secure storage and integrations best practices.

Chapter 13 discusses edge networking principles and recommends a blueprint for data reduction techniques, along with other best practices with storage. Contributors include a who’s who of technology and manufacturer suppliers, such as ABB, GE, SAP, IBM, RTI, Fujitsu, Intel, Micron, and AT&T, to name a few.

Download the White Paper >>


10:46 pm
June 6, 2016
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Chemical | Remote IIoT Application with a Twist

This IIoT turnkey service solution works outside of the plant's control system. (Source: Emerson Process Management)

This IIoT turnkey service solution works outside of the plant’s control system. (Source: Emerson Process Management)

In general, oil and gas companies are beginning to divulge information about more sensing and cloud solutions in the U.S. This dispatch from Bob Gill at ARC Advisory Group documents a chemical case application from Denka that relies on a 3rd party turnkey monitoring solution for the company’s steam traps.

This asset management success story employs a IIoT system that’s completely outside of the plant’s control architecture. The twist, if you will.

More context frm ARC:

As in most process facilities, Denka’s approach to monitoring of steam traps at its Styrenic Resins Plant was previously very manual, based largely on an annual inspection by a contractor. This conventional approach means it is inevitable that any failed steam traps will go unnoticed for a long time and contribute to wasted steam and wasted money. Indeed, Denka’s last yearly manual survey earlier in 2015 revealed 35 out of 210 steam traps (17 percent) as failed.

Being outside of the control system also helps alleviate HUGE security concerns with this IIoT solution:

Firstly, it has no involvement with or connection to the plant control system (DCS). This alleviates common concerns of process-industry owner operators of interference with a live and running DCS and, in terms of security, DCS data potentially leaving the plant.

Emerson Process Management provides this maintenance/asset management monitoring service. The IIoT case application train is getting full.

Learn More about the IIoT Service Solution >>


4:41 pm
June 3, 2016
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White Paper | Pump Monitoring and What’s New with API Standard 682

160603ep_transmitterThis white paper from Emerson Process Management, released in July 2015, delves into the ramifications of the API 682 standard for pump sealing systems in the oil and gas and chemical industries. The standard provides new roadmaps for operations and maintenance (O&P) teams on how to move towards continuous monitoring of pump systems.

This paper examines asset management strategies, along with IIoT foundation solutions, as seen below from this except:

According to API Standard 682 Fourth Edition, offshore platforms, onshore wellheads, refineries, and petrochemical plants need to evaluate what pump monitoring measurements are in place, which measurements require manual field checks, and which should be automated or upgraded to a better option.

Due to the costs associated with monitoring the process using wired instruments, only a small percentage of a typical process facility’s pumps are monitored online. The balance of pumps are inspected only periodically by operations or maintenance personnel on field rounds.

Read the white paper >>


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>> Find more Industrial Internet of Things coverage at


4:11 pm
May 31, 2016
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Video | Legacy Equipment Adopts IIoT Solution


Maclean-Fogg implemented an OPC client server solution with MQTT, which allows for ERP clients to subscribe to machine data. (Source: KEPServerEX Version 5.19 Release Webinar)


Last week’s legacy equipment post discussed recent big picture thoughts on IIoT. But, how does legacy equipment and older communication architectures begin to implement IIoT strategies? U.S-based manufacturer Maclean-Fogg took the plunge recently and relied on Kepware’s KEPServerEX 5.19 OPC-based solution to automate their data collection for its shop floor machines. The U.S. based manufacturer of machine components needed quicker access to machine downtime and defect rate data for their Enterprise Resource Planning solution.

This short video (see link) below details the Maclean-Fogg’s architecture and how its current machines — with no changes to production — were able to communicate to the company’s Microsoft BizTalk client and then to its ERP software.

Watch Case Study Here >>


10:30 pm
May 17, 2016
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Podcast | Which Industries are Ripe for IIoT Adoption?

>> For more great IIoT Content, visit and bookmark

Excerpts from the podcast:

Rio: Recently I wrote a case story about a company with 50 oil rigs, and part of the process of extracting oil and gas out of the ground involves cleaning the gas so it can be sold. This cleaning of the gas involves a compressor. What happens is the hydrocarbons in the dirty gas will accumulate on the compressor blades and eventually cause an unplanned failure. In the case of BHP Billiton, they implemented an IOT solution that involved extracting data from the sensors on the compressor, putting it into a cloud applications, applying some analytics on top of that, and then they could use that to predict failure, they could predict it out as much as six months.

Rio: The OEM’s provide these asset-monitoring services. What’s essentially happening is the maintenance of the equipment being outsourced, or some portion of the maintenance is being outsourced to the OEM. This of course starts to make sense with the more complicated pieces of equipment at least initially, and broader later on. This is opening new opportunities for maintenance departments to do a better job of providing high up-time with the equipment.


8:59 pm
April 27, 2016
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Google Glass Lives!

UBiMAX's Gerhard Pluppins models his wearable eyeware unit.

UBiMAX’s Gerhard Pluppins models his wearable eyeware unit.

In January 2015, Google announced that they were going to cease offering the Google Glass product to consumers. As far as the popular press and casual observers, like me, were concerned, at best it would be some time before we would see the technology on “store shelves” again. At the time, I was convinced that the technology was too important to simply die, but the negative geek factor that surrounded the product meant that the consumer version was/is going to have to come back in a very different form.

Today, at Hannover MESSE, I learned that Google Glass didn’t die in January 2015. In fact, in the industrial world, the technology is thriving quite nicely, thank you.

I acquired this knowledge when I visited the UBiMAX GmbH booth and met with GErhard Pluppins and CEO Dr. Hendrik Witt. UBiMAX is located in Bremen, Germany and can be found at I stopped at the booth only because Gerhard, wearing a smart eyeware unit (that’s what they’re called now), said hi as I was walking by. I immediately stopped because the question that popped into my head was, What are those things doing at a show of this magnitude? They should be on a shelf collecting dust.

Turns out that UBiMAX, which is one of ten Google Glass certified partners, has been cooking along quite vigorously, developing smart eyeware software for a variety of business applications and, according to them, the implementation has a good head of steam. Dr. Witt says they expect to see the market explode in 2017.

UbiMAX offers three “solutions” at this juncture.

XPick is a “pick-by-vision” order-picking solution that supports manual order picking; incoming, outgoing, and sorting of goods; and inventory management.

XMake is a “make-by-vision” solution for manufacturing, assembly-line support, and quality assurance.

The third solution is the one that stood out for me. XInspect is an inspect-by-vision solution that targets all types of service and maintenance processes in just about any industry. Gerhard Pluppins and I talked at some length about the many possibilities this technology offers to reliability and maintenance professionals. The strength is that it’s two-way technology. If you’re dealing with a problem in a plant, you can receive information over the network, such as repair procedures, equipment performance history, and and parts information. In other words, you can see in your eyepiece just about any information that is available in the network pertaining to that asset.

But the best part is that you can also transmit new information back to the network. That can be in the form of an audio file, photos, and, I would speculate, limited text information. Also integrated into the software are Internet of Things tie-ins that can take this technology to a higher level in terms of data handling and transmission.

I got to wear Gerhard’s smart eyeware unit. I was surprised at how unit’s apparent durability. They always look so flimsy to me. I also expected it to feel clunky on my head, particularly over my eyeglass. Not so, and I had no trouble at all adjusting the heads-up display so I could see it clearly.

He had what looked like a pump diagram displaying in the eyepiece. I was absolutely stunned at the clarity, apparent size of the image, and how easy it was to implement the on-screen information. I expected to have to strain to see any detail, but it was right there, large enough to be of use and clear as a bell. At no time did I feel that the display was obstructing my vision and could be a safety problem.

I’ll probably never have a need for one of these things but will now be keeping a close eye 😉 on this technology because I think it can be a difference maker for reliability and maintenance professionals.–Gary L. Parr, editorial director