big data

Plant Maintenance: Did you Forget About the Data?

Utopia Marketing | March 31, 2020 | 3 min read

I have spent my entire career working in the realm of “Plant Maintenance” systems: from homegrown systems, back in my old programming days, to SAP. The software that almost all major companies across multiple industries use. This I know as I have spent the last 22 years doing more SAP implementations than I can count. In all that time, there has always been one area that has really bugged me, and at times even caused me to upset a few people along the way.  I get on my soapbox and nag, scream (not literally) and jump up and down to call attention to the fact this should be the very first thing any company should start cleaning up. That area is DATA.  I cannot tell you how many times I have had to watch as companies spend millions of dollars on consulting firms to help guide them through all the steps, and there are hundreds of those, to get the “new” system up and running. Yet for some reason, they do not stop to really pay attention to the actual data that gets loaded into it. Especially when it come to the details of the equipment used to produce their product and the materials it takes to keep that equipment running.

So, the purpose of this “rant” of mine is point to out some of the problems that will occur when you start out with BAD data. I will use the Oil and Gas industry as a point of reference. I picked O&G as time has shown that the largest man-made disasters have come from mistakes made somewhere in a plant or out on a rig.  And, for now, I will try to keep my focus on the primary area of MASTER DATA needed to keep these plants running smoothly.

EQUIPMENT master data records can provide almost all the information needed to keep a piece of equipment running smoothly throughout its life cycle.  Information such as Manufacturer and Model #, Serial #, date of purchase and warranty information, location and/or Functional Location, Plant, Accounting assignments, Responsible parties and areas, status, etc. Those just mentioned are just the normal pieces of information you would expect. The following are items that can really enhance the quality of the equipment master as well as the preventive, routine and turn-around maintenance: Links to drawings, Manuf. Specs’, Class and Characteristics, Measurement points, Equipment BOM’s, the list goes on.

The problem I have seen most is that even if all these areas have some data in the fields, a lot is either:

  • Incorrect
  • Not relevant to the equipment that it is supposed to represent
  • Right information, but in the wrong fields
  • Has no structured conformity (All caps in one record, and a mix in another)

The above is just a sampling of the ways in which these EQUIPMENT master records can end up of giving bad info when needed. As well as allowing a lot of duplicate records getting created in the system.

Now, on to some of the problems that can and do occur when the data you are working with is BAD.

  • Multiple Notifications are written against the same piece of equipment. This leads to multiple work orders being written for the exact same piece of equipment BUT, with different equipment records. This can result in extra work and wasted effort as the work could be performed against the same piece of equipment but documented against duplicate pieces of equipment.
  • One of the critical mistakes that come as a result is when these duplicates are all generated out of a PM COMPLIANCE plan. And then the compliance is incorrect and can result in OSHA fines, or worse. A critical piece of equipment is not getting maintained properly and causes a major breakdown in the unit.
  • Extra stock material, as well as non-stock, is pulled to perform the same work, and this would cause the MRP runs for material to exceed the max amount, provided that the Material Master is correct.
  • When warranties are applied to a piece of equipment that has been duplicated in the system it can create confusion with the manufacture as well as make it impossible to track warranty work if the problem is not recognized.
  • If the equipment’s maintenance is based on measurement readings such as MAX run time, Exceeded RPM’s, or temperature readings, and the actual readings are applied to different equipment master records, - let’s say for a “critical” safety valve. Imagine what can happen when that valve is not accurately maintained. This comes close to what I refer to as the “BOOM” factor.

GOOD data is data that has been completely “vetted” before it is loaded. All the equipment master records have a short description that conforms to a standard. Such as ALL CAPs.  All the information is not crammed into a forty-character field. Proper Taxonomy is applied via ISO 14224 in the Class and Characteristics as well as in the Catalog Codes and Code Groups.

When the time is taken upfront to ensure that all the EQUIPMENT follows ISO standards. Correct information is put into the correct fields, the chances of the “BOOM” factor is then reduced to practically zero. Then you are only left with the rare possibility of human error. And I use the word rare because if all the data is correct, such as the Maintenance Plans, Task list, BOM’s, there is really very little room for “human error”.   

The bottom line here is that if companies invest the time upfront to ensure that clean, GOOD data is loaded in the first time. The benefits far outweigh the cost and time spent than if the company must pay out millions of dollars in fines due to non-compliance. The reliability of the equipment is increased many times over. The production lines stay up and running expected, etc. All these things, plus more, will increase profit and the overall cost will be reduced.

Contact us to understand how we can work with you and team, to begin you clean data journey!

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