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Asset Lifecycle Management

18 November 2008

Maintaining an obsolete automation system is both costly and a drain on plant efficiency. One common solution is to ignore the problem altogether. While this strategy can bring short-term cost savings and some increased return on investment, overall it exposes users to potentially devastating risks. For example, unexpected failures lead to expensive downtime, rush charges and hasty replacement purchases.

Asset Lifecycle Management
Asset Lifecycle Management

To make matters worse, a user might opt to replace existing functionality only and so miss out on the competitive advantages associated with new technologies and solutions.

Another solution goes to the other extreme. Here, the old system is completely replaced. While this certainly has its advantages, the cost and downtime involved can be prohibitive. In addition, a user can be paying for functionality that is never going to be needed.

In the face of these diverse challenges, a third approach is now emerging. Known as Asset Lifecycle Management (ALM), it leverages the capacity of a user's existing automation while at the same time simplifying integration of new generations of technology.

Invensys Process Systems (IPS) is pioneering ALM oil projects in Kazakhstan. Under an initiative called Performance Advantage, IPS is developing a comprehensive lifecycle management programme for safety and control systems that helps to minimise or eliminate the risks associated with obsolescence and sustain systems in a position where new and emerging solutions can be applied to maximise the overall performance of production assets.

IPS has also addressed the issue of multiple vendor systems being installed in a single plant, a situation that can lead to upgrading difficulties due to a lack of compatibility between them. With ALM, a new element is simply "plugged-in" and is then automatically recognised by the control and automation system. This reduces both downtime and inventory costs.

"The key here is upgrading the obsolete elements of a control system without compromising safety. Employing an effective lifecycle management solution helps preserve intellectual property investments and avoid the risks associated with obsolescence," said Nicholas Pomeroy, manager of IPS Kazakhstan.

IPS also handles ongoing maintenance, both in terms of equipment spares and new software versions. To do this, the company uses its primetime software support package coupled to an annual comprehensive systems check and report. Depending on user requirements, this can include Safety Integration Audits, SIL analyses and other certification programmes.

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