Asset management software provides safety, security, grease
Security, safety add-ons
A manufacturer recently lost more than $100,000 in downtime-related costs after an unknown individual made a timing change in an automated grease system. A timer that previously injected grease every 20 minutes was modified to inject grease every eight hours. The resulting mechanical wear required a premature machine rebuild.
Hundreds of assets on any plant floor are valuable enough to insure: employees, machines, tools. But what about the unseen valuables? What about intellectual property? Thousands of hours were spent developing IT applications, automation systems, processes and procedures that help manage the company and garner a competitive advantage. Yet, this valuable body of knowledge often goes largely unprotected.
Asset management software would have improved security with user privileges to help prevent unauthorized changes and audit log functionality to detail system changes, preventing the downtime and related costs.
Asset management software programs, such as Rockwell Automation FactoryTalk AssetCentre, reduce downtime to boost the bottom-line by providing protection in four key areas: version control, maintenance activities, security and back-up recovery.
Version Control – An asset management software application can automatically save new versions of the same unit of information – like application source code, resources such as blueprints or electronic models, and other information that may be worked on by a team – into a source-control repository. After changes are made, the newest version is automatically archived, using incremental versioning for clarity. The program also saves changes, archiving as many versions as storage space allows. This provides users a faster and easier way to find current or older versions.
Audit Trail – Audit trail software records all user actions that can affect a system’s operation. This should include standard control and safety-related control. Each user action is stored as an audit-log entry based on user, time, device, computer and action performed. This provides the ability to know who performed an action at what time on a specific system and includes what was modified (previous and current settings).
An audit trail also provides significant benefit to safety-related applications. It supplies automatic documentation related to safety-system operation, such as who touched the system, when and what actions were performed. Because users have a detailed log, an audit trail provides safety users an additional layer of confidence by making it easier to isolate and rectify issues.
Security – Eliminating unauthorized system access is another key component of asset management as it relates to intellectual property. Asset management software controls and records authorized user actions and time. In addition, permissions can be granted for specific changes before they are made. Security granularity allows users to define group or individual permissions and what actions are allowed. Like an audit trail, standard automation and safety-related functions should be handled in a common environment to be comprehensive and easier to use. This allows users to define specific tasks for individuals or groups. For example, a maintenance technician may be allowed to view and edit standard control, where only certain engineers may be allowed access to safety-related functions in the controller. Providing these capabilities in a common environment makes the job easier, without need for specific laptops or certain applications. The system grants privileges based on computer, user login, and each automation system.
Backup and Recovery – Coupled with version control, backup and recovery is an essential means to protect intellectual property and recover from unforeseen events. Asset management software should provide automatic "backup" or "backup and compare" features to automatically save automation-system configurations. Users can define a master for each automation system, which provides quick recovery if needed, without searching for the latest file or checking a range of computers.
– Tad Palus is product manager for asset management software , and Kevin Colloton is product manager, safety controller business, Rockwell Automation
Read more about Rockwell Automation asset management solutions .
-Edited by Mark T. Hoske, editor in chief, Control Engineering , www.controleng.com