Asset Performance Focuses Invensys Process Systems User Conference

By Control Engineering Staff October 5, 2005

Houston, TX—Claiming 850 registrants—the largest user conference in the company’s history, according to Ginny Burnell, North America president—Invensys Process Systems hosted its annual user conference here Oct. 2-6. Sessions at the conference centered on the company’s divisions and its related product offerings—Avantis for maintenance, Foxboro I/A for process control, Foxboro instrumentation for plant floor devices (management and communication), Simsci-Esscor for process simulation, and Triconex for safety.

Throughout all the sessions, the overriding focus at the conference centered on asset performance management.

“The top concerns for manufacturing executives today are operational safety, aging plants, getting the most out of human resources, regulatory compliance, security, unprecedented competitive pressures, and environmental impacts. Each of these issues has an impact on return of capital employed,” said Mike Caliel, president of Invensys Process Systems.

According to Caliel, the solution for industry is to move from reactive to proactive operations, maximize reliability and availability, manage risk and complexity appropriately, and continually reduce costs. These requirements, said Caliel, is why Invensys Process Systems’ focus moving forward will be on asset performance management.

“Asset management initially focused on device equipment and how that drives availability and utilization,” he said. “We’re now looking at assets in terms of operational control groups. It’s a more holistic approach—how those assets impact overall economic performance of the plant in terms of capital investment return.”

Caliel said he views Invensys’ new approach to asset management as an extended control loop—where the plant floor’s connection to the front office revolves around optimization of asset performance.

Greater interaction of engineers in the financial processes of their companies is an inherent side-effect of asset performance management—as evidenced by the number of times this issue was brought up in presentations by both Invensys personnel and end users. In these presentations, engineers are critical to what is being referred to as “real-time financial management”—meaning that the finance departments at manufacturing companies can no longer effectively assess operations by getting production data on weekly or monthly basis. Of course, “real-time financial management” does not imply that financial officers are looking for plant floor data at the millisecond level or even minute-by-minute level. But once per day or even multiple times per day is no longer uncommon at companies that focus on asset performance management, according to Lanny Carr, Invensys global strategy and marketing for petroleum refining, petrochemicals, and chemicals.

Victor Dix-Cooper, TransCanada Pipeline, illustrated in his presentation how his company is focusing on interdepartmental inefficiencies and increasing management effectiveness by making management more aware of what’s happening at the production level multiple times per day. As part of this process, TransCanada Pipeline uses Avantis to manage more than 250,000 asset entities, 52,000 predictive maintenance tasks, and more than 1,100 active users.

Also highlighted at the conference was Invensys’ increasing application of wireless technologies. Hesh Kagan, Invensys’ director of new ventures technology marketing, and Ian McPherson, executive vice president of marketing for Apprion, explained the strategic partnership formed this year between the two companies to develop a wireless infrastructure for industrial environments to integrate a range of wireless technologies in a secure manner.

Apprion offers the Intelligent Operations Network (ION)—a multi-function, multi-frequency wireless information platform that dynamically aligns best-of-breed, real-time data technologies such as RFID, sensors, and instrumentation with secure, closed-loop communications. Apprion’s goal with ION is to provide a system that will tie various wireless devices in a manufacturing facility together, regardless of vendor origin or wireless communication standard employed. The company is continually developing drivers to address the wide variety of installed and available wireless communication devices, said McPherson.

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David Greenfield, editorial director, Control Engineering