Involve Everyone, Reduce Headaches

May 14, 2009
Bayer Healthcare’s David Kavanaugh Explains the Importance of Coordinating Asset Optimization

A new asset management system might alleviate some production headaches, but the real prescription for project success hinges on the involvement of all stakeholders in the implementation process, said David Kavanaugh, principal PCS engineer at Bayer Healthcare’s global headquarters in Berkeley, Calif. He spoke in March of asset-optimization lessons learned by his company at the ABB Automation and Power World 2009 in Orlando, Fla. “Once implemented, reevaluate the abilities of the new system,” he explained. “And use your end users a lot on this. Planning and scope are critical, but be flexible. We thought we knew what we needed, but we didn’t. The maintenance guys who are using it came up with a lot of changes.”

Partnering with IT support is important too, because its network is critical to success. “Our IT department now thinks we have the best equipment,” said Kavanaugh. “You also need to partner with your manufacturing and maintenance departments at the beginning. Gaining their support is critical.”

While ABB’s System 800xA offers more functionality than a traditional distributed control system, it is more complex, said Kavanaugh. “But with complexity comes flexibility and opportunity. Embrace opportunities to get all parties involved with a project. With today’s capital restrictions, if you don’t have all parties involved, you’re not going to get the cooperation.”

Bayer’s past asset-monitoring programs were homegrown, said Kavanaugh. “We used a Microsoft Access PC-based paging system,” he explained. “We provided some advance warnings, but they’re unreliable and they’re homegrown and unsupported. We’ve also used standard operating procedures for asset monitoring, but they’re very structured. The problem with standard operating procedures is the work may not be needed.”

Four buildings at the Bayer facility still run MOD systems, an older-generation ABB control system, as well as an older PBB-based pager system for alerts. “We put in the 800xA asset optimization running in parallel with MOD,” explained Kavanaugh.

At Bayer, the asset monitoring took a lot of collaboration with the maintenance department, said Kavanaugh. “We’re still working on this one,” he admitted. “Bayer is no different than other companies—we’re siloed. To get maintenance to buy into asset management, which is an engineering function, it’s challenging. We’re mainly using it for pre-alarms right now. Operations has been more receptive to forming a partnership than maintenance has.”
The remote services are a growing convenience for Bayer, too. “We’re definitely taking advantage of them,” said Kavanaugh. “The latest asset-optimization implementation was done completely remotely by the group. Part of the Bayer implementation included remote access, so security had to be assured, too.”

The implementation has been relatively limited so far, said Kavanaugh. “We have done a heat exchanger, an early-warning paging system and IT asset monitoring,” he explained. “We had a heat exchanger with a belt-driven fan that would suddenly fail every six to 12 days. Previously, they’d just go out and replace the fan belt every seven days. We found out the motor amps would increase right before a failure would occur. By putting the asset monitor—a permanent load monitor— in there, we could monitor the amps. Once it reached the threshold, it would generate a page that would go to the maintenance people, who would schedule a belt replacement.”

Thus far, it appears that operational reliability has improved dramatically. “We’ve lowered maintenance costs for the paging system,” said Kavanaugh. “We’ve improved the ability to respond to our process problems. And we have the ability to monitor our IT assets. This is becoming very important because I have 110 servers. Remote access has been key for us. The process engineers love this.”