A recent study performed jointly by Invensys and Fieldbus, provides strong evidence that process industry automation users are frustrated with the low success levels provided by current plant production management strategies.
For example, according to those interviewed, while field device-centric asset management strategies can provide a helpful point solution, these ignore the vast majority of installed plant equipment. Equipment-centric asset management strategies, on the other hand, are often not well integrated with either intelligent field devices or the plant automation systems. Careful analysis of the many interviews conducted indicate that today's users - regardless of automation vendor - are simply not getting the high-quality, in-context information needed to improve performance, make informed business decisions, and effectively manage risks.
"Our big concern is that we get too much data, but we don't know what to do with it, and we sure don't have the time to go through it all,"commented one of the users surveyed.
"Today's process manufacturer's have been put in the position where they have had to significantly reduce their internal resources to maintain profitability," said Mike Caliel, president of Invensys Process Systems. "This situation is exacerbated by the steady loss of their most experienced personnel through retirement. The net result is that, in today's tough regulatory environment, plant managers are very much concerned with their personal accountability in the event that something preventable goes wrong. This puts additional pressure on automation vendors to be able to provide the products and services that our customers require to maximise their assets in an efficient, safe, and environmentally responsible manner."
The Invensys-sponsored study, conducted from June through August 2003, involved direct, face-to-face interviews with almost 70 plant managers, engineers, maintenance supervisors, and instrument technicians at 21 world-class process manufacturing organisations in North America and Europe. Specific industries represented included chemicals, oil and gas, power generation, pharmaceuticals, and food and beverage. The interviews were conducted independently by Invensys and Fieldbus personnel.
"When you consider the complexity and scale of modern process manufacturing facilities, which can include massive process units outfitted with a variety of rotating and stationary equipment, plus large numbers of pumps, valves, motors, and field devices - both intelligent and non-intelligent - it's amazing that today's 'downsized' plants operate as well as they do," commented Sasan Goodarzi, who is responsible for marketing, R&D and manufacturing for the products organisation of Invensys Process Systems. "Certainly, modern intelligent field devices, fieldbus-based automation systems, safety systems, condition monitoring systems, enterprise asset management systems, and modelling and optimisation software, represent important elements in an overall production management strategy. However, the key is to be able to combine these technologies - plus new services - into a cohesive solution that provides users with the information they need, when they need it, and in the appropriate context."
As the next step toward refining the requirements for the next-generation of plant production management solutions, Invensys is sponsoring a Strategic Advisory Board meeting in Houston, Texas during the ISA 2003 Conference, October 21-24, 2003. The board will include representatives from a number of world-class process manufacturing organisations, including several survey participants, and will feature active participation by industry analysts from the ARC Advisory Group and other third parties. The agenda will include review and validation of the new and innovative offerings that Invensys is planning to announce in the near future.
For information about participating on the Strategic Advisory Board, contact Neil Cooper.
Invensys is a global leader in production technology. The group helps customers improve productivity, performance and profitability using innovative services and technologies and a deep understanding of their industries and applications.