Banking on Asset Management

(Sidebar to "Getting the Most From Plant Assets" from January 2007 issue of Automation World)


Sometimes, asset management systems give a company its first return on investment in a fieldbus implementation.  

The Saudi Arabian Oil Co., in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, uses wireless fieldbus technology to install and configure devices in its gas plants, oil refineries, even wellheads.

When the technology was installed, engineers expected to take a savings on the implementation of the network, but the savings didn’t arrive. “We thought we’d get back the costs with the ease of calibration and maintenance, but the savings didn’t work out,” says Ralph Hartman, engineering specialist in the Instrumentation and Processing Controls Department at Saudi Aramco. 

So the company decided to use an asset manager to gain payback on the fieldbus network. “We think we’ll realize the savings by not having to send people to the field to troubleshoot the instrument problems.” Hartman believes the company can reduce its trips to the field by 80 percent.

Hartman also wants to use the asset management system to allow for mixed instruments on the plant network. “One of the problems we’ve had is the difficulty using a controller that is not married to the host system,” says Hartman. “We want to be able to pick the best-in-class instruments and have the host system read them equally. We’re hoping that EDDL (enhanced device description language) will allow us to pick best-in-class valve positioners even if they are not married to the host system.”

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