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Telematics & the Process Industry: Controlling your Plant Using a Smartphone

The Future of Control & Maintenance Operations

The future of the control and maintenance of operations within the Process Industry could be headed towards Smartphones, remote access and ITC technology. This article will discuss this strategy for process control and plant management.

Controlling plant with smartphone

Brembo Use Smartphones for Controlling Production Line

Within the next two to three years, Brembo SpA maintenance manager Vladimiro Carminati expects to be able to monitor, control production, and activate maintenance operations at the automotive brake major’s plants, via mobile phone.

The concept is part of Project e-Maintenance which features the use of a CARL Source CMMS engineering tool, from CARL Software of Lyon, France. The project e-Maintenance is 60% preventative, with emphasis on predictive techniques using infrared thermography, oils analysis and vibrational analysis. The vision of this integrated Telematics within the process industry is that the Brembo maintenance team will be able to remotely activate these maintenance operations, and control the production at all Brembo sites with a simple click on a smartphone screen.

Advantages of Using a Smartphone for Plant Management

So what do we think about this at Process Industry Forum?

What are the advantages of this strategy for process control, process maintenance and plant management.

I recall a few months ago, there was a disaster at the National Aquarium in Plymouth when 200 fish died after a power cut caused a tank to drain. Surely here an alert system to a mobile phone via sms or email could have prevented this disaster. As the control system failed and the valve remained closed in its NC position, the tank drained of water. Sensors would have detected lack of moisture in the tack, but there was no feedback loop. In this situation Telematics could have been the answer.

Intelligent control of plant

At Brembo, project e-maintenance has to date facilitated greater maintenance reporting and analysis of failures by machine, based on lean manufacturing parameters TRS (synthetic efficiency ratio) and MTBF (mean time between failures). More accurate estimates of equipment availability for each day of the week have enabled Brembo to better schedule preventive maintenance activities. The software has also been customised to automatically process and track corrective work requests.

The benefits of integrating telecommunications within  production and maintenance procedures:

  • Timely reporting of failures (this would have been useful at the National aquarium)
  • Accurate estimates of equipment availability
  • Efficient scheduling of preventative maintenance activities
  • Automatically process and track work requests
  • Fast response to downtime, therefore longer periods of productive activities

What are your thoughts on telematics as a strategy for process control and plant maintenance? Will it increase efficiencies? Will it prevent failures, and even disasters? Is it the future?

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