When we can identify exactly which valves are in use where – Which mill, which process, which valve configuration – we can utilize this information as a basis for smart, well-planned service and maintenance. Gathering, unifying and enriching all of the relevant data will create a solid base for all efficient service operations that will help ensure process reliability, minimizing the risk of expensive unplanned shutdowns.
The starting point is typically creating unified installed base data that reflects the reality at any given mill. Each valve assembly is typically assigned a tag in the database. Any small variation in the naming will always result in the creation of a new tag. This could be as simple as a full stop or dash in a different place or a difference in naming policy regarding things such as metric or imperial valve sizing. Working together with the customer and joining all of the compiled data through a digital audit will get you well on your way.
Just as an example, by carrying this process out at one customer mill, we were able to unify two databases, which originally added up to about 6.5 thousand tags, into one dataset of less than 4.5 thousand tagged valve assemblies. This was achieved by eliminating duplicates and identifying tags that were no-longer in use or existed twice due to differing naming. Only the final 100 valves required a physical field inspection, while everything else was carried out in the form of a digital audit. This accurate and unified list is now actively maintained as a part of the lifecycle service agreement and forms the basis for the planning of proactive maintenance at the mill.
The valve data we collect often proves to be more detailed and accurate than that of the customer. In our database each valve assembly is documented in a way where we can individually identify each component; valve, actuator, positioner and limit switch behind each tag. This allows us to ensure the availability of relevant spare parts or replacements, giving special consideration and priority based on lifecycle status or criticality in terms of process or application. It also means that we can have full or partial valve assemblies pre-assembled in stock on-site.
In addition to ensuring the short-term availability of parts based on the real-time mill asset data, in most cases we have gathered a wealth of historic valve asset data that helps create a detailed long-term maintenance plan based on valve age and lifecycle status. In established customer relationships we often have data reaching back up to 25 years or more. Statistical analysis and risk assessment allow for service planning that takes scheduled service shutdowns and overall cost efficiency into account.
This wealth of data, tools and processes utilized to their full potential shows how a fruitful partnership is formed. Accurate information is a great platform to build proactive and collaborative conversations on. By working together with our customers towards a shared goal that is clear and well-defined, we can secure the reliable long- and short-term performance of any mill process.