Why is an engineering document management system important?

The global process industry loses $20 billion annually because of unplanned downtime, according to ARC's "Asset Reliability Software & Services Global Market Research Study". Plant stoppages due to shutdowns or turnarounds can be extremely challenging for an organization. As with any shutdown, the primary goal is to efficiently resolve the issue as soon as possible without compromising safety or the environment. When a facility faces an imminent shutdown, the pressure to get back into production can lead to poor decisions or worse, a tragedy.

Critical errors can include:

  • The engineering department deciding to skip some critical planned repairs in order to reopen faster.
  • Operators controlling the startup unaware of the exact status of equipment they are operating.
  • Operators using a poor common practice for the startups, such as relying on the assumption that all equipment is fully functional without testing it.
  • Skipping a handover between operator shifts during the startup.

Manual processes are part of the problem.

It is critical for owner-operators to identify, manage, and reduce risk in the planning phase of the plant stoppage. Typically, prior to adding a change order to a plant stoppage, most owner-operators perform a Management of Change (MoC). Conducted in a separate software system or manually, MoC helps ensure that changes to a process do not introduce new hazards or increase the risks of existing hazards. As a result, the MoC process is not connected directly to the content of the engineering project. In addition, opportunities to check the MoC process adequately with engineering are overlooked. When an owner-operator uses a manual process to meet MoC guidelines, they must be vigilant in keeping both engineering and the MoC in sync. It is a huge manual effort for an owner-operator to document the history of changing a piece of equipment and consequently, the manual process becomes error-prone.

An engineering document management system can connect engineering information throughout the asset lifecycle.

A direct connection between the MoC element, the engineering project, and the planning of the plant stoppage improves the identification of risks involved in the change. By making these risks more visible, proper lifecycle management and reduction of these risks can be achieved.

Handover from engineering to operations and maintenance (O & M) is another important area where connecting to the asset lifecycle helps risk management. Often, handover of information from engineering to O & M is limited to technical documents and in rare cases, asset information. However, during an engineering project, more information is created that is of interest to O & M that isn't included in the technical documents handed over in the process, such as:

  • What repairs were performed on the assets/at the plant?
  • Are there any known issues or limitations on the performance of the equipment?
  • Are there any additional work orders (e.g., inspections) to be scheduled?
  • Any recommendations for operating and maintaining the equipment?

It is important that this type of information is fed into internal systems so that all O & M managers are made aware of all relevant aspects of the equipment returned to O & M. Key stakeholders should be notified automatically of anything that is abnormal that might negatively affect their work. Notifications of abnormalities help to avoid the information disappearing into a spam folder.

Meridian is an engineering document management system that provides a single source of truth.

By using an engineering document management system to provide critical information to all key stakeholders, the probability that important information does not reach the right people is reduced significantly. Many owner-operators discuss the importance of having a "single source of truth" for their asset-related technical information. Implementing a document management system will allow you to adhere to the compliance regulations and minimize plant stoppages.

Having a single platform, like Meridian, where O & M can find answers to all the questions they have, it is less likely that important facts will fall through the cracks. A bigger benefit of Meridian is that it can push the information proactively to the user, such as displaying warnings about equipment status when the operator is reviewing a startup procedure.

With an document management platform providing informative connections:

  • Operator awareness of defective sensors can avoid risky common startup procedure.
  • An alert that assumptions have not been met during the startup procedure allows owner-operators to pause a startup procedure that is invalid.
  • Actual equipment status displays in a single source of truth system can fill the gaps of a skipped handover between operator shifts.

Accruent's Engineering Drawing Management Solution helps make a connected asset lifecycle a reality. Unlike departmental point solutions that are restricted in scope, Accruent's Meridian platform provides a comprehensive solution for managing concurrent plant modifications of all scales and maintaining as-built master engineering drawing data for operations and maintenance departments. We're dedicated to helping your organization stay in control, compliant, aligned, and informed to avoid plant stoppages before they occur.

Do you want to learn more about Handover Document Management? Read our latest blog post Handover Management. How about learning how Accruent's Engineering Document Management System can help minimize plant stoppages without compromising safety? Contact us or request a demo today!