Keywords: Asset Management, EAM, HART, MOL Group, Reliability-centered Maintenance (RCM).
MOL Group is an integrated oil and gas corporation concentrated in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). While not a super-major by size (2012 top line revenues were $24 billion), the company is very concentrated in CEE, making MOL the second largest company in the region.
Gábor Bereznai, Head of Process Instrumentation for refining operations at MOL, spoke at ARC Advisory Group's 2013 World Industry Forum about the company's reliability-driven asset management program. ARC sat down with Bereznai to gain a better understanding of this program and the reasons for its success.
MOL Initiative for Automation Asset Management
MOL's asset management initiatives fit within the context of nineteen corporate strategic initiatives that span the entire enterprise value chain (see figure on next page). Seven initiatives pertain to asset management and one focuses specifically on maintenance management. These are mainly long-term initiatives. Bereznai said the company began the maintenance program for automation in 2002 and it's still expanding. In 2010, MOL's largest Danube refinery was named the HART Plant of the Year for creativity in applying HART communication technology. ARC asked MOL about this program and what was exceptional about its use of HART technology.
MOL's very large Danube refining complex in Százhalombatta, Hungary, has 58 processing units and roughly 30,000 field devices. The question MOL automation engineers faced was how to develop a reliability-centered maintenance (RCM) program that would start with the most critical of these 30,000 assets, yet could expand as needed. Another challenge was that the incumbent enterprise asset management (EAM) application could not effectively support an RCM approach for this class or number of devices.
Asset Management Plays an Important Role in MOL's Operating Strategy
(Source: MOL Group)
MOL wanted to continue using its existing EAM (or CMMS) application to manage maintenance operations. But MOL needed to integrate its EAM with vendor-supplied automation asset management systems (AMS). These applications could manage the streams of device diagnostics and supplement them with risk management analysis. The AMS applications were used to generate notifications and prioritize the maintenance work orders generated by the CMMS. While MOL initially used some HART multiplexers, the refinery soon standardized on the HART Protocol for all its new devices and DCSs since HART was well supported by all the DCS suppliers to the refinery and could be adopted with minimal disruption to existing systems and practices.
While HART technology provided a base-level standard, Bereznai said the largest value driver was using HART with asset management software applications so that diagnostics could be captured and analyzed. While the initial acceptance of this software by maintenance staffs was problematic, eventually they began to see the potential value and today they rely on it. MOL believes it is critical to gain active support for using this type of software to change behaviors and operations and drive an organization toward a reliability-centered outlook.
Valve Diagnostics Prove Invaluable
At the Danube refinery, the early savings came from valve diagnostics, and success with these helped convert skeptics into practitioners. The biggest breakthrough came when technicians diagnosed a problem with a faulty head pressure control valve as being caused by a damaged positioner, rather than damage to the valve itself. The positioner could be quickly replaced while the unit remained in production, saving about $900,000 of production compared to the shutdown that would be required to repair the entire valve. Word of incidents such as this gets around a refinery, creating greater acceptance for putting intelligent device diagnostics to use.
Another valuable change has been the ability to identify "bad actors" among the refinery's complement of control valves before a unit turnaround. This enabled a substantial reduction in maintenance costs associated with control valves (~75 percent), and enables technicians to focus on these bad actors, making turnaround activities far more productive.
While valves were the catalyst for early use of HART diagnostics, MOL has since expanded its AMS program to include the most critical 4,000 of its roughly 30,000 installed HART devices, and plans to expand further.
Alarms for Maintainers
The refinery's alarm management system now uses HART diagnostic data as input to its alarm management functions. Alarms are grouped according to severity and sorted into two groups – those associated with defects, and those serving to prevent defects. These two classes of notifications are presented to different groups within the refinery. Bereznai accurately calls the latter class "alarms for maintainers."
MOL is not alone in recognizing the potential value of classifying these events and displaying them to different groups of plant personnel. For example, Shell's "Bridge" program for offshore asset management includes a strict distinction between "alarms" and "alerts." Alarms indicate only those conditions that demand operator action, while alerts require further analysis by process engineers or support personnel and may be escalated into further testing or maintenance work. The trend toward remote operations management (ROM) in upstream oil & gas operations is driven by the need to provide this type of effective support to offshore operations. MOL's operations are very landlocked and accessible, but the company's use of HART diagnostics in alarm management shows that the value in segmenting alarm information is fundamental in both offshore and onshore operations, though offshore operation makes the support tasks more challenging.
The Danube refinery expects to eventually include 8,000 HART devices in its asset management system applications, representing the most critical 20 percent of its field devices. The program is also being rolled out in other MOL refineries and plants. The expansion at Danube refinery will be done as part of various upgrade projects and will include WirelessHART adapters and networks for some installed assets. The major personnel initiative going forward is to broaden and deepen training in the use of diagnostic information so that MOL maintenance technicians are comfortable using HART information on all levels — from handheld configurators to AMS to EAM.
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