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Engineering News: Integrating Wireless Technology and Plant Management Systems Can Boost Efficiencies

By: Schalk Burger
Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu

Integrating wireless technology with industrial plant management systems that keep track of maintenance history and modifications enables plants to be maintained more effectively and, hence, operate efficiently over an extended plant life cycle, says industrial database software engineering consultancy Carab Tekniva marketing and sales representative Billa Pansegrouw.

Carab Tekniva’s in-house-developed wireless technology links the test and inspection equipment and a tough book tablet device to record measurements electronically during inspections.

"Our wireless U-Fi technology means that measurements no longer have to be captured manually, reducing errors and enabling each individual component and discrete system of a plant to be managed and maintained effectively," says Carab Tekniva software developer Morné Ausmeier.

The company developed and built its own software foundation for use in intensive indus- trial applications, based on its experts’ extensive experience in tough South African industrial plant conditions that often involve old plants and components.

The Carab Plant Care system is specifically designed to prepare the scope of work required for a plant to manage maintenance, modifications and repairs effectively and enables plant managers to plan and budget for future work.

Incorporating the wireless technology, the Carab Plant Care system is populated with historical and current plant data to provide plant managers and system engineers with an accurate view of plant condition and enables proper maintenance planning and repair execution.

“Our system can track and store data of any work performed. We have been focused on the power generation sector, but we are currently implementing our system in the mining, pulp and paper and petrochemicals sectors to improve real-time oversight of systems and the tracking of work schedules,” says Pansegrouw.

Automatic alerts are generated in Carab Plant Care from data uploaded during inspec- tions if the parameters of components are outside minimum or maximum specifications, he adds.

Further, Carab Tekniva has a team of experienced mechanical engineers and software engineers that analyses a plant’s design and technical drawings as well as performs detailed on-site analysis of a plant, its components and systems, says Ausmeier.

The team then uses the plant’s information to build a custom-designed Carab Plant Care toolset based on the specific design and requirements of that plant, he says.

“Our technology is hierarchical and plants can add hierarchies to tasks to enable risk and asset management. Owing to our wireless inspection system, Carab T, and the Plant Care System, plant engineers have more insight into the precise work that has been done or still needs to be done,” he highlights.

The Carab T module is also a management and real-time progress-tracking tool. It can be fully customised to the client’s requirements to include all the steps required to complete a work package. Different operators are assigned to specific steps, which only allow them access to the work they need to do, thus adding another level of control.

“One of our large customers is a power utility that is using our system to manage the maintenance, repairs and modifications of all its coal-fired boilers to aid in effective maintenance and consistent power generation,” says Pansegrouw.

The company is a broad-based black economic-empowerment contributor and focuses on physical asset management by tracking asset life cycles in any production-driven process in industry. It also has a design and drawing office specialising in pressure part and piping design, he adds.

As the Plant Care System uploads all information to a central plant database, it reduces the effects of staff turnover, as all maintenance history, strategies and plans are stored by the system, thereby helping new engineering staff to hit the ground running, concludes Pansegrouw.

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