When large plants such as refineries are shut down for maintenance or in-service inspection, there are oftentimes several thousand external service technicians doing their work at the same time. Every process optimization helps to reduce the length and cost of the downtime. With mobile apps, cloud solutions and sophisticated system integration, the operator of a large process plant was able to digitize their communication and coordination processes with service partners in individual sub-areas. This allowed processes to run more efficiently, saving the operator time and money.
During the shutdown, vital project data was digitally exchanged between the shutdown planning team and external service providers. The technicians received project information and assembly orders on their smartphones or tablets and used their mobile devices to notify the shutdown planning team when tasks were completed. The data transfer was coordinated by means of “data hubs.” They collected relevant information from a software program or mobile app and then transmitted that information to other linked applications. This set-up ensured that the mobile devices had no direct link to the plant operator’s computing center, which is best to avoid for security reasons.
The data hub, operating under the Microsoft Azure Cloud, was assisted by the cc|vendor & contractor portal. This vendor and contractor portal provided service technicians with the COSMO CONSULT ccIbusiness apps for smartphones and tablets, which could be used, for example, to
All feedback messages passed through the data hub and directly into the planning software, where they automatically adjusted the current project status. Using the app for unscheduled additional actions, service technicians initiated approval processes, through which Project Management was notified of unforeseen tasks. These tasks could then be approved and added to the schedule with just a few clicks.
The shutdown was also an opportunity to use the latest technology developed by COSMO CONSULT in collaboration with customers – “electronic wallpaper.” All the steps of the individual shutdown processes were compiled and presented as a clearly organized overview on large touch screens. This included work on components which could be approved using the ccImobile confirmation app and to which service technicians could reply from their mobile devices. So the electronic wallpaper provided a transparent overview – not just for equipment but for all operating points – which was directly accessible to everyone involved. The tool was met with positive responses from the staff of the plant operator and their associate companies.
During the medium-scale shutdown, over 100 users in approximately a dozen different subprojects were working with COSMO CONSULT mobile apps. The apps were used to log and monitor over 20,000 activities. Thanks to mobile data exchange, key information was made available more quickly. As a result, subsequent work packages could be started sooner, while wait times and manual duplicate entries were avoided. “On large construction sites, up to 40 percent of the working hours are unproductive, because there are necessary but bureaucratic procedures that service providers have to go through. Employees also spend a lot of time searching for trades, parts or machines and waiting for permits. This can be avoided using digital technologies such as the data hub and our mobile apps,” says Udo Ramin, Managing Director of COSMO CONSULT TIC GmbH. Until now, we’ve had to put together time-consuming project plans in the form of wallpapers. This time, Shutdown Management and Project Management were able to work digitally in the areas where mobile apps were used. In an internal acceptance vote, the cc|mobile confirmation app received 4 out of 5 stars.